Surangam (tunnel) is a horizontal cave or well excavated in the mountains with super-condensed soil or rocks. The excavation itself is a tedious endeavor undertaken by generally 2 people. One for excavating and the other one to transport the the debris out. No machines are used as until now. The whole project takes many years to complete.
Water from the surangam is quite cool and pure as it is away from direct sun light and other atmospheric elements. If the rains are good then chances are that the surungam can be drawn upon even through the summer months. However, if the monsoons are short then even the surangam fails its purpose.
Such surungams can be found in the regions surrounding the Kerala-Karnataka border. Below video shot from a friends place.
Suranga of Kasaragod
Water seeps out of the tunnel which is collected inside the tunnel with big pockets or outside the tunnel. Both drinking and agricultural needs are met with the water from the tunnel.
Gravity is used to draw the water out from the surangam with the help of pipes. You will always find the surangam mid way or the top of mountain atop of people’s house. Tunnels would have been designed since the region receives high monsoon which easily goes away through rivers. During dry months there would be hardly any water on the surface. There is no standard format for excavating a cave. Length can vary from 3 meters to 200 meters with multiple entry and exits. If it’s too long then there would also be vertical air vents.
Most of the surangam is less than half a meter wide and around 2 meter in height. Water drips from the walls mostly and accumulates when a good water source is tapped, excavation is stopped.
Why is the entrance of surangam very small?
However the entrance is really small; even after you enter through narrow door, it is really difficult to walk smoothly inside. 1) This stops large animals entering inside them. 2) Freedom fighters and other radicals would inhabit them, So the entrance were always small so it would be difficult for people to easily accesses them.
Crabs and bats are the biggest trouble in the surugam. Crabs create lot of holes in the surangam. This can also lead to rodent trouble during drier months. Bat feces is one of the biggest troubles.
- To keep crabs away, use lots of Tulsi cuttings with hard parts, poke it in the holes. They hate tulsi.
- Cover the entrance with a small fishing net once the bats leave the Surangam occasionally you will also spot Malabar civet and other small creatures inside the tunnel. So when you enter one of them. Don’t forget to carry a good stick.
Credits & References
- Image credits – https://norcaloa.com/ARMS/articles-in-press/ARMS-102022