India is a country blessed with diverse natural resources and scenic beauty. Among them, lakes are one of the major attractions that offer tranquility, recreation and livelihood to many people. Lakes can be classified into various categories, such as freshwater, saltwater, natural, artificial, oxbow and crater lakes. In this article, we will focus on the top 10 freshwater lakes in India that are worth visiting for their beauty and significance.
01. Wular Lake
Wular Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia and the largest in India. It covers an area of about 200 square kilometers and is located in the Bandipora district of Jammu & Kashmir. The lake was formed as a result of tectonic activity and is fed by the Jhelum River. Wular Lake is a natural habitat for many fish and bird species, some of which are endangered. The lake also supports the livelihood of many fishermen and farmers who live around it. Wular Lake is a popular tourist destination for its scenic views, boating, birdwatching and fishing activities.
02. Loktak Lake, Manipur
Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India and covers an area of about 287 square kilometers. It is located near Moirang in Manipur and is famous for its unique floating islands called phumdis. These are masses of vegetation, soil and organic matter that float on the surface of the lake and support a rich biodiversity. The largest phumdi is called Keibul Lamjao National Park, which is the only floating national park in the world and home to the endangered Sangai deer. Loktak Lake is also a source of water for irrigation, drinking, hydropower generation and fisheries.
03. Vembanad Lake, Kerala
Vembanad Lake is the longest lake in India and the largest in Kerala. It spans across three districts of Kerala – Alappuzha, Kottayam and Ernakulam – and covers an area of about 2033 square kilometers. The lake is connected to the Arabian Sea by a narrow channel called Cochin Estuary and receives water from several rivers such as Meenachil, Pamba and Achankovil. Vembanad Lake is a hotspot for biodiversity and hosts many migratory birds, fish and aquatic plants. The lake is also famous for its houseboat cruises, backwater tourism, fishing and the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race.
04. Chilika Lake, Odisha
Chilika Lake is the largest brackish water lake in India and the largest lagoon in Asia. It covers an area of about 1165 square kilometers and is situated along the east coast of Odisha. The lake is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a narrow sandbar and has a complex ecosystem that supports a variety of flora and fauna. Chilika Lake is renowned for its bird sanctuary that attracts millions of migratory birds every year, some of which are rare and endangered. The lake is also home to the Irrawaddy dolphins, which are one of the few freshwater dolphin species in the world.
05. Dal Lake, Jammu & Kashmir
Dal Lake is one of the most iconic and beautiful lakes in India and a major attraction of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir. The lake covers an area of about 18 square kilometers and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, gardens and orchards. The lake has several floating gardens called radhs that produce lotus flowers, vegetables and fruits. The lake also has many houseboats that offer accommodation and leisure to tourists. Dal Lake is a hub for cultural activities such as shikara rides, fishing, water sports and festivals.
06. Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim
Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and the second highest in India. It is located at an altitude of about 5180 meters above sea level near the Indo-China border in North Sikkim. The lake covers an area of about 118 hectares and has crystal clear water that reflects the surrounding mountains. The lake is considered sacred by Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus who believe that Guru Padmasambhava blessed it with miraculous powers. The lake remains frozen for most of the year except for a small portion that never freezes even in extreme cold.
07. Bhojtal Lake, Madhya Pradesh
Bhojtal Lake is one of the oldest man-made lakes in India and was built by King Bhoja in the 11th century CE. It is located near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and covers an area of about 31 square kilometers. The lake was originally constructed to supply water for irrigation and drinking purposes but now serves as a recreational spot for boating, fishing and birdwatching. The lake also has several historical monuments such as Upper Lake Palace, Lower Lake Palace and Kamla Park on its banks.
08. Pichola Lake, Rajasthan
Pichola Lake is one of the most picturesque lakes in India and a symbol of Udaipur, the city of lakes in Rajasthan. The lake was built by Pichhu Banjara in 1362 CE during the reign of Maharana Lakha Singh. It covers an area of about 6 square kilometers and has four islands – Jag Niwas, Jag Mandir, Mohan Mandir and Arsi Vilas – that house palaces, temples and gardens. The lake offers a stunning view of the cityscape with its forts, palaces and hills. The lake also hosts cultural events such as Gangaur Festival and Mewar Festival.
09. Pangong Tso Lake, Ladakh
Pangong Tso Lake is one of the most spectacular lakes in India and a popular destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers. It is located at an altitude of about 4350 meters above sea level near the Indo-China border in Ladakh. The lake covers an area of about 604 square kilometers and extends into Tibet as well. The lake has a unique feature of changing its color from blue to green to grey depending on the time of day and weather conditions. The lake also attracts many migratory birds such as Brahminy ducks, bar-headed geese and black-necked cranes.
10. Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim
Tsomgo Lake is another high-altitude lake in Sikkim that offers breathtaking views of nature’s beauty. It is located at an elevation of about 3780 meters above sea level near Gangtok in East Sikkim district. The lake covers an area of about 15 hectares and has a depth of about 15 meters. The lake derives its name from two Tibetan words – ‘tso’ meaning lake and ‘mgo’ meaning head – as it lies at the source of Lungtse Chu River. The lake is considered sacred by Buddhists who perform rituals here during festivals such as Guru Purnima.
These are some of the top freshwater lakes in India that you must visit at least once in your lifetime to witness their charm and splendor.