Fringed by lush green vibrant forest covered hills, Mansar and Surinsar are most majestic lakes in Jammu & Kashmir State. The lakes are the prime attraction of Jammu region and are conveniently approachable from Samba as well as from Jammu through regular buses and private convenience around the year.
These spots are of ample importance apart from being lakes aloes. These constitute as the big water bodies amidst the hills with beautiful locations. The twin lakes harbour a rich variety of marine wildlife comprising endangered flap shell turtles and other multihued marine lives within the water body of these lakes. These are also prime destinations for the winged visitors who flock over here from far away places for seasonal change and breeding.
The lakes are existing at an elevation of around 670 meters (2000ft) from mean sea level (MSL) and occupy their own placement of enchanting prominence of Jammu’s duggar land. On the Lower Shivalik of outer Himalayas these form an important tourists destination as well.
It is prominently believed that these twin lakes share their sanctity of lake Mansrovar located amidst the pride Himalayas.
According to Jaimini Rishi, who explains in the revered granth Sree Jaimini Ashwmedh these composite lakes were created during Mahabharta when a war was waged by Arjuna’s son Vabruvahan. Both these lakes are an epicenter of Dogra culture as the word Dogra has originated from Sanskrit word Devigrat meaning between two thoughts. As such, it is believed that Dogras are an Indo-Aryan tribe that originated between Mansar and Surinsar lakes.
Presently, both these lakes form the social and cultural importance of Jammu region and more so due to a cluster of temples around the lakes of all temples, the most prominent being the main shrine on the eastern bank of Mansar lake famously called as Sheshnag Mythologically, Sheshnag is a Snake God with six heads. The shehnag temple and his image is within the temple. There are other prominent temples of Umapati Mahadev and Narsimha. There is a temple of Maa Durga on the bank of Mansar lake.
The people who throng over there from far flung areas takes holy dip in the lake on all festive occasions. The newly wedded couples consider auspicious to have three circumambulation of the lake. Some communities however perform mundane ceremony (first hair cut) of the male children which is considered most auspicious. Amongst many dogra families, Sheshnag is revered as Kuldevta and their traditional rituals are performed over here.
Mansar is also famous for Alexandrian parakeet which is local parlance is spoken as ‘Mansariya’ or ‘Rai Tota’. This parrot is considered as a boon. It is so called because Alexander the great had taken to Greek and from that time it is recorded as first export of wild bird from Mansar.
Some suggestions: Since both these lakes are situated in Shivaliks of Jammu region, lying in the outer Himalayas, the soil conditions and the forest cover keep the ecosystem well in place. Despite all that the area over the years has under gone drastic changes. Amongst a multitude factor. Deforestation is the major factor. The pristine grandeur, glory and purity had undergone sea change. So in order to bring back to its originality some innovative and concrete measure shall have to put in place in order to protect, preserve and conserve the natural heritage of our region. The following points in sight are:-
* Soil Conservation measures: Before we go ahead in carrying out any activity, soil conservation measures are of utmost importance. A series of comprehensive measures are warranted to be taken by the soil conservation department.
* Foreclosing the area: The areas need to be fenced by laying out fence line preferably with barbed wire and PCC posts. This shall be prehand treatment for the cover. Once the area is well protected, subsidiary operations shall be carried out in subsequent stages.
* Plugging rills and gulies shall be our next target: Chect dams as and where are demanding shall have to constructed. This way the soil shall be conserved and obviously the drainage system shall be boosted.
All the filth conglomerated with eroded soil/ boulders which drains down into the lake shall be averted and silation shall be kept at way.
* Subsequently, with the onset of Monsoon plantation operation of such species as santha (Dedonia Vescosia) need to be introduced along with other local species e.g. Acacia, Cassia, Syzizium cumin etc. Kutzo vine is very good soil binding species and its inculcation shall go a long way in conserving the soil.
Ipomia cutting along fence line shall re-infore the fence line and shall strengthen the fencing of the area. Cactus along fence line at places yield successfull results and their introduction shall be a boon for life long protection and strengthening of the fore-closed area as a whole.
* Introduction of medicinal, aromatical trees which will is the clarion call of the day.
(The author is former Deputy Conservator of Forest J&K)