April 14, 2008
Situated amidst the newly-built Heritage Village, Dr TMA Pai planetarium, a church and a temple, there is a lake in Manipal popularly known as Manipal Lake or Mannapalla. Till date it has been known only for its natural beauty but it will not remain the same anymore. A comprehensive Rs 1.5 crore project is under progress for the development and beautification of the Manipal Lake and its surrounding areas, to develop it as a tourist spot.
History of the lake
Around 1960, tile factories were established in Manipal and nearby regions. As the soil of this area around Manipal Lake had lots of clay at that time, it was continually removed from the lake region to prepare tiles. Gradually this resulted in the formation of a large pond where rain water would get collected. Later it took the shape of a lake.
Development and Beautification
Mannapalla Development Committee (MDC) headed by former DC V Ponnuraj has taken the responsibility to develop this lake area. Other members of this committee include the Udupi Municipal Commissioner Gokul Das Nayak, social workers, specialist persons of their respective fields and elected representatives of Manipal. For the development purpose an estimate of around Rs one and a half crore has been made, which will be spent in phases. The tourism department and the forest department have also joined hands with MDC to transform the lake area into an ideal nature and health destination.
Work under progress
A tender of Rs 11.4 lac for the fencing of lake area has already been done by the Udupi municipality. Afforestation work is under progress to make this area rich in bio-diversity. Various species of plants found especially in the undivided Dakshina Kannada region are to be planted in this area. Three small islands have been prepared in the lake where plantation will be done later on to attract birds. Nearly fifty-sixty thousand fish-lings of rohu, catla and varieties of other freshwater fishes have been left in the lake. An open auditorium has been built on the lines of popular Hide Park of London, funded by Rotary Club as a part of their centenary celebration. Near to this, a public toilet is being constructed by the tourist department. Boating activity has also been started in this lake with five boats.
As per the Mannapalla lake development plan, plans are afoot to develop and doll up the whole hundred acres of area including sixty acres of lake. A jogging track of 2.4 kilometres track around the lake, a playground, an ayurvedic herbal garden, sunset point, a green park, a swimming pool, a botanical garden and a large fountain will be the main centres of attraction for the spectators in the nearby future.
'Jogging tracks will be prepared very soon. Lights will be installed near the tracks to give them a look similar to Sukhna Lake of Chandigarh. An auditorium and a gallery near the playground will also come up in a very short time. A toddlers' swimming pool will be constructed on the western side of the lake which will have approximately five feet of water for children. The Botanical garden and sunset point will also be there on the western side,' informs retd wing commander Bhojraj, secretary of the Mannapalla Development Committee.
He says further, 'We are also planning to build four entrance gates on all the sides. There will be small lotus ponds close to each of the gates which will give a good first impression on the minds of visitors. On the northern side, a meditation centre covering an area of around one acre will be established very soon. A library will be constructed near the existing main gate from where one will be able to get nature-based magazines like Down to Earth and Nature, collection of nature-based articles and journals. Also plans are on the anvil to keep ducks in the water which will add to the beauty of the lake.'
K Panduranga Gore, another member of the MDC, adds to the list of work going to be done for the development and beautification of Manipal Lake, 'Once the initial phase of work gets over, the lake region will also be developed as a complete health centre. We are planning to establish Mannapalla Arogya Dhama which will be a complete health rejuvenation centre. Ayurvedic herbal garden full of medicinal plants and jogging tracks would only contribute to the purpose.'
Around five acres of land in one corner of the region will be exploited commercially and the profits will be used for further development of the lake. A beautiful garden along with refreshment room and kitchen will serve the purpose of those who seek place for organizing reception parties, birthday parties or any other kind of party at a nominal rate. The concept has been taken from the Golden Jubilee Park of Belgaum.
The problem of migrated labourers who have illegally occupied the lake area is the major hurdle in the development. Most of them have come from north Karnataka districts. They also spoil the lake area by urinating and excreting in the open places.
However, Gokul Das Nayak, commissioner, Udupi City Municipality and also an active member of MDC has some concrete plans which he along with former DC V Ponnuraj will execute for the proper rehabilitation of these labourers.
Explains Gokul Das, 'These labourers cannot be simply thrown away as they are the main workforce behind many development projects in the district. So we have identified 35 acres of land near Hiriadka, a place around six kilometers away from Manipal where all the permanently settled labourers will be shifted in future.'
'For those labourers who come to this place for short duration in search of work, we are planning to build a rehabilitation centre too which will be offered to them at very nominal prices,' he adds.
Under the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Coastal Environment Management Project (KUDCEMP), Rs 15 lacs have been demanded by the committee for this and a few other purposes.
The way work is going on gives clear indication that the Manipal Lake area will quickly develop in to a perfect destination for nature lovers and for all those people who care for their health. Manipal is certainly going to be a hot spot for tourism if the project is realized as per plans.