Manasbal Lake is located about 30 km north of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir State. It has predominantly rural surroundings with three villages, Kondabal, Jarokbal and Gratbal overlooking the lake. Manasbal is considered as the ‘supreme gem of all Kashmir lakes’ with lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) nowhere more abundant or beautiful than on the margins of this lake during July and August. It is the deepest lake of Kashmir valley and perhaps the only one that develops stable summer stratification. Manasbal is classified as warm monomictic lake and circulates once in a year for a short time. The other lakes in the region either have weak stratification or are polymictic. Close to the northern shore are the ruins of a fort which was built in 17th century by a Moghul king to cater the needs of caravans that used to travel from Panjab to Srinagar. On the south, overlooking the lake is a hillock-Ahtung which is used for limestone extraction. The eastern part is mainly mountainous and towards the north is an elevated plateau known as ‘Karewa’ consisting of lacustrine, fluviatile and loessic deposits.
The lake has no major inflow channels and the water supply is maintained through spring water inflow and precipitation. An outlet channel connects the lake with the Jhelum River. The outflow of water is regulated artificially.
The local population uses the lake as a source of water, for fishing and for obtaining food and fodder plants. Many people are involved in harvesting and marketing of lotus rootstocks which are extensively eaten in the State. In recent years, tourism has caught up with the Manasbal Lake in a big way and as a consequence there are lots of pressure on the terrestrial ecosystem which is being exploited at many places.
The origin of the lake is still unresolved but there is no denying the fact that Manasbal is very ancient. The local people believe in the legend that the lake is bottomless. Over the years as a result of human pressure the lake has become eutrophic. The water body is virtually choked with submerged weeds particularly during summer which is the high tourist season. The deep water layers become anoxic with considerable accumulation of hydrogen sulphide
PLACES TO LOOK AROUND
In summer the lake, which averages 12 metres deep, is covered with lotus flowers and in winter it is a bird watchers paradise as it is one of the largest natural haunts of aquatic birds in Kashmir. The Baladar Mountain overlooks the lake’s eastern bank while on its northern bank are the ruins of Darogabagh
In summer the lake, which averages 12 metres deep, is covered with lotus flowers and in winter it is a bird watchers paradise as it is one of the largest natural haunts of aquatic birds in Kashmir. The Baladar Mountain overlooks the lake’s eastern bank while on its northern bank are the ruins of Darogabagh.
There is a Mughal (also spelt as Mohgul) garden, built by Nur Jahan, by the lake. It’s called Garoka, meaning bay window, due to its view out over the lake.
A grove of Chinar trees at the nearby village of Safapur is known as Badshah Boni, royal Chinar, and was planted in imitation of the Nasim Bagh in Srinagar . A canal taken from the Sindh River, constructed by a Badshah in the 15th century, irrigates Safapur. Nearby is a cave dug by a mystic, with his grave lying next to a small shrine. Near this is situated a tourist hut.
A CampsiteCamping is possible at another lakeside Chinar grove known as Qoz Bagh. There is also a government rest house by the lake