LAKES OF HIMACHAL
MAHARANA PRATAP SAGAR (450M ABOVE SEA LEVEL):
LOCATION: 32 degree North and 76 degree East. In district Kangra. 170 km from Chandigarh. 110km from Amritsar. 55km from the district headquarters at Dharamshala. The closest Railway stations are Mukerian – 30 km and Pathankot – 32 km. The vsettlement of Nagrota Surian and Jawali – which are located in the Sagaras peripheri – are connected by the charming narrow gauge Kangra Railway Line that connects Pathankot to Jogindernagar. The closest airport is Gaggal – 40 km. The lake is well served by a network of roads.
Named in the honour of great patriot Maharana Pratap (1572 – 97 AD), the Maharana Pratap Sagar was once known as Pong Dam Reservoir. India knows the Maharana as a man who struggled valiantly for his kingdom of Mewar – as for principle of independence. In the words of the chroniclers James Tod and William Crooke, ”He spurned every overture that had submission at its basis”. Over the river Beas, the ‘Pong Dam’ was completed in 1976. its reservoir has an area of about 45,000 hectares at maximum possible flooding – the level varies with every season and an averages around 30,000 hectares. Over 200 villages with a population of 85,000 people lie along the wetland.
In 1983, the Sagar was declared a wildlife sanctuary and over 220 species of birds belonging to 54 families have been sighted over the waters and the fringing mud-banks – these include black- headed gulls, plovers, terns, ducks, water-fowl and egrets. The first sighting in the region of the red –necked grebe, was made at the Sagar. The wetland’s location at the head of the Indian plains has made it a suitable habitat and stopover for migratory birds that enter India from Central Asia.
The land portion of the sanctuary has barking deer, sambar, wild boars, nilgai, leopards and claw-
Twenty-seven species and sub-species of fish belonging to six families have been recorded in the Sagar’s waterws. Some of the important commercial varieties are Labeo dero(Gid), Labeo rohita (rohu), Labeo calbasu, Tor putitora (Mahsir), and Mystus seenghaia (Singhara). Since 1976, fishing has been a major economic activity in the area and today, this provides employment to some 15,000 fishermen and the annual catch is valued at over a crore Indian rupees.
There is a branch of Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports at the Sagar and year-round activities include swimming, water-skiing, surfing, kayaking, rowing, canoeing and sailing. The Directorate of Tourism and Civil Aviation provides equipment at the Sagar this includes sail boats, paddle boats, speed aero boats, life buoys, water scooters, speed boats, rafts, life jackets, water skis and wet suits. Various courses – beginner, intermediate and advanced – are also conducted at the Sagar.
The Sagar is close to several places of Hindu pilgrimage – Jawalamukhi, Chamunda Devi, Chintpurni, Brajeshwari (Vajreswari) Devi, Mahakalesar, Bagalamata and Naina Devi. The seat of his Holiness the Dali Lama at Mcleodganj and the Namgyal monasteries at hand are Tashijong and Bir.
The Kangra area is regarded as amongst the best in this part of the world for para gliding. There are many sites of architectural importance, old forts and palaces that are closed to the Shagar. For example, the forts of Kangra, Mangarh and Tira (Sujanpur) and the Monolithic Temple of Masrur.
This area was the cradle of the Kangra school of miniature painting. Near the Sagar is Haripur – Guler which was a major centre of the art. There are rare exhibits at the Kangra Art Gallery at Dharamshala.
The area has several trek routes for which the Sagar can act as the base.
Location – This vast reservoir lies in the district of Bilaspur and Una. The town of Bilaspur is 83 km from the railway station at Anandpur Sahib.
The Gobind Sagar over the river Sutlej, is the result of the huge hydel dam at Bhakra and is named in honour of Guru Gobind Singh the tenth Sikh Guru.
One of the worlds highest gravity dams, the Bhakra rises 225.5m above its lowest foundations. Under the supervision of the famous American dam-builder, Harvey Slocum, work began in 1955 and was completed in 1962. Incidentally, Slocum had no formal training as an engineer, but his conception and designs had been proven successful. To maintain the level of water, the flow of the river Beas was also channeled to the Gobind Sagar by the Beas-Sutlej link which was completed in 1976. Today this dam feeds electricity and water to several states of north India. Its reservoir – The Gobind Sagar – is 90 km long and encompasses an area of approximately 170 sq km.
As far as 1962, the Gobind Sagar was declared a ‘water fowl refuge’ and even today, hosts a variety of water ad shore birds. Fishing is a regular ativity and fifty-one species and sub species have been recorded. The varieties found are – Labeo dero (Gid), Tor putitora (mahsir), Mystus seenghala (singhara) and mirror carp and allied species. Fishing licences may be obtained from the department of Fisheries at bilaspur.
Water sports are available – as are speed-boat and ferry rides. In October and November, when the water level of the reservoir at its peak, a series of regattas are also organised by the department of tourism and civil aviation. Water-Skiing, sailing, kayaking and water-scooter racing become available at this time.
Accommodation: Bilaspur has both hotels and rest houses.
Other attractions – Connected by a rope-way, the shrine of Naina Devi over looks the Gobind Sagar. Bilaspur has a large sports complex. The mirror carp hatchery is also accessible from the lake.
Location – Located in district Chamba, this reservoir of the Chamera dam built over the river Ravi.
The lake offers a variety of water sports.
Location: 19 km from Mandi, on national high way 21 which leads to Kullu and Manali.
Targeted at the generation of hydel power, an earth and rock-fill dam has created this lake from where a tunnel diverts the water of the river Beas and pours it into the river Sutlej and the combined waters feed the Gobind Sagar. Fishing and Boating are available.
LOW ALTITUDES LAKES
Location: Renuka Lake is connected by road and lies in Sirmaur district. It is 123 km from Parwanoo, 60 km from Paonta Shib and 37 km from Nahan.
With a circumference of 3214m Renukaji is the largest natural lake in Himachal. Shaped like the profile of a reclining women, this is regarded as the embodiment of Goddess Renuka. Near the lakes feet is another lake dedicated to her son, Parshurama. Both have temple built around them and the main temple to Goddess Renuka is regarded to have been built over- night in the eighteenth century. The lake rest in a long valley and the surrounding slopes are covered with a variety of vegetation and thick woods. Boats are available for boating in the lake.
Other attraction: Renuka has a mini zoo with spotted deer, lion tailed macaques, nilgai, mithun, barking deer and Himalayan black bear and a lion. Fishing is possible in the river Giri, at near by river Jataun.
Accommodation: The HPTDC run the hotel by the lake namely Renukaji. Dadahu (2 km) has hotels, PWD and Forest Rest Houses.
Sirmaur has another lake at the Saketi Fossil Park, Nahan, the district headquarters has four large tanks – Kalisthan tank, Pukka tank, Kutcha tank and Ranital. There is another large pond at trilokpur.
Mid Altitude Lakes:
Dal Lake (1775m above sea level)
Location: In district Kangra, 11km from Dharamsala. Surrounded by deodar trees, this is on the motor road to talnu.
Held sacred, this has a small Shiva temple on its bank. The banks of the lake are enlivened every September by a fair attended – amongst others – by large number of migrant Gaddi folk.
Accommodation: hotels and rest houses. The HPTOC has hotels in both Dharamshala and Mcleodganj.