Wular Lake

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Wular Lake (also spelt Wullar) is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia.[3] It is sited in Bandipora district in Jammu and Kashmir, India.[4] The lake basin was formed as a result of tectonic activity and is fed by the Jhelum River. The lake's size varies seasonally from 12 to 100 square miles (30 to 260 square kilometres). In addition, much of the lake has been drained as a result of willow plantations being built on the shore in the 1950s.

Wular Lake
Wular scenic.jpg
Wular Lake
LocationJammu and Kashmir, India
Coordinates34°20′N 74°36′E / 34.333°N 74.600°E / 34.333; 74.600Coordinates: 34°20′N 74°36′E / 34.333°N 74.600°E / 34.333; 74.600
TypeFreshwater Lake
Native nameجھیل ولر
Primary inflowsJhelum River
Primary outflowsJhelum River
Basin countriesIndia
Max. length16 km (9.9 mi)
Max. width9.6 km (6.0 mi)[1]
Surface area12 to 100 sq mi (31 to 259 km2)
Max. depth14 m (46 ft)
Surface elevation1,580 m (5,180 ft)
IslandsZainul Lank
Designated23 March 1990
Reference no.461[2]
Wular Lake seen from Saderkote Park
Boats floating in the Wular Lake
A boat carrying aquatic plants extracted from the Wular Lake
Domesticated geese and cows on the bank of Wular Lake
View of the Wular Lake, JohnDar,


In ancient times, Wular Lake was also called Mahapadmasar (Sanskrit: महापद्मसरः). Nilamata Purana also mentions it as Mahapadmasaras. Mahapadmasar is referred as Bolor by Al-Biruni {960–1031 AD}. The lake, with its big dimensions and the extent of water, gives rise to high leaping waves in the afternoons, called Ullola in Sanskrit, meaning "stormy leaping, high rising waves". Therefore, it was also being called Ullola. Its corrupted form saw its transition as Bolor by Al-Biruni and over the centuries corrupted further to Wulor or Wular.[5][6] The origin may also be attributed to a Kashmiri word 'Wul', which means a gap or a fissure, appellation that must have come also during this period. The word Wul {Gap or fissure}, is also an indicator of its origin to a fissure or gap created.

Natural historyEdit

The lake is one of the 37 Indian wetlands designated as a Ramsar site. However it faces environmental threats including the conversion of large parts of the lake's catchment areas into agriculture land, pollution from fertilizers and animal wastes, hunting of waterfowl and migratory birds, and weed infestation in the lake itself.[7]


Wular Lake is an important fish habitat, the main species being the common carp (Cyprinus carpio), rosy barb (Barbus conchonius), mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), Nemacheilus species, Crossocheilus latius, and various snowtrout species in the genera Schizopyge and Schizothorax. Snowtrout species identified in the lake include the Sattar snowtrout (Schizopyge curvifrons), Chirruh snowtrout (Schizopyge esocinus), Schizothorax planifrons, Schizothorax macropogon, Schizothorax longipinus and Chush snowtrout (Schizopyge niger).[7]

Fish from Wular Lake make up a significant part of the diet for many thousands of people living on its shores and elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley. More than eight thousand fishermen earn their livelihood from the lake, primarily fishing for the endemic Schizothorax species and the non-native carp. Their catch comprises about 60 percent of the total yield of fish in Kashmir. Hundreds of other local villagers are employed by cooperative societies that trade the fish catch. Many other families harvest plants such as the grass Phragmites and the waterlily-like Nymphoides from the lake for animal fodder.[7]


The lake sustains a rich population of birds. Terrestrial birds observed around the lake include the black-eared kite, Eurasian sparrowhawk, short-toed eagle, Himalayan golden eagle, Himalayan monal, chukar partridge, koklass pheasant, rock dove, common cuckoo, alpine swift, Indian roller, Himalayan woodpecker, hoopoe, barn swallow, golden oriole and others.[7]


The Kashmiri sultan Zain-ul-Abidin is reputed to have ordered the construction of the artificial island of Zaina Lank in the middle of the lake in 1444.[8]

Tulbul ProjectEdit

The Tulbul Project is a "navigation lock-cum-control structure" at the mouth of Wular Lake.[9] According to the original Indian plan, the barrage was expected to be of 439 feet (134 m) long and 40 feet (12 m) wide, and would have a maximum storage capacity of 300,000 acre⋅ft (370×10^6 m3) of water.[10] One aim was to regulate the release of water from the natural storage in the lake to maintain a minimum draught of 4.5 feet (1.4 m) in the river up to Baramulla during the lean winter months. The project was conceived in the early 1980s and work began in 1984. The average annual inflows or outflows from the lake is nearly 7 billion cubic meters[11]

There has been an ongoing dispute between India and Pakistan over the Tulbul Project since 1987, when Pakistan objected that it violated the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).[12] India stopped work on the project that year, but has since pressed to restart construction. The Jhelum River passing through the Kashmir valley below Wular Lake which is a connecting lake as per IWT, provides an important means of transport for goods and people. To sustain navigation throughout the year, a minimum depth of water is needed. India contends that the Tulbul Project is permissible per paragraphs 7 (c) and 9 of Annexure E, IWT while Pakistan maintains that the project is a violation of the treaty if the storage is above 10,000 acre feet (12×10^6 m3) for non-power generation purpose.[13] India says suspension of work is harming the interests of people of Jammu and Kashmir and also depriving irrigation and power benefits to the people of Pakistan that may accrue from regulated water releases.

The lake storage capacity can be increased per IWT to 300,000 acre feet or more up to 1580 m MSL by considering it as a reservoir for a run of the river (RoR) hydro power plant by envisaging a low head (nearly 8 meters rated head) power plant.[14] The available deepened river bed level at the toe of the dam can be below 1,570 m (5,151 ft) MSL for 4,000 cusecs flow.[15] Simultaneously, the enlarged lake can also meet the downstream navigational requirements fully during the lean flow season. The regulated buffer / surcharge water storage in the Wular lake would substantially enhance the power generation from the downstream Lower Jhelum (105 MW), Uri (720 MW), proposed 1124 MW Kohala (in PaK), proposed 720 MW Azad Pattan (in PaK), 590-MW Mahl hydropower project (in PaK) and proposed 720 MW Karot (in PaK) RoR hydel projects though its own power plant's generation is marginal.[16][17][18][19] Construction of a RoR power plant with sufficient sluice gates would also flush the sediment from the lake area to preserve the lake.[20]

The lean season water inflows into the Wular Lake are enhanced from the Kishanganga river by the Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant after generating electricity.

Other lakes such as Manasbal Lake, Anchar Lake, Dal Lake, etc. which are not located on Jhelum Main river can be used similar to Wular Lake to impound flood waters for flood protection in downstream areas, hydro electricity generation, navigation throughout the year, irrigation, municipal and industrial uses.[21]


In recognition of its biological, hydrological and socio-economic values, the lake was included in 1986 as a Wetland of National Importance under the Wetlands Programme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India for intensive conservation and management purposes. Subsequently, in 1990, it was designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.[22][1] Against the Ramsar Conventions, the lake area is being used for garbage dumping.[23]


Amongst other developments, two million trees will be cut to restore Wular Lake under the National Lake Conservation Programme.[24] The Environment Ministry of India approved Rs 4 billion for the restoration project for the lake that will take 5 to 10 years and was after long delays scheduled to start in December 2011.[25] The partner organisation South Asian Voluntary Association of Environmentalists (SAVE) is a joint initiative of individuals with the aim to protect the ecology and to conserve the nature at Wular Lake.[26]


Boating, water sports and water skiing have been launched by the Government of India Tourism in collaboration with Kerala Tourism and J&K Tourism. The contract for the operation of the site was awarded in September 2011.[27][citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Slide 1" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Wular Lake". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Archived from the original on 10 May 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Can mistake that ruined majestic Kashmir lake be fixed?". Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Map of Wular Lake and Associated Wetlands" (PDF). Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  5. ^ Ramsar Sites of disputed territory: Wular Lake, Jammu and Kashmir, World Wide Fund for Nature, India, 1994, ... The name "Vulla" from which the present name Wular or Volar (Vulgo Woolar) seems to have been derived, is found in the Janarajas chronicle and can be interpreted as 'turbulent' or the lake with high-going waves' ...
  6. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of India, Sir William Wilson Hunter, pp. 387, Clarendon Press, 1908, ... Wular Lake - Lake in Kashmir State ... bad reputation among the boatmen of Kashmir, for when the winds come down the mountain gorges, the quiet surface of the lake changes into a sea of rolling waves ... corruption of ullola, Sanskrit for 'turbulent' ... The ancient name is Mahapadmasaras, derived from the Naga Mahapadma, who is located in the lake as its tutelary deity ...
  7. ^ a b c d "Wular Lake". World Wide Fund for Nature India. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  8. ^ "How to kill a lake". 30 January 2009. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  9. ^ "Wullar Barrage: An Unresolved 'Question'". 27 June 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Reviewing Tulbul navigation project can put Pakistan on backfoot: Officials". Business Standard India. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  11. ^ "Water flow data of Jhelum river at Baramulla". Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  12. ^ "The Tulbul Navigation Project Dispute and the Negotiation Process" (PDF). Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Tulbul dispute: India seeks international arbitration". The Economic Times. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Can we actually stop the flow of water to Pakistan?". Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Hydrology and Water Budget of Wular Lake (refer Figure 5.5)" (PDF). Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Lower Jhelum Weir W00457". Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  17. ^ "GB: water conservation and preservation". November 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  18. ^ "AJK likely to get Rs 12bn annually as net hydel power profit". 31 December 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  19. ^ "Pakistan plans hydro projects on Jhelum River with Chinese help". Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  20. ^ Romshoo, Shakil A.; Altaf, Sadaff; Rashid, Irfan; Dar, Reyaz Ahmad (2018). "Climatic, geomorphic and anthropogenic drivers of the 2014 extreme flooding in the Jhelum basin of Kashmir, India". Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk. 9: 224–248. doi:10.1080/19475705.2017.1417332.
  21. ^ "Indus Water Treaty - Part III". Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Ramsar Convention". Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  23. ^ "Municipal Waste in Wullar Lake". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  24. ^ "20 lakh trees to be cut to restore Wullar lake". Hindustan Times. 2 June 2011. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  25. ^ GreaterKashmir.com (Greater Service) (20 November 2011). "Wullar Lake to get breather Lastupdate:- Sun, 20 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT". Greaterkashmir.com. Archived from the original on 21 November 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  26. ^ "South Asian Voluntary associat... - Organizations - TakingITGlobal". Archived from the original on 13 November 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  27. ^ Verma, Mohinder (9 January 2011). "Conservation of water bodies remains distant dream - Only Rs 90 lakh for Surinsar, Mansar lakes in 3 years". Daily Excelsior. Retrieved 16 July 2019.