Manasbal-The Deepest Lake

Lakes crop up in areas lying low to their surroundings with almost hillocks, hills, forests, mountains standing on one of their sides. The water oozing from any small springs interconnecting one another and some amount of rain or snow melted water percolating through the porous layers of the earth joining together make up a lake with a due outlet to maintain its level.  Mansbal lake in the district of Ganderbal is one such wonderful  lake of the three famous lakes of Dal  in Srinagar and Wular  in the district of Bandipora.  This  four kilometer long east-west and one kilometer wide in north- south lake  is at a distance of 32 kilometers from  Srinagar at the tail end of the district Ganderbal   25 kilometers distant to the district of Bandipora sharing its borders at  Safapora in the north-west. Unlike the most attended to and encroached upon Dal lake, Mansbal lake though smallest of three is topping  in  purity of water with  retention of much of its erstwhile physical shape and borders  for having witnessed  comparatively less and little incidents of encroachments till  date. Thinly populated periphery,  removal of all the  eastern dwellings & three-fourth of Gratabal residency, more than half of its circumference free of human hamlets on west and north-western borders being the reasons. The lake is mentioned to be  the deepest fresh water lake in Asia.

It is believed to be fed by 1,200 springs sprouting from within giving it a permanent life line  with rain & snow waters flowing from the  catchment areas adding to its level strength. The lake being calm with no accident rate is easily navigable for swim and boat/shikara rides  round the year. To the south of the lake lies the  crescent shaped Kondabal hillock  (known as Ahtuang) famous for lime stone quarries (Kondas) with appertinent populous  Kondabal village drawing its name and to the north are villages/mohallas  of  Gratabal, Jaroka Bagh – a Mughal Garden built by  Queen Noor Jehan, Bagwan mohalla, Fargard Mohalla followed  by Safapora ticking up for township  with confluence of Bandipora-Safapora-Sumbal-Srinagar and Bandipora-Safapora-Ganderbal-Srinagar roads. Safapora derives its name from Baghe-Safa built by Jehangir- the 16th century  Mughal Emperor of Kashmir. The east has  beautiful landscaping thrills with aquatic  sports & other sportive activities with a recently renovated  age old rest house located at what is known as Qazi Bagh in the  foot hold of another hillock (Diyalar Mode)  with   vintage  point over viewing the four directions.  Qazi Bagh also has the same antecedents as mentioned above. In the south-eastern  there is also  a  diamond shaped sculptural  stone about 10 feet  high with almost same girth  and a mosque adjacent to it.  The west with some patches of  willow trees and marshes provide vast openness  with its outlet passing  through Nainara  village of Sumbal tehsil  wherefrom it transcends into river Jhelum to embrace its eldest brother Wular lake  after traversing a distance  of about 12 kilometers in the district of Bandipora.

This 13 to 40 feet deep lake with a shore length of about 11 kilometers provides  livelihood to thousands of people through out the year  through boat/shikara rides, fishing, angling, extraction of water/lotus nuts etc. The lake has all weather connectivity from the end points of Safapora, Kondabal, Pattermulla  and  Nisbal from district Bandipora and is mostly visited on Sundays. It serves as  a penstock to two water supply schemes  one each on its north & south banks augmenting  the drinking water (categorized as soft water) facilities to areas of Safapora, Chewa, Chandergeer  and   Nisbal, Kondabal, Zazna etc, respectively. Apart from lake economics and entertainments, its northern bank shoulders the lighthouse of Government  Higher Secondary School Safapora in tranquil atmosphere with a fascinating overlook of the lake refreshing every moment the inmates preparing for higher levels of education & learning. Adjacently situated is the P-4 Basic Seed  Station Farm of Central Government spread over hundreds of kanals of land adding to lush green beauty of the lake/ surroundings. The lake has a centripetal gravitation on religious counts also. On the northern bank crested with distinctive points of attraction  is  a beatific mausoleum of a great saint known as Syed Sheikh Kamal Saheb with a graveyard  in front and a cremation ground bordering the lake at a distance of some 300 yards eastward.

With the establishment of Wular and Mansbal Conservation & Management Authority (WUMCA) a fresh hope is generated. To execute the plans, cooperation from people is a must.

(The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer  working as Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.)