Dal Lake is the second largest lake in Kashmir. It is also a World Heritage Site and an internationally popular tourist destination. It has been given a name – ‘The Lake of Flowers’ which is a gemstone in the crown of the magnificent Valley in itself.
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Time for Geography
This lake is present at an altitude of about 1600 meters above sea level and is a symbol of Kashmir’s tourism industry. The glittering calm of the Dal Lake is surrounded by the Pir Panjal ranges on three sides. This lake is a surrounded area, in which water comes and goes regularly from those different rivers and water streams that flow through the forests around Srinagar. These are a combination of 5 basins like Gagribal, Bod-Dhal, Hazrat-Bal, Nagini, and Barari-Nambal; which are spread over an area of 18 square kilometers.
Mélange of Charm, Inspiration, and Economy
This lake and its great beauty have been inspiring the poets, travelers, and artists for centuries. Srinagar city is situated around this lake and this lake is a vibrant environment system which raises directly or indirectly 20 million natives and millions of tourists who come here every year. Dal Lake is not only an important source of water but also a very important source for the Shikara boats and houseboat owners to generate revenue for the state through tourism. Local communities like gardeners and farmers mostly depend on this lake for their livelihood. It is estimated that out of the total revenue received by the state, the contribution of Dal Lake is about 16 percent and about 40 percent of the state’s people are busy in various activities related to this lake.
The Aqua Flora and Fauna of Dal Lake
Many species of fishes are also present in Dal Lake and this means that it also maintains the livelihood of thousands of people through fisheries. Fisheries are the second largest industry in the region. Even the farming of Lotus and other vegetables is pretty famous.
One can also see the huge gardens floating in front of the lake which looks very attractive. These huge floating gardens are called ‘Raad’ in Kashmiri language and they are made of a combination of vegetation and sediment. They are cut from the bottom of the lake and brought up to the surface for good scale farming. Though the floating garden is above the water, they are automatically irrigated continuously. So, the crop yield is also good. Hundreds of farmers can be seen looking after their gardens. These floating gardens even fulfill the 50 to 60 percent of the valley’s vegetation requirement. According to the specialists, these floating gardens as natural filters; help to maintain the ecological balance of the lake.
But the use of pesticides by people for better yield can be serious as these pesticides get flowed in the lake which might deteriorate the balance of Lake. Even the Lake water started containing the tropical Azolla Fern suddenly which is unknown for the researchers that how it got flourished in this water. This tropical fern might disturb the balanced ecosystem of the Lake but for sure it’s a boon for those who do Poultry farming and are shepherds by profession as these tropical ‘Azolla’ ferns are one of the best diets for cow, goat, sheep and poultry birds like chicken, duck, etc..
Encroachments in the Beauty
Unfortunately, this important lifeline (Lake) today is surrounded by a serious crisis itself. The number of fishes caught by this lake is continuously decreasing. The lake is polluted and tourism is also adversely affected. The size of this magnificent lake was 75 square kilometers, which has now shrunk dangerously to 12 square kilometers. Its depth was once 45 feet, which is now only 4 to 6 feet in some places. According to the experts, this is due to uncontrolled human activities and encroachment as a large part of this lake has been filtered to grow crops and to build houses. Guesthouses, hotels, and restaurants have been built around this lake, which has further reduced the size of the lake.
Efforts of the Government and Locals
The natives and the government organizations are always making efforts together to let not become the Dal Lake gradually a living example of environmental waste in the fascinating environment of Himalayas.
For this the Jammu and Kashmir government established an organization by name- ‘Lakes and Waterways Development Authority’ in April 1957 to tackle the disturbing elements of the Dal Lake’s ecosystem, to clean the Lake water and to revive the livelihood of Natives. By the organization, Fountains have also been installed in this lake in order to prevent moss and unnecessary fern production and at the same time maximum oxygen can be replenished in the lake water; especially in places where the water is stagnant.
Although water is the most valuable resource for the locals here, sometimes the natives too try to restore the beauty of the Lake and sometimes Dal Lake itself struggles to live naturally fit
Means of Transportation and Accommodation
For access to the Lake by the means of transportation along with the accommodation was already mentioned in the previous blog of the same series.
Perhaps the Possible Ways to Revive the Beauty
Well, for the earlier Blog on Wular Lake; below mentioned ways can also be the most possible methods to be used. Earlier resources and population were equal, but now resources are becoming less due to which the pressure of population on resources are badly increasing. The challenges are many and they are multi-dimensional.
The promotion of fish farming and the creation of hatcheries will increase fisheries and significantly reduce pressure on the lake for its natural resources. And God willingly, this will even create new employment opportunities for the local people there. Studies have shown that if the willow plantation is removed from the nearby lake area and planted somewhere else in the valley, then it will increase the lake’s spread approximately more than a meter and this will also help to revive the fisheries.
The dredger machines can also be used to remove the silt and weeds from the Lake to clean it yearly or half-yearly along with the cleaning of nearby forest areas. This will possibly result in slowing down the flow of silt into the Lake and to revive the lake and restore its resources again. It will also help in the livelihood.
Also, if the lake has to be prolonged, then the human settlements on its surface inside the lake have to be removed soon. For this, a great co-operation is needed from the governmental body and the native residential.
Praised be God, the conditions are getting far better day by day and again both the renowned Lakes are alluring the tourists by its bewitched charm.
So, let’s get ready to be fascinated.