Located in the heart of Udaipur, Rajasthan; lake Pichola is considered to be one the oldest and largest lakes of the city. It is also one of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes of Rajasthan. The lake is extended to a length of 3 miles and a breadth of 2 miles with a depth of 30 feet. As an artificial freshwater, the depth normally gets increased during heavy rainfall which also acts as the main source of water for the lake.
Dating back to the 15th century, the lake was built during the reign of Maharana Lakshaja by Banjara tribe. It was later extended by Maharaja Uday Singh, who built a stone masonry dam, which is called ‘Big Pole’. For decades, the lake and surroundings have been developed and it has become a major tourist attraction.
Picholi was the name of a village that lent its name to the lake. The islands of Jagniwas and Jagmandir are housed in this lake. Along the eastern banks of the lake lies the City Palace. A boat ride in the lake around sunset offers a breathtaking view of the Lake and City Palace.
The lake came to be known overseas, after the English Journalist and writer, Rudyard Kipling had mentioned the lake in a phrase from the book, “Letters of Marque”- “If the Venetian owned the Pichola Lake, he might say with justice, `see it and die’”.
Considered to be a manmade marvel, Pichola has historically been recognised as an example of an engineering phenomenon, as it was successfully constructed in the midst of a desert. The lake is enveloped by a number of palaces, temples and elevated hills on all sides.
As much as the lake provides a bubble of tranquillity, it has faced a lot of problems as well. During the period of 1970’s, the lake, which once had an abundance fishes of different varieties, was then empty with no water beings. It was later found out that, the water quality index of Pichola was poor. Over 1000 toilets were directly connected to the lake and the sewage would flow directly from these into the lake. A lot of solid and liquid waste gets deposited into the lake, due to the growing population and lack of taking effective measures. To top it all, the erosion of soil led to the deposit of sediments inside the lake, depleting its water quality.
Several conservation projects were implemented that involved installing a 24-kilometre-long sewerage line around the area of the lake. The problem wasn’t taken care of completely, and even today the waterbody faces the problems of sewage disposal. This causes a drawback to the tourism in regards to the lake.
Taking up of conservation projects and adopting a strict system in regards to sewage disposal are means to ending this problem. It is a continuous process. With the proper effort and care, the lake will be restored to its glory of serving as a mesmerizing beauty.