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Manasbal Lake

Manasbal Lake is located in the Jhelum valley, north of Srinagar city in the State of Jammu and Kashmir in India. The name Manasbal is said to be a derivative of the Lake Manasarovar. Lake is encircled by three villages viz., Jarokbal, Kondabal (also called Kiln place, is situated on the north-eastern side of the lake) and Ganderbal and is stated to be the deepest lake (at 13 m or 43 ft depth) in the Kashmir valley. The large growth of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) at the periphery of the lake (blooms during July and August) adds to the beauty of the clear waters of the lake. The Mughal garden, called the Garoka, (meaning bay window) built by Nur Jahan overlooks the lake.

The lake is a good place for birdwatching as it is one of the largest natural stamping grounds of Aquatic birds in Kashmir and has the sobriquet of “supreme gem of all Kashmir Lakes”. The rootstocks of lotus plant which grows extensively in the lake are harvested and marketed, and also eaten by the local people.

The lake is surrounded by the Baladar mountains on the east, by an elevated plateau known as ‘Karewa’ comprising lacustrine, fluviatile and loessic deposits on the north and bounded by the Ahtung hills in the south, which are used for limestone extraction.

Along the course of the Jhelum River, the Manasbal Lake falls under the third series of high altitude lakes of the Himalayas (designated with respect to their origin, altitudinal situation and nature of biota they contain) as the valley lakes (Dal, Anchar Lake, Manasbal etc.) situated at the altitudinal zone of 1,585–1,600 m (5,200–5,200 ft); the other two types being the high altitude wetlands (altitude 1,585–4,000 m or 5,200–13,000 ft amsl) of the second series of lakes (Nilnag) in the lower fringes of Pir Panjal ranges right in the midst of pine forests, and the glaciated lakes of the first series situated on the inner Himalayas between 3,000–4,000 m (9,800–13,000 ft) amsl (Alipathar, Sheshnag, Kounsarnag, Tar Sar, Mar Sar, Vishansar, Gangbal, Kishna Sar, Kyo Tso, Pangong Tso, etc.) which have probably originated during the third Himalayan glaciation. A fissure is reported to be running from east to west at the centre of the lake.

Important vegetation in the catchment of the lake comprise Orchards (apple, mulberry), some Platanus (Chinar trees) and Salix trees. Safar, a nearby village of Safapur which has a grove of Chinar trees, is known as Badshah Boni, royal Chinar, and was planted in imitation of the Nasim Bagh in Srinagar. Maize, mustard and wheat are generally the main crops grown in the agricultural lands of the catchment. In recent years, land use pattern has changed with more land used for horticulture and also diversion of land for construction purposes.

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