Around the third century BC, farming communities in Baluchistan (in present-day Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran), and Kutch (in present-day India) used rainwater harvesting for irrigation.
In ancient Tamil Nadu (India), rainwater harvesting was done by Chola kings. Rainwater from the Brihadeeswarar temple was collected in Sivaganga tank. During the later Chola period, the Vīrānam tank was built (1011 to 1037 CE) in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu to store water for drinking and irrigation purposes. Vīrānam is a 16-kilometre (9.9 mi) long tank with a storage capacity of 1,465,000,000 cubic feet (41,500,000 m3).
In India, rain water harvesting was first introduced by Andhra Pradesh ex-Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. He made a rule that every house which is going to built in cities of that state must have a percolation pit/rainwater harvesting system. This rule increased the ground water level in good phase. After his term as Chief Minister, the next leaders neglected this system.
In the state of Tamil Nadu, rainwater harvesting was made compulsory for every building to avoid ground water depletion. It proved excellent results within five years, and every other state took it as role model. Since its implementation, Chennai saw a 50 percent rise in water level in five years and the water quality significantly improved.
In Rajasthan, rainwater harvesting has traditionally been practiced by the people of the Thar Desert. There are many ancient water harvesting systems in Rajasthan, which have now been revived
At present, in Pune (in Maharashtra), rainwater harvesting is compulsory for any new society to be registered.