The journey of Indian toilets from Indus Valley to 21st Century

Posted On: 20th April, 2020

Clean toilets are essential for the health and hygiene of every individual. India is still grappling with hygiene-related issues as a third world country. Open defecation and improper disposal of toilet waste is a huge issue right now. However, the toilet system has progressed a lot from the time of the Indus Valley to the current 21st Century.

The unique toilet system of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro

The history of the Indian toilets can be tracked back to the times of the Indus Valley Civilization. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro had an excellent layout of water-borne toilets across the cities. Archaeological excavations revealed that the Lothal residents had excellent hygiene provisions.

Every house was equipped with an individual toilet. Further, each toilet was linked to a common covered drain that lined the roads outside. The civilization perished and these exemplary practices of sanitary engineering faded. They were replaced by the unhygienic activity of open defecation.

The long-standing nuisance of myths and open defecation

Back in time, several Hindu scriptures mandated for men to defecate less to prove their manliness. Saints and fighters were expected to defecate less frequently. That's why they maintained dietary restraint to ensure good digestive system. Such myths lead to unhealthy sanitary practices being adopted by Indians.

During 500-1500 AD, protrusions were the common way of excretion for the people belonging to the higher strata of society. For common people, holes dug in the ground with a wooden seat on top were considered as toilets. During the Mughal Empire, disposing human excreta in fields and covering it with earth was prevalent.

The slow and steady development of Indian toilets

However, with passing time, the toilet system improved in India. Mughal Emperor Jahangir commissioned a public toilet construction for use by 100 families in 1556. It was to be constructed a little distance away from Delhi. However, it could not be properly maintained and open defecation remained a major problem.

Keeping in step with the rest of the world, India saw its first sanitation law coming into effect in 1878. Municipalities were instructed to install toilets in the slums of the-then British capital, Calcutta (now Kolkata). Toilets began to be partitioned with curtains from 1880, a practice previously followed by Mughals.

The current scenario of Indian sanitation

With time, India has progressed remarkably when it comes to basic hygiene and sanitation practices. Apart from household toilets, the concept of using mobile toilets such as the FRP Mobile Toilet in the form of public restrooms has emerged as an important concept. A few benefits of using a mobile toilet are:

  • Good accessibility by masses
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Easy to transport and install

So, in the coming years, India must continue to encourage people to adopt better hygiene habits. People must avail of well-constructed public loos such as the FRP Mobile Toilet. The focus must be on eliminating the practice of open defecation. It is all about working together towards a safer, healthier, and better future for the whole country.