Five centuries-old lakes of Maharashtra full of water even today

If the kings and members of royalty had the vision to create lakes across Maharashtra, the citizens were also aware of the need for water conservation. Here are five lakes that have withstood the vagaries of time and pollution to survive even today

Team 30 Stades
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Futala Lake, Nagpur, Maharashtra

Lakes have been the lifeline of cities and villages for centuries. They provide water crucial for drinking, irrigation and other uses. Most lakes are interconnected with canals and rivers, which help to transfer excess water to the next water body. 

If the kings and members of royalty had the vision to create lakes across Maharashtra, the citizens were also aware of the need for water conservation. They also built lakes that continue to be a water source for irrigation and recreation even today.

During rains, the lakes absorb excess water and provide stored rainwater for use in summer. Recharged by underground aquifers, Maharashtra has a well-developed network of lakes. 

While the number of lakes in the state is estimated to be over 700, most of them were built around 200 years ago. Here are five lakes that have withstood the vagaries of time and pollution to survive even today: 

1. Ambazari Lake

It is situated near the Southwest border of Nagpur and is one of the 11 lakes in the city. Being surrounded by mango trees gave the name Ambazari to the lake – ‘amba’ means mango in Marathi.

ambazari lake
Ambazari Lake, Nagpur. Pic: Flickr

Ambazari is also the largest lake in the city. Nagpur’s Nag River originates from this lake. It was built in 1870 under the Bhonsle rule to supply water to the city. Eminent people and government officials were supplied water from the lake through clay pipes. Adjacent to the lake lies the Ambazari Garden, set up in 1958 across 18 acres of land. Managed and maintained by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, it adds to the charm of the area.

Also Read: 1000-year-old Amer Fort’s very modern water harvesting system

2. Bandra Talao

Also known as Swami Vivekanand Talao, it is a small lake nestled in Bandra, the centre of Bollywood. Earlier called Lotus Tank, Bandra Talao has a Grade II heritage status, making it a structure of regional importance. It is spread over 7.5 acres and was built over 200 years ago by a prosperous Konkani Muslim from Navpada, an adjacent village. 

bandra talao
Bandra Talao, Mumbai. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

The lake's maintenance was later taken over by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, which renamed it Swami Vivekanand Sarovar. The local authorities have deployed cleanup marshals to conduct random checks and issue fines to litterers. 

3. Futala Lake

Also known as Telankhedi Lake, Futala Lake, lies in the western region of Nagpur. Originally constructed by the Bhonsle kings of Nagpur, this scenic water body is spread over 60 acres of land. Encircled by forests on three sides and adorned with a landscaped beach on the fourth, it offers a picturesque retreat. 

Also Read: Jal Sahelis: Women water warriors fighting drought in Bundelkhand

Futala LAKE
Futala Lake, Nagpur. Pic: Nagpur Tourism

It is renowned for its vibrant and musical fountains. The lake is surrounded by colourful flowers and trees, which add to its natural charm. Futala Lake offers pedal boats, row boats, motor boats and water sports.

4. Dhamapur Lake

Nestled amid the lush forests of Sindhudurg district, Dhamapur Lake was constructed in 1530 by the residents of Dhamapur and Kalse under the leadership of Nagesh Desai, Mandlik of the Vijaynagar dynasty. Funded entirely by the community, it stands as a testament to local initiative.

Dhamapur Lake
Dhamapur Lake, Sindhudurg. Pic: Flickr

Dhamapur is the largest lake in the district, rivalling perhaps only Tadoba Lake in size. It recharges the groundwater by acting as a sponge, prevents floods and allows the mixing of minerals in the water. Around 61 minor streams meet the three streams that feed Dhamapur Lake. Apart from biodiversity conservation, and fishing, it supplies water for irrigation and other activities.

Also Read: Chand Baori: India's biggest & deepest stepwell built in the 9th century for water conservation

5. Rankala Lake

It is situated in the heart of Kolhapur city. Rankala was a stone quarry until an earthquake in the 9th century caused immense structural damage to the quarry. It caused water to accumulate from an underground source forming the Rankala Lake. 

Ranakala Lake. Pic: Kolhapur Tourism

Some other accounts say it was built by Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj in the 18th century. The lake is spread over 107 hectares and has two ghats -- Rajgath and Marathghat. The Shalini Palace is on the lake’s west and the Padma Raje Gardens are on its east. Tourists can enjoy horse riding and boating at the lake. The banks of the lake are well-maintained with seating arrangements and picturesque gardens. The lake was earlier used for providing drinking water to Kolhapur but now it is used only for irrigation and recreational purposes.

Also Read: Jodhpur: Centuries-old lakes built by royalty supply water to residents even today

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