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Rice Terraces are used in farming to cultivate hilly or mountainous terrain. They are quite effective for growing crops that require a lot of water, such as rice. They also help to decrease erosion and surface runoff. Oh and they are quite stunning to photograph from above! Terraced fields are used widely across east, south and southeast Asia such as the Taj Mahal in India, the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, the Great Wall of China, and Angkor Wat of Cambodia. But unlike other ancient construction projects, the terraces were evidently built by community effort—not slave labor.
If you visit the terraces, you can personally experience their breathtaking beauty. You will see people working in the terraces which range from a few square feet to 100,000 square feet [10,000 sq m]. Some workers are poking the soil with sticks to get water to seep in, singing as they go. Others are planting rice, transplanting seedlings, or harvesting their crop. If you visit when new rice is coming up, the terraces make a beautiful mosaic of varying hues of green.
Wet varieties of rice cannot survive without large amounts of water. So an intricate irrigation system is in place. Mountain streams are tapped, and water is sluiced to the terraces by a complex system of canals and bamboo tubes. Driven by gravity, a reliable supply of water is distributed from terrace to terrace. Far from being a dead monument, the terraces truly are a living wonder!
Who Built Them?
It goes without saying that these thousands of terraces could not have been built overnight, or even in a few years. Remember, this construction was done without any modern tools or machinery. It is therefore believed that the terrace building began, at the very least, several hundred years ago.
Some archaeologists even believe that the work began as far back as 2,000 years ago. Anthropologists suggest that the builders migrated from northern Indochina or from Indonesia, bringing with them their wet-rice terracing culture. After the terraces were built, newer levels were added gradually.