IN FRAMES: How a Water Flour Mill works


Kishtwar:  Water flour mill locally known as Ghrate is a centuries old traditional wheat and maize grinding mechanism of Jammu & Kashmir. They are mostly built in hilly areas where there’s abundant water resource.

Ghrate harness the power of flowing water river, stream, or an irrigational channel. They are made with locally available materials and used by whole village. It is known as a cost-effective way of grinding and de-husking of grains. The owner of Ghrate is known as a Ghrati.

A small village namely Srawan, nearly 15 Km away from Kishtwar is surrounded with pine and deodar, the flowing river adds to its beauty. On this river are some of these age-old mills.

Let’s see how It works.


A water stream from the tributary of the rivers is diverted towards the flour mill. The walls are made durable by adding grass and leaves with the mud, also boulders are kept on its sides.


A wooden filter is kept at the end of the stream connecting to the mill to make a slope for water which connects to the turbine and helps it in churning.


The wooden turbine called charkul locally runs with the force of water and generates energy which helps in rotating the wheel.


The grains are place inside the chimney shaped vessel which has an adjustable cut at the bottom, which is adjusted as per the requirement. The grains then slowly fall on the stone wheel (ghrate) which crushes it.


The wheel Also called chakki which is made by a local who is expert in doing so. It is carved from big stones. It rotates at a very fast pace around a lever. It is connected to the wooden turbine which rotates on water force


The wheat or maize comes out of the mill in a power form and falls on the ground which is later picked up by the ghrati.


Outside view of the flour mill. An extra wheel is kept ready incase the one in use faces any issue.


The water that grinds the grain, flows out of the mill, and is further reused for irrigation or washing purposes or simply flows back to the river. So, these is no waste of this natural resource in this process.

“Although there are technological innovations in these mills. Now they run on electricity, but the traditional water flour mill is not losing its importance as the wheat grinded by these water mills is considered more healthier than the conventional one,” said Abdul Karim, one of the Ghrate owners (Ghrati).

“Usually, it takes around one hour to grind 30 kg of wheat. The profits we take from is around 10 percent from the total grain value. For example, if we have a 50 kg of wheat or maize for grinding, we are going to retain 4 or 5 kg from it,” he said.

(Photo essay by Ashiq Hussain for The Kashmir Monitor)

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