One of the most beautiful of the Kashmir’s lakes is undoubtedly Manasbal Lake, just a little away from Srinagar. The lake is bounded by mountains and a triad of villages also surrounds the lake: Ganderbal, Kondabal, and Jarokbal. It is alleged that the lake is the one with the greatest depth in the Kashmir, at a depth of about 13 metres at its deepest point. It is fairly well-known for being a calm lake, on the whole, and one that is accented by the sound of birdcalls.
Birdwatchers come here often, as do tourists eager to waterski. The place is obviously popular, although locals come here too for water for use in agriculture and horticulture, as well as for tending to their fish farms. It is not necessarily a busy lake-at least, not compared to Dal Lake but it does see a bit of regular activity on its waters as well as in them.
As far as travellers are concerned, though, the lake’s primary draw is its sheer attractiveness: the backdrop of misty blue mountains and fringe of old oriental planes, apple trees and willows simply lends the scene a majestic tranquillity that is yet unbroken by the tourists coming here. The shore to the north holds yet another embellishment to this gorgeous scene: the ruins of a fort from the 1600’s, which the Mughals were said to have built and which the locals now call Darogabagh. There are also the remains and some fairly good specimens of old Buddhist shrines from ages back all around the lake, very near its banks.
Despite all this beauty, the lake sees its fair share of sharks, metaphorically speaking: as with many other lakes in the Kashmir that have people living nearby, eutrophication of the waters has been reported by scientific groups taking readings of the waters, and encroachments on the area of the lake as well as effluvium of waste from residential areas nearby have led to severe issues for the future of this natural gem of the land. Fortunately, the Wular-Manasbal Development Authority was created by the Kashmir government to deal with these issues, and in 2007, it was already dredging the lake’s waters and taking away the constructions that some people had put up on the banks or nearby without permits. Most of the residents have spoken favourably of the changes, noting that the waters have since appeared healthier and the wildlife more plentiful.
July and August make for fantastic times to visit the lake due to the scenic bloom of Sacred Lotus, also known as Indian Lotus, on the edges of the lake. During these months, the deep blue waters of Manasbal Lake are edged with the most delicate pink and yellow flowers all over their periphery. Even if you cannot go at this time, there are still other things to see in Manasbal that should motivate you. For instance, there is an ancient temple (dated to be from around 800-900 CE) fairly recently unearthed from one of its shores, the Manasbal Temple, some more ruins of Mughal construction, and so on.