Wednesday, September 16, 2009


“ On the Bank of Vitasta where she emerges from the waters of the MahaPadma , he Founded a town comparable to the Paradise to bear his own name.”
(Fifth Taranga Canto 118 Rajtaringini of Kalhana )

This is how Kalhana describes the birth of Sopore, the town founded by Suyya on the banks of vitasta where it emerges out from Wular ( MahaPadma ) Lake . This lake finds mention repeatedly in Taranga Fifth of Rajtaringini.When we were young we were always told by our teachers that Wular is the biggest Fresh water Lake of Asia . We were also told about the stories that some temple lies buried in the centre of the lake and after 4 PM it was not advisable to venture into the lake in a boat in view of storms and turbulence . My mother would always be praising the Quality of Water Chestnuts , Fish , Nadru ( Lotus roots ) and Voguv ( Straw Mats ) and of course the Pachhin ( Hunted Flying Birds ) of this lake as the best in entire Kashmir . During my college days I had visited WATLAB area once and thereafter I also visited this lake possibly in 1981 or 1982 . I could feel the shrinkage of water area as well as the rapid growth of weeds and habitation taking place on its banks . On my recent visit to this area on 12th of September 2009, I got the shock of my life . This lake is also dying fast. Two thirds of the lake area is already dead..

South and east side of the lake from where Vitasta and Madhumati rivers enter it respectively will possibly be a Land mass very shortly. From hill tops around the lake , I could see just weeds , trees , Poplars and sedimentation in the Lake . Boating is impossible and the Aquatic life is fast vanishing . But for water Chestnuts nothing significant is extracted from the lake now. Mud , silt and sediments are poured into the lake by Vitasta from south side which has almost brought death to a major part of the lake on this side .From east side the Madhumati pours similar sediments in to the lake . The Erin Nallah also dumps all sediments in to the lake from this side . Houses , Weeds and tree plantation in the lake bed have also brought death to the aquatic life . Approximately 1100 years ago Suyya ensured that the bed of the lake is lower than the bed of Vitasta from the place where it emerges out from this lake .That made the water to rush out else the lake would have engulfed entire area upto Manasbal.and the havoc of floods in Vitasta would have made life miserable for the entire population of valley. Now that a large number of water spring have been choked , Deep sediment deposits have reduced the water area , the inflow of water into the lake from Vitasta and Madumati and Erin Nallah too has come down , the aquatic life has vanished , malignant Weeds have grown in about three fourth area , Tree Plantation has taken place in the lake bed , Rapid Habitation is taking place in and around the lake and on the top of it none is bothered to touch the subject , the lake is heading for a rapid extinction .The total visible area of the lake at present is is about 20kms in length and 8 kms width . The average depth on northern side is just 12 feet now.
Having said so , the lake also remains one of the most scenic spots in valley . View it from hills surrounding it or from the Hill top Ziyarat of Baba shukruddin or from the picnic spot of Watlab on its banks near sopore and experience the greatest visual delights. Small number of birds still continue Fluttering over the lake. A beautiful view park has been developed by MWDA( Manasbal and Wular Development Authority ) on a hill top just 15 Kms from Manasbal. An army camp is located near this park . The toilets of this Park are well maintained . The central fountain in this garden is beautiful and functional . The garden has well maintained green lawns with ROSES , DAHLIAS and some young CHINARS . Kudos to MWDA. MWDA is doing an excellent job by creating some more beautiful fountain bearing parks and gardens on mountain slopes around the lake but the lake as such remains totally neglected . Roofless Boats( Demb Naav ) paddle in the lake and bring loads of Water chestnuts to be sold in the Bazaars of Bandipora and sopore . Chestnuts are also sold in srinagar city . kashmiris relish the Kernel after just boiling them or frying them . The kernels( GOJEE or GHOUR or MESSA in kashmiri ) are also dried and then powdered . The powder is also consumed as a food. Kashmii Pandits make use of this kernel Flour during Fasts or other religious ceremonies Enjoy the views with some lines form a poem of renowned Bulgarian poet Nikola Vaptasrov. I have been a reader of this Bulgarian poet and some of his poems are touching . Like Faiz , he too was a marxist and committed to fight against social injustice and inequality . One may disagree with his political thought but one is floored by his vision for the humanity .
For the hardship and affliction ,
We do not seek rewards,
Nor do we want our pictures
In the calendar of years.
Just tell our story simply,
,To those we shall not see,
Tell those who will replace us –
We fought courageously..
( a K Mota )


  1. Thanks for the pics of great Wolar. And if nothing else, Leftist thoughts gave us some great poets.

  2. Great pics and interesting description. Keep it up.


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