Due to the vast and varied landscape, the manmade and naturally formed lakes are extremely beautiful, calm and serene, which have been given due importance from ancient time. Valley is endowed with a large number of lakes, and each one of them exudes a loveliness that can only be understood when you go near to them. The crystal clear water of Manasbal Lake has touched my heart and the large growth of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) at the periphery of the lake that blooms during July and August can compel tourists to visit again and again.
The Mughal garden, called the Jaroka built by Nur Jahan that overlooks the lake will give tourists sleepless nights and I promise they will visit again and again. The beauty of the lake is intensified by the largest natural stamping grounds of aquatic birds in Kashmir and has the sobriquet of “supreme gem of all Kashmir Lakes”. The Manasabal Lake 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 is a tourist delight as these types of lakes are witnessed rarely. In the middle of greenery laden hills with cloudy or snow clad patches during winter and glittering sunshine during summer and dotted with the most hospitable people in the adjoining villages is a true representation of valley and this gorgeous water body has the clearest undisturbed waters and a view to die for. While passing through the beautiful orchards of apple, mulberry, and the heritage trees of Chinar and Salix trees, as I reached in the lap of Mansabal with my friend Azad, I was mesmerized, perhaps it was what a good friend like Azad can offer you. Because most of the time the term lake nowadays is often accompanied with pollution. Here it was a different story, it was beautiful, soul touching and rejuvenating, free from visible pollutants and in no time, I praised Almighty for the HIS BOUNTY ON US. Emerged Macrophytes, floating Macrophytes, submerged Macrophytes, Phytoplanktons, Schizothorax niger, S. esocinus, Cyprinus carpio specularis, C. carpio communis and Neomacheilus latius are the other beautiful aspects of the lake, if one can see within environmentalists eye. This place is absolutely a paradise for true love of nature, peace and serenity. This lake itself still remains scenic, tourism can be promoted but I worry for the environment of the lake, because we do not have good experience with Dal and Wullar.
The sustainable tourism can be argued around the Manasbal Lake but the existing landscapes must be maintained and only a minimal alteration, if necessary can be allowed in the catchment areas. The natural setting of the Lake has to be preserved at any cost. The construction of huts as can be seen around the Mansabal should be avoided, whatever, may be the purpose of their construction. Monitoring water quality in the lake must be done regularly to prevent build-up of pollution. The removal/extraction of materials in and around the Lake, such as logging and treasure hunting in the protected area will cause disturbance to vegetation and soil that may cause siltation in the lake and will affect the beauty of lake.
Sustainable tourism goes one step further and makes tourism ecologically sustainable over a long run. It focuses on but not limited to conservation of natural resources and to conserve and cherish the value of local traditions, customs and cultural heritage. Sustainable tourism is not anymore a myth, travelling around Manasbal Lake with a high respect towards the nature is possible with current technology. The Italian evidence of this statement is definitely the fascinating example “Como Lake” – a lake that has recently gained a nickname of “Electric Lake”.
To preserve the beauty and integrity of Manasabal Lake a movement with a mission may be launched by the local community of Manasabal, if anything will be witnessed by them. Currently, an integrated solid waste management program with cradle to grave approach is needed for management of solid material wastes around the Lake to arrest the floating polythene bags on the crystal clear and glittery water apart from other management strategies.
(The author is Assistant Professor in Department of Environmental Science, ITM University Gwalior. He can be reached at: [email protected])