Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Bangalore Lakes - Hesaraghatta

Once upon a time, as old times say, Bangalore was full of lakes. Numerous lakes were built by then administrators, to avoid water shortage in Bangalore. Irony is, under new administrators, those numerous wetlands gave way for residential and industrial layouts to match the demand for housing and industry in a rapidly expanding city.

Me and Jaseer were planning to visit some place within 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 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 build water storage - equivalent of Bangalore’s three year’s water demand.

River Arkavati originates from Nandi Hills and flow through Chikkaballapur, Kolar and Bangalore Rural to join Kaveri river at Kanakpura. Earth bund Hesaraghatta dam has a length of 1690m and height of 40.55m. At Full Reservoir Level (FLL), lake has a capacity of 997 MCft. This covers a surface area of 1100 acres. Water from this reservoir is 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 - 'Hesaraghatta' and 'Chamarajasagara'. Later is located at T.G.Halli. When Hesaraghatta Lake started drying up around 1925, T.G.Halli was built downstream. This dam has been enlarged from time to time to meet demand.

Hesaraghatta never saw water at its FRL for more than two decades. With disappearance of many other lakes in the city and shortage of other big water bodies led birds to this lake. If rain stays 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 very helpful to start early. One can drive through light traffic, enjoy cool air, watch beautiful sunrise on the way or at 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. For every deviation to a well laid plan, one need to pay the price – what cost us was sunrise. We didn’t reach lake before sunrise.

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 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.

In front of us, lays Hessaragatta lake or I would rather say lakebed. From road there was some space to get into flat lakebed. Bikers can go. Flat surface through which we are riding was under water once upon a time. Now to touch water, one need to drive some distance through lakebed. After a while we stopped and then started walking through lakebed. Some parts of surface were covered in grass. After a while dried surface gave way to bushes, small trees and wetlands. There were some birds in this area. We walked a little bit more and then went back to dam side. There was a narrow road going through top of dam and a small Durgamba Devi Temple in the middle. We walked till temple and then came back.

Nice way to spend morning in a weekend.


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