Wednesday 20 March 2013

The lake of Lalbagh

Many lakes in Bangalore have fallen prey to the greed for land. While scores of lakes and tanks such as Dharmambudhi lake, Millers Tank, Sampangiramanagar tank, Shooley tank have been breached due to the short sighted policies of the civic agencies, many others have been encroached upon and some like Kempambudhi and Byresandra are fighting a battle for survival. However, one of the few lakes in Bangalore that faces no threat from encroachment or from the civic agencies is the Lalbagh lake or the lake within the Lalbagh premises that goes by the name of the park.
This is not to say that the Lalbagh lake is free of problems. A few years ago, sewage from Siddapura and surrounding areas were being let into the lake and this had led to the death of fishes apart from choking the water body. A sewage treatment plant was set up and sewage diverted. This has helped the lake survive.
This is the biggest water body in Lalbagh and as per oral history it predated the establishment of the botanical gardens by Hyder Ali in 1760. In fact, it is believed that the lake was one of the reasons for Hyder to set up the park.
Others say that the then Superintendent of Lalbagh, James Cameroon, commissioned the lake in 1890 to provide water to the gardens. Whatever the truth, it stands to reason that the water body can become the lifeline of Lalbagh if the water is properly utilised. However, we can credit Cameroon with development of the lake and its surroundings. It was Cameroon who built the bund, fixed attractive and ornamental steps leading to the tank and also set up a waste weir.
Today, the surroundings have been further beautified and the inner side of the bund plastered with stones and a walking path created around the lake. Flowering trees have been planted along the path. Do you see the two islands in the lake? These islands formed naturally while the lake was being de-silting some years ago.
Today, these two islands, though small, are a haven for birds, some of them migratory, who visit Lalbagh.
The lake is situated close to Lalbagh’s West gate and Siddapura. It is set in nearly 40 acres. Over the last few years, it has become a bird watchers paradise. If you manage to go to the lake early in the morning, you can easily spot birds such as White-breasted Kingfisher, Egret, Commorant, Brahmini Kite and Parakeet.
Besides, ducks, herons and colourful black and white Pelicans crowd the lake.
Its catchment areas is just one sq kms. It has a small walk bridge  at the eastern end or the approach from the Siddapura Gate.
The lake is actually connected to two small ponds on its northern and western corners. One of the pond is known as Lotus Pond and the other is the Sunken Pond. These ponds have become dry in recent years and are silted.
A few years ago, the lake had fully silted and was full of water  hyacinth and other weeds. They were cleared and today they water looks more healthy than it did a few years ago.
There is no boating. Almost all the trees around the lake are hundred or more years old. The water body helps recharge water to ten borewells in the vicinity.
The Lalbagh lake was the first water body in the State where Vetiveria Zizanioides or Khus grass was used extensively to keep the lake clean. The experiment was first taken up by the Department of Horticulture


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