Manasbal Lake is said to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Kashmir. But very few know about this lake which seems to be just like a picture postcard. It is known as the “Supreme Gem of all lakes in Kashmir“. However, the most beautiful thing about this lake is the lotuses that grow at its periphery during the months of July and August. Although we missed the lotus during April, Manasbal did not disappoint us.
The name Manasbal has been derived from the Mansarovar Lake in Tibet. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the lake looks so serene. The lake is not as busy as the Dal Lake in Srinagar, though it is located only 30 km from the city. Perhaps, this is what enhances the charm of Manasbal Lake.
Where is Manasbal Lake located?
Manasbal Lake is located in the hill town of Safapora of Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir and only about 32 km from Srinagar city. The lake can be reached on the way towards Wular Lake and you can take a trip to these two lakes together.
Seated in the Jhelum Valley, Manasbal covers an area of 2.81 square kilometers and have a maximum depth of 13 m.
Visit to Manasbal Lake
Kashmir has some beautiful lakes. While the Dal Lake and Nigeen Lake in Srinagar are a treat to the eyes and Wular Lake is magnificent, Manasbal Lake is known for its serenity and sheer beauty. After exploring many offbeat places in Kashmir, we decided to visit the Manasbal and Wular Lakes. The actual plan was to visit the lakes and the Kheer Bhawani Temple, but the temple was closed to tourists during that time.
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As usual, we started from Srinagar early in the morning. As the car left the boundaries of the city, the scenery started changing. Travelling in Kashmir is lovely and you can never get bored of the scenery. It took us almost an hour to reach the lake.
The Beautiful Lake
We got a first glimpse of Manasbal Lake as we reached the parking area. The water looked azure from a distance and we could vaguely make out the outline of a mountain peak from a distance. There is a beautiful garden from where you can access the lake.
The garden is well maintained and there are gazebos to sit and relax. Next we came to the lake itself. Manasbal Lake is truly quite gorgeous. It definitely looks huge with the majestic snow covered peak standing at the horizon.
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The lake is surrounded on three sides by villages of Gratbal, Jarokbal and Kondabal. The lake is fed by precipitation and rainwater and a few snow fed seasonal rivers empty themselves into the lake.
We saw a few local villagers fishing in the lake and a few children having fun while jumping in and out of the lake. The view of the mountain peaks was, however, my favourite. I could stay hours just looking at the snow covered peaks and its reflection on the blue waters of Manasbal.
What to do at Manasbal Lake?
While you can enjoy the beauty of this grand lake, there are a few other things that you can do here. Manasbal Lake, after all, provides a few opportunities for water activities and amusements.
Go for a Shikara ride
Yes, just like Dal Lake in Srinagar, you can go for a shikara ride here and the experience here is equally wonderful. Manasbal Lake has a few small islands that make the Shikara ride quite appealing. You can also visit one of the islands in the midst of the lake.
Manasbal Lake is a paradise for bird watchers. The lake is the home for a number of Himalayan birds that are found in Jammu and Kashmir. So you can take a leisurely Shikara ride and watch and photograph the beautiful birds.
Various operators now provide water activities like water skiing during the months from May to August. The water sports had been started by the J & K tourism Department to boost tourism in the area. So if you are fond of water activities, then waterski is something that you will enjoy.
Ruins of temples
Just near the eastern shores of the lake, you can find the ruins of an ancient Hindu Temple. The temple was believed to have been constructed during 800-900 AD. Only the upper portion of the temple remains.
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The temple was made of stone and has some images of a deity that looks like ganesha. The temple now lies in an enclosure, but it would have been better if the tourism department had provided some information about the origin and history of these ruins. This would have made them more interesting.
Visit the Mughal Gardens
There is a Mughal garden nearby the lake. The garden was commissioned by Mughal Empress Nur Jahan. The garden provides a magnificent view of the lake and the mountains.
Manasbal Lake and Lotuses
Manasbal Lake is known for its abundance of lotuses which gives it a unique character from the other lakes of Kashmir. During the months of July and August, you can see the pink petals of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) at the fringes of the lake making it look incredibly beautiful. When I heard about this, I really wished to visit the place again in the lotus season. I still think that I would visit Manasbal in one of the seasons to see the lotuses in all their glory.
Visit the Kheer Bhawani Temple
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Kheer Bhawani Temple lies on a detour to Manasbal from Srinagar near the village of Tula Mula. Kheer Bhawani Temple is one of the most famous temples in Kashmir. The temple is said to be located in the middle of a spring and is revered by the Kashmiri Pandits of the Valley. Devotees offer milk and Kheer to the resident deity of the temple.
Located in the hill town of Safapora in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir, Manasbal Lake can be best approached from Srinagar. The lake is located about 32 km from Srinagar town and you can hire a car to visit the lake. The route from Srinagar takes tourists through the beautiful valleys and mountain sides of Shadipur, Nasim and Ganderbal. You can also visit Wular Lake from there.
The best time to visit the lake is during the months of July to October. This is the time when the weather remains brilliant and conducive to water activities. If you want to see the lotus blooming, then you have to visit during the months of July and August.
We did not see any hotels or resorts near the lake, but there is a resort at Ganderbal where you can stay. The Whistling Woods Eco Resort is located in a beautiful destination, about 12 km from the lake.
Manasbal Lake is quite a lovely place to visit in Kashmir. I loved the serenity and vastness of the place and the shikara ride. However, this lake in Kashmir also has its share of problems. Continuous human activities are making the lake eutrophic. Weeds and Pollution are perennial problems, especially during the peak season when it is the height of tourist activities.
There are a number of conservation projects undertaken by the State Government to remove the weeds and depollute the lake. We sincerely hope that it works so that Manasbal does not become another shrinking lake.
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