Mansar Lake & Surinsar Lake, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Lake Locations:

India - North - Jammu and Kashmir -

Two of the most beautiful lakes in the hills east of the City of Jammu are Mansar Lake and Surinsar Lake. Linked by Hindu mythology, the lakes are about 10 miles apart yet tightly connected to the religious beliefs in the snake-god with six heads, Sheshnag.

The mythology sounds somewhat convoluted to the literal Western mind, involving the story of a battle in which the hero unknowingly kills his father. To bring his father back to life, he makes a ‘snake-hole’, or tunnel with his arrow, captures Sheshnag and gains the power of the mani to restore his father’s life. The hole where his arrow went into the ground became Mansar Lake (shortened from Mani-Sar) and the exit hole formed Surinsar. The two lakes are also connected geologically, formed naturally over 10,000 years ago and fed primarily by springs.

Mansar Lake, the larger of the two, has recently been promoted as a tourist destination by the local government tourism department. A bus goes to the lakes on a regular basis from Jammu, and most area tours include the lakes. Recently the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department has developed a small hotel and guest houses at Mansar Lake, hoping to attract more foreign tourists to the area.

There has never been a shortage of Indian tourists; the shrine to Sheshnag is only one of several shrines and temples located near the lake. Ancient temples near the shore include edifices dedicated to Narsimha, Umapati Mahadev and Durga. Pilgrimages arrive to perform ritual bathing ceremonies in the lake each year. It is a popular custom for newly-married couples to walk the two-mile path around the lake three times to ensure a prosperous and happy marriage. Some religious sects come here to perform the ritual first haircut of their sons. Mansar Lake is considered an acceptable alternative lake for certain pilgrimages to Manasarovar Lake, located in the Tibetan Highlands under the control of China and difficult to reach.

Foreign visitors to Mansar Lake and Surinsar Lake are impressed by their natural beauty amid the forested green hills. The lighted, paved pathway around the lake allows for views from every angle, with plenty of viewing platforms along the way. The path accesses most of the temples and shrines along the lakeshore, passes through Mansar Gardens filled with flowering shrubs and trees, and leads to the small wildlife sanctuary where a variety of native animals and birds dwell, including spotted deer and the nilgai, a type of large Asian antelope also known as the bluebuck. Cranes, waterfowl and other birds enjoy the shallows with some of them breeding in the adjacent wetlands. Turtles are abundant here.

Because of this wealth of nature, Mansar and Surinsar lakes were named a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance in 2006, a designation that draws ecology-based visits. The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department provides a boat rental facility along the eastern shore so visitors can see the landscape from the lake. Most visitors comment on the many large fish they see at the lakel most are varieties of carp that cluster near the shoreline, waiting to be fed wheat pellets sold at the stalls along the lake. Many vendor stalls are located around the lake, selling food and small souvenirs.

In addition to the religious festivals and ceremonies around the lake, many visitors arrive to attend a recently established food and crafts festival in April, the Dogra cultural festival in May, and the annual Chhing festival which features local wrestlers. Although a bypass road leads directly to Surinsar Lake from Jammu, all facilities and activities are located at Mansar Lake. Local Backarwals and Gujjars dressed in traditional costume live in the hills surrounding the lake and are often seen with their open tents from the lakeside pathway. The area is quite heavily populated, with a number of small farms depending on overflow water to irrigate their crops.

Mansar Lake has no inflowing streams; water comes from springs and run-off from the surrounding hills. During the monsoon season, water in the lake may rise as much as five feet, with the overflow caught in pipes for irrigation purposes. The excess ends up in the wetlands and local streams. At least 20,000 people receive their drinking water from Mansar Lake.

Considering the number of people living in the immediate area, the water quality of Mansar Lake is good. There has been concern that deforestation of the surrounding hills and recent construction of additional visitor facilities have been contributing to sedimentation and possible water contamination. The Indian government and international groups have been closely monitoring water quality in recent years and are working to prevent any degradation of the lake’s cleanliness.

Tourism efforts are in their beginning stage. Some Western visitors complain that lodgings don’t yet meet expected standards for European visitors. That will no doubt change as improvements are made. As the two lakes are only a short distance from Jammu, Mansar and Surinsar Lakes are usually a day trip out of the main cities where more formal lodgings can be found. No visit to the Jammu and Kashmir region would be complete without at least a day spent exploring the visual and cultural delights of the two scenic lakes. Plan to stay at least one day here so that you don’t miss any of the sights, and don’t forget to feed the fish!

*Statistics listed are for Mansar Lake only. There are few facts available for Surinsar Lake.

Things to do at Mansar Lake & Surinsar Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Mansar Lake & Surinsar Lake

  • Carp

Mansar Lake & Surinsar Lake Photo Gallery

Mansar Lake & Surinsar Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 146 acres

Shoreline Length: 2 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,185 feet

Average Depth: 66 feet

Maximum Depth: 125 feet

Water Volume: 10,028 acre-feet

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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