A kilometre and a half away from Hyderabad is one of the biggest manmade lakes in existence, the Hussain Sagar Lake. Often pictured with the Buddha monolith that stands surrounded by the waters, the lake is bounded by several other famous tourist spots in Hyderabad, including the wonderful Tomb of Sayedaani Maa, Lumbini Park, and the Birla Mandir. The lake is also the body of water connecting the twin cities—that is, Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
The lake was made in the early 1560’s, under the rule of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah. The Qutb Shahi ruler is said to have named the lake after the local sufi saint, Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali. This huge lake depends on one of the many tributaries of the Musi River for its water supply, and in itself was originally serving the water needs of those living in Hyderabad as well as Secunderabad. It is full at all times of the year.
Because of the lake’s sheer size—it is just a bit under 6 square kilometres in area—it has actually played host to quite a number of water sport events. For example, sailing has long been associated with the lake, and sailing activities like regattas regularly take place in it. Over a hundred entries usually participate nowadays in the lake’s regattas, which draw even more spectators eager to watch the array of yachts competing.
One sad consequence of the lake’s long history of being used by the people around the area is that there have been some recent concerns about pollution taking hold.
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This is actually commonplace in areas with histories of this type, given that the rapid growth of the city would be most likely to lead to both an exponential rise in water demands and an untrammelled increase of sewage flowing through the gutters, usually leading to leaks into the lake. Besides that, one must think too of how the locals use the lake not just for dumping their wastes but also to wash the cattle in the city. Furthermore, the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, where people immerse idols of the god in the lake’s waters, has led to a marked increase in the sedimentation of the lake, as indeed official figures have shown. A recent study actually discovered that the original depth of the lake (over 12 metres) had been more than halved already (with it being only barely over 5 metres now in depth), as a result of the accumulation of sediments, dirt, and various wastes under the waters.
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The worst part, perhaps, is that the waters themselves have begun to manifest this internal rot: there is now a somewhat unsavoury smell coming from them.
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That said, there are so many nationally-acknowledged attractions nearby that you might as well pass by the lake too on your way to them, so as to see the waters for yourself (and take a peek at the Buddha statue too). The government has also actually set in motion a major project to clean up the once-beautiful waters and restore them to their original, pristine and odourless condition. Several hundred crore have already been expended for this purpose and visitors can soon look forward to a much-improved experience in visiting Hussain Sagar Lake once again.