An Extreme-Makeover of 1,800-year-old Gujjarakere Lake at a Whopping Cost of Rs 4 Crore
Mangaluru: Mangaluru’s 1,800-year-old Gujjarakere Lake which is among eight others in the revival scheme undertaken by Mangaluru Smart City Limited (MSCL) and Mangaluru City Corporation is complete. The lake has been revived and restored to its former glory. Brimming with sewage, polluted water, hyacinth, filth and garbage is what best described Mangaluru’s Gujjarakere lake until recently. Spread over three acres, not only is Gujjarakere the oldest lake in Kudla, but also one of the largest with historical significance attached to it. Over the decades, this ancient lake became neglected and treated as a dumping ground for waste materials. But all of this is now a thing of the past: Out of the eight lakes that have been identified for a facelift, four – Bajal, Kudroli, Jappinamogaru and Gujjarakere – have been completed, and work on the rest is in progress. Gujjarakere lake has been revived and restored to its former glory, thanks to the lake revival project.
Legend has it that the Gujjarakere lake was founded by Saint Gorakshanatha. Sources reveal that the lake is linked to two distinguished Saints, Macchendranatha and Gorakshanatha, who lived in the surrounding areas of Mangaluru. The two of them were celebrated deities of the famous Kadri Sri Manjunatha Temple. This lake is also connected to nearby famous temples like Mahatobara Sri Mangaladevi Temple, Halekote Sri Mariyamma Mahishamardini Temple, Bolar and Sri Gorakshanatha Temple, Gorakshadhand. But negligence towards this lake by the district administration and MCC had resulted in the dilapidated condition of Gujjarakere. Sources also reveal that during the previous initiatives launched to clean Gujjarekere, labourers had hunted and killed many tortoises that had made the lake their home.
GUJJARAKERE LAKE BEFORE…..
It is learnt that, before removing the silt, the impure water was drained to some extent. The rejuvenation proposal covered dredging of the lake to a depth about two meters deep. As part of the revival, it has a walking track around the lake, a children’s play area, a public toilet and an open gym. There are railings around the lake and the surroundings have been beautified with landscape works. Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Yogish Kumar Jeppu, president of the Gujjarakere Theertha Samrakshana Samithi, a local body that has been working towards conserving the lake since 2002 said, “The water from the lake was said to have medicinal properties and could cure a host of diseases, including skin infections. Springwater fed the lake and it was used for drinking by the locals.”
THE LAKE AFTER EXTREME-MAKEOVER……
He further said “Earlier, religious processions from the neighbouring temples of Mangaladevi and Marigudi would pass by this lake and the deity made to have a jhalaka (holy bath) before proceeding further. But over the last century, these religious activities stopped completely. And with industries coming up around this area, the lake water became heavily polluted. The Mangalore City Corporation too began treating it as a dumping ground”.
A couple of months ago, MLA Vedavyas Kamath had said, “Revival of lakes in Mangaluru was a dream project and we identified eight such lakes that were in a state of disrepair. Gujjarakere was one that could return it to its former glory, especially given its historical importance. The lake had a lot of drainage seeping into it, which was an area of concern. We removed the trash, cleared out weeds and silt and put up steel railings around the lake to prevent further pollution. We have also created a jogging and walking track around it for the public. Most importantly, we want to revive the tradition of deities being brought here for the jhalaka during religious festivals.”
Shailesh, a resident near the lake said, “Water bodies sustain a city and when they are destroyed, it is a matter of grave concern. Now, not only have they been revived, but we have a place of peace and quiet to retreat into amid the city life.” Mumtaz from Cascia said, “There is a lot of difference now- a few months ago the lake was horrible with weeds, garbage, stink etc, but now it has become a needed place for people to walk, exercise or sit and enjoy nature. I only hope that the administration maintains the lake and keeps its standards, because we have seen the parks, lakes which were upgraded, but due to lack of maintenance have lost charm. I now visit this place alone in the morning time, and in the evening I come back with my two kids after their school, and they really enjoy the surroundings of this lake”.
After completion of the Gujarekere Lake, you can see stainless steel railings provided around the Lake for the safety of the children and seniors. A wide area of walking is provided, all interlocked making it comfortable for walking or jogging. The area is well lit with the new LED Street lights around the lake. The partial area around the lake has been spread with sand turning it into a play arena. There is also Gym equipment for young people to exercise. The Lake also features new benches, wastebaskets, and green turf making it look beautiful. Apart from the decades-old existing trees, nearly 30 plus trees have been planted. It is learnt that in order to increase the oxygen level in the Lake, a small boat model aerator will be added in the nearest future.
With the extreme makeover of this Lake, the area is now free of mosquitoes, which could lead to malaria and Dengue diseases. From children, youth and seniors everyone is happy to use this area during mornings and evenings, either for walking or sitting and watching the beauty of nature. Even a bunch of ducks give company to the visitors at the Lake. It is learnt that the project was executed by Bengaluru based Visaga which will maintain it for a year, after which MCC has to maintain it.