Kashmir—appropriately called Paradise on Earth—is rich in lakes, mountain tarns and swampy lagoons that attract tourists from far and near. Tantalizing terrains that surround these beautiful lakes are flush with chinar and cypress trees and are crowned by snowy peaks of the Himalayan Ranges beyond.
Wular Lake is a large fresh water lake of Asia. It is located in Bandipora district of northernmost state of Jammu & Kashmir. The basin of Kashmir’s largest freshwater lake was created as a result of ancient tectonic activity. Wular Lake is fed by the waters of River Jhelum and varies in size from 30 to 260 sq km (12 to 100 square miles); as per the changing seasons. Wular Lake is also visited by the waters of mountain streams by the name of Madmati, Erin and Bohnar.
Wular Lake is calm and placid across most seasons of the year. However, it is often flooded by melting snow and large volumes of water draining in from Pohru stream. Embankments and small dams are being constructed at strategic places to prevent dangers of any natural calamity. Sharp winds can create turbulence in the Lake and lead to unwarranted accidents and fatal mishaps. Tourists should get an insight on the prevailing weather conditions before visiting the lake.
The deepest portion of Wular Lake is known as Mota Khon or Gulf of Corpses and is avoided by local fishermen and boatmen because of the inherent dangers of drowning. The dead bodies of those drowned in the lake reach this deepest point--giving Mota Khon its name.
According to folklores and legends, Wular Lake was formed in the region occupied by a notorious city. This city was later destroyed in a powerful earthquake and left behind a deep structure which was filled in by rainwater and River Jhelum. It is also believed the famous Kashmiri Sultan, Zain-ul-Abidin had ordered foundation of artificial island named Zaina Lank, which is situated in the middle of Wular Lake. The construction of this island was initiated in 1444 AD.
This beautiful lake, tucked away in the scenic realms of Kashmir, was referred to as Mahapadamsar in the Puranas and other mythological epics. Wular Lake is best known for high waves that lash its shores during late afternoons. The vast expanse and large volumes of fresh water of this lake makes it possible for tourists to enjoy these stormy waves which are unheard of in other placid inland water bodies.
In view of its socio-economic, biological and hydrological values, Wular Lake was designated as Ramsar Site and is one of the most important wetlands of India. It is a hotspot for environmentalists striving to keep it from the effects of pollution and was appointed as a “Wetland of National Importance” under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India- in the year 1986.
Large sections of a catchment area of Wular Lake are under cultivation and this leads to severe threats of pollution connected with animal waste and fertilizers. Weed infestation along with hunting of migratory birds and water fowl which inhabit the lake, are other points of concern.
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