Being one of the largest Saltwater lake in India, the Pulicat lake is found to have a length of about 50 kilometres and a width of around 5 to 16 kilometres. A major part of the lake lies on the south-eastern portion of Andhra Pradesh and the rest covers a portion of Tamil Nadu in an adjacent manner. The Sriharikota island separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal; which has made the southern end of the island and the northern part of Pulicat as the only entrance of the lake into the sea. The lake’s Bird Sanctuary is encompassed by this waterbody. As described previously, a major part of Pulicat lake comes under the Nellore District of Andhra Pradesh.
History of Pulicat Lake–
The history of Pulicat lake goes a long way back and also has an immense heritage value right from the 6th century and the importance for waterbirds is widely recognized. It has been a nesting place for migratory birds from time immemorial.
Around the period of 16th Century, the lake was colonized by the Portuguese followed by the Dutch who’d drifted to the lake as their ships got stuck on the shores of Karimanal village on the opposite side of the lake’s mouth during their occupation. Pulicat was also known by the name of Palaverkadu.
The traditional festivals of Pulicat Lake-
The lake is known to be a venue of numerous festivals that encompasses the traditional, and the cultural heritage part of Pulicat. The Flamingo Festival is conducted annually by the lake, and in the village of Nellapattu in the Sullurpet Mandal of Nellore District, where it serves as a visual treat, especially for the avid birdwatchers. The festival takes place for 3 days, where they celebrate the migratory birds, which includes the flamingos, that come to the lake for their nesting period and return to their native lands along with their babies. This entire ordeal happens between October and March every year. A number of Exhibition stalls and Cultural Programs would be conducted where varied street artists would come and perform by dressing up in costumes of mythological characters. This festival is also conducted to encourage Tourism in the areas of Pulicat and Nellapattu.
As mentioned previously, the lake is a nesting home for various flora and fauna, especially migratory birds which includes the Flamingos, the White Ibis, Grey Pelicans, Spoon Bills, and Spot Billed Ducks among others. It is also known to support 160 species of fish, 25 species of polychaetes, 12 species of penaeid prawns, 29 species of crabs and 19 species of molluscs. The lagoon is a delicate system, that requires constant inflow of seawater and if there is a constant increase in the sand deposition, the inflow of water gets affected in an adverse manner, which also leads to the depletion of fish stock. Despite its ecological, economic, social and cultural importance, the Pulicat Lake is under serious pressure. For the purpose of long-term conservation, it is essential to preserve this treasure.