Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Bangalore Lakes - Hesaraghatta

Hesaraghatta Lake - Bangalore

Once upon a time, as old-timers say, Bangalore had numerous lakes built by then administrators to avoid water shortage in the city. The irony is, under new administrators, those wetlands were leveled to get space for residential and industrial layouts to meet the demand of rapidly expanding city.

Me and Jaseer were planning to visit someplace within the city on a weekend. An early morning trip to an old prestigious freshwater lake looked like an ideal candidate.

Hesaraghatta lake (famously known as Hesaraghatta grasslands) is not a natural lake (or khere as Kannadigas call it). This lake was created in 1894 across the river Arkavathy to address water needs of then Bangalore city. Sir K Seshadri Iyer (then Dewan of Mysore) and M.C. Hutchins (then Chief Engineer of Mysore state) started a project called 'Chamarajendra Water Works' to create a storage capacity which is three times that of Bangalore's then annual water demand. 

River Arkavati originates from Nandi Hills and flows through Chikkaballapur, Kolar, and Bangalore Rural to join Kaveri river at Kanakpura. Earth bund at Hesaraghatta dam has a length of 1690m and a height of 40.55m. At Full Reservoir Level (FRL), lake has a capacity to store 997 MCft of water. The project covers a surface area of 1100 acres. Water from this reservoir was taken initially to Soladevanahalli pumping station by gravity and then pumped to Combined Jewel Filters (CJF) plant at Malleswaram for treatment and supply.

There are two major dams across Arkavathy. One is called 'Hesaraghatta' and the other one 'Chamarajasagara'. Later is located at T.G.Halli. When Hesaraghatta Lake started drying up around 1925, T.G.Halli was built downstream. This dam had been enlarged from time to time to meet the demand.

Hesaraghatta never saw water at its FRL for more than two decades. The disappearance of many other lakes in the city, led migratory birds to this one. If rains stay away from Bangalore and water demands increase further, then this lake will also become history. 

We - me and Jaseer - planned to start very early in the morning. For visiting any places, I always found it better to start early. One can drive through light traffic, enjoy the cool air, and watch beautiful sunrise on the way, or at the destination.

As Helmuth von Moltke the Elder told once, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy". Our plan to go early was also fell apart. We reached late at Domlur bridge – our starting point - and sunrise happened sometime before we reached there

From Domlur, Hesaraghatta is some 40kms away. Traffic was light and we surged ahead. After Hebbal, we ride through NH 44 for a while and then switched to Dodabellapur Road at Yalahanka. From Nagenahalli we left the comfort of wide roads and switched to narrow ones. After a while, we reached Hasaregatte lake.

From road, one needs to walk a bit to reach a flat lakebed. Bikers don't have to walk. Once upon a time, the entire area was underwater. Now to touch water, one needs to drive some distance through lakebed. Parts of the surface were covered in grass, some other areas had bushes and small trees. Birds were flocking on those trees. We walked a bit more through the grasslands then went to the dam side. There was a narrow blacktopped road going through the top. In the middle, there was a small Durgamba Devi Temple. We walked till the temple and then came back.

Nice way to spend a morning on a weekend.


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