The native people of the Himalayan region use an indigenously designed watermill locally called as ‘Gharat’. The ‘Gharat’ is made from the natural resources that are easily available in the area and operates through the water force coming from glaciers, perennial streams and rivulets. Thus, it is an environment friendly source of livelihood for the ‘Gharatis’ (the owner of Gharat). In the present communication, an effort was made to document the status of Gharats in the high-altitude Himalayan regions of Pangi and Tissa of district Chamba. Field surveys were conducted in a total of twenty remote villages of Pangi and Tissa regions (ten in each site). Information was collected on pre-designed semi-structured questionnaires from local people that primarily consisted of Gharatis, elderly informants and the inhabitants living in the vicinity of Gharats. All possible reasons responsible for the increase and reduction in the number of Gharats in the study areas were also documented by interviewing the informants. The study revealed that in the Pangi region number of Gharats have increased and are in good condition whereas there is a drastic decline in the number of Gharats in Tissa. The informants in Pangi gave maximum responses favouring motivational factors while in Tissa maximum responses were obtained for demotivational factors. Based on these responses, we prioritized the corrective measures for improving the efficiency of Gharats and restoration of this age-old indigenous and environment friendly technology. This will surely enhance livelihood security of the inhabitants besides optimum utilization of the natural resources in the Himalayan region.Supplementary Information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10668-021-01455-4.