KarezJuly 12, 2006
In the Xinjiang province of China you will find the ‘karez’. Also called ‘Qanat’ in Iran, these are underground tunnels which bring either snow melt or groundwater from up in the high mountains to the desert area of the Taklimakan.The tunnels are carved with a vertical opening every 6 metres or so. Grandfather begins, son completes it and grandson enjoys the fruits goes the saying. These underground tunnels run for kilometres.
When I stepped into one the water was ice cold and my legs were blue below the knees. A group of youngsters peered at me and were happy to pose for pictures in front of a vertical shaft in their village. A little girl with a scar on her face peers into the muddy water I stirred up. The woman who came to collect water was not too happy with my stirring the water up and I was suitably abashed and apologetic knowing not what I had wrought. The karez is being rediscovered in China .The Chinese say that more than 5600 km of running tunnels have been found. They call it a bigger work than the Great wall for after all the Great wall served no purpose whereas the Karez is life itself in Xinjiang. The Karezins, the builders of the Karez are finally getting their due for a technique dating 2000 years. Alexander the great saw Karez on his journey and the Taliban hid in them to escape the American bombs.