Surinsar-Mansar Lakes of Jammu & Kashmir – History, Access, Topography, Geology, Hydrology, Flora, Wildlife and Restoration Plans

 Surinsar-Mansar Lakes are twin lakes that were designated as Ramsar Convention on November 9, 2005. It is located 62 kilometers away from Jammu City.  

History of the Place 

The two lakes are rich in the religious and historical association. According to Hindu mythological legends, the lake’s origin is closely correlated with the legendary warrior of Mahabharata, Arjun.  

It is believed that Arjun shot an arrow into the Mansar, and a spring gushed of the earth, and now it is known as Surinsar Lake. This beautiful body of water is positioned at a distance of 42 km from the city of temples, Jammu, and located 30 km away from Mansar Lake. 

Access to the Wetland 

November to March is the best time to visit Mansar, with temperatures remaining crisp and cold. In April, it starts to warm up, staying hot till June, after which comes the rain. The weather begins to cool again in September.  

The lakes can be reached via the NH1A Bypass to Surinsar Road (Bajalta Link Road); Surinsar Road to Surinsar Lake via Badgah; Surinsar-Mansar Road to Mansar Lake.  

The nearest airport is Jammu (49 km/2 hrs), which is connected to Srinagar, Leh, Delhi, and Mumbai by Air India, SpiceJet, Indigo, Jet Airways, and go air.  

The nearest rail station to the lake is Jammu Tawi (49 km/2 hrs). 

Topography of Area 

Mansar Lake Surface area is around 590,000 m2 (6,400,000 sq ft). The maximum width of this place is 2,119ft. The average depth of Mansar Lake is 38 meters (125 ft).  On the other hand, the maximum depth of Surinsar Mansar Lake is 38.25 meters (125.5 ft).  

Geology of Area 

The Surinsar-Mansar Lake is surrounded by forest-covered hills. According to the geographical coordinate system, the place is located at 32.6961N 75.1468E GCS. 

Hydrology of the Land 

Mansar is primarily fed by surface run-off and partially by mineralized water through paddy fields.  

The water volume of the lake is 12.37 million cubic meters. The maximum water depth in the lake is 38.25 m. The maximum length and width of the lake are 1204 m and 645 m. The lake’s mean width is 490 m, the mean depth is 20.23 m, and the circumference is 3.4 km. The mean slope of the lake floor is 0.14 m/m. 

Flora Found 

Pine trees are vastly seen around the lake area, providing shelter to a lot of birds and animals.  There are also Peepal and Acacia types of trees in the area. The lake supports the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (ICUN) red-listed endangered natural resources such as Lissemys punctuate, Aspideretes gangeticu, and Mansariella lacustris.   

Wildlife Around 

There is a Wildlife Sanctuary located near the lake. This Sanctuary provides shelter to the following birds and animals such as Spotted Deer, Nilgai, Marcus Crane, and Ducks. Many types of fish and tortoises can also be found in this lake.  

The composite lake is high in micronutrients, for which it is an impressive habitat, breeding, and nursery ground for migratory water folks like the following: 

  • Common Moorhen – Moorhen is a distinctive species with dark plumage apart from the white under the tail, yellow legs, and a red frontal shield. The young are browner and lack the red shield.  
  • Podiceps nigricollis – This is a water bird from the grebe family.  
  • Aythya fuligula – Tufted Duck. 
  • Anas species – In Latin, duck is known as Anas. 

Islands in the Lake

Surinsar Lake is one of the twin lakes in Jammu, the other being Mansar Lake is located around 30 km away from Jammu. The perimeter of this lake is surrounded by thick mangroves, looming pine trees, and beautiful hills. An island situated in the middle of this land is home to thousands of bats. The center of the Surinsar lake lies a charming small island, residence to thousands of bats. During summers, the abundance of floating lotuses on the lake’s surface adds to its elegance. 

Economic Evaluation of the Lake’s Resources 

Newly married couples considered this lake as a promising venue to perform the three circum-ambulations (Parikarma) around the lake. This ritual is performed here to seek the blessings of Sheshnag, the lord of serpents, whose shrine is located on its eastern bank. 

Certain communities of Hindus perform the Mundan ceremony (First hair cut) of their male children here.  There are also some ancient temples on the lake’s shores, which devotees visit in large amounts. Mansar is also ideal for boating, for which the Tourism Department provides adequate facilities. Many people are laboring different trades like operating camel rides, food joints, and selling wheat flour balls that tourists use to feed the fish, turtles, and ducks. It’s also a popular picnic spot with a small park constructed on banks and attracts several students and office workers from Jammu.   

Deterioration of the Lake Environment 

Religious ritual waste and immerses lead to severe threats to the lakes.  

Overuse of fertilizer and poisonous pesticides reaches the lake as run-off from fields. There is also a massive reduction in water speed and water storage capacity of the lakes. The lake is also experiencing deterioration of its water quality. 

There is an encroachment on the lake fringe area, and there is no proper buffer area between the water body and the built mass and reduction in water spread area.  

Inappropriate development in and around wetlands has also affected the ecological character of wetlands. Construction activities have led to deforestation.   

Restoration Plans 

Change of topography in lake catchments needs to be banned and appropriate cropping patterns must be followed.  

Doing rituals near the shore has to be controlled. Water harvesting, urban development, water usage, and waste generation data shall be utilized and projected for the design period to arrive at preventive, curative, and maintenance of the aquatic ecosystem restoration plan.  

Due to its cultural significance, boating and swimming must be restricted at the lake. It is also essential to prepare separate management plans for individual water bodies.  

Conversion of land around the lakes for any kind of development must be banned, and warning boards to be displayed around the water surfaces. Collection of any biomaterials from such water bodies must also be prohibited.