Study on Ghora Katora Lake
— by Pratyush Sinha, July 19 2021 —
Located on the outskirts of Rajgir, near Nalanda, Ghora Katora is a natural lake around 7 kilometres from the Rajgir city centre. Etymologically, it means “Horse’s Bowl.” It is believed that Jarasandha’s stables, a famous character from Mahabharata, used to be situated at the place where the lake now is. Being an eco-sensitive area, it was declared an ecological restoration site by Bihar Tourism where the movement of petrol/diesel vehicles are strictly prohibited and only horse carts or tongas were allowed, recently e-rickshaws are also permitted to operate. Bihar government has taken various steps to make it one of a kind eco-tourism spot and has declared it a pollution/smoke/polythene-free zone. One of Rajgir and Bihar’s cleanest lakes, it is surrounded by old temples, monasteries, gazebos, and a boating facility. Radiant and peaceful, the lake is home to many migratory birds including Siberian Crane, Bar-Headed Goose, and Dalmatian Pelican from Siberia and Central Asia. The Indian Roller, Black Drongo, Horsfield’s Bush Chat, Bristled Grassbird and Black Francolin, and several other species of birds are commonly found on the Ghora Katora lake premises. Bird lovers frequently visit this place to catch a glimpse of Siberian Cranes, which are the most famous among the varieties of migratory birds that flock at Ghora Katora in large numbers. Set in a tranquil location near Vishwa Shanti Stupa, it has become a popular tourist attraction, and an ideal picnic spot for families – kids can enjoy boating while parents catch up on some quiet time with friends.
Ghora Katora Lake is situated in Rajgir (25° 1′ 48″ N, 85° 25′ 12″ E), Nalanda District of Bihar. The maximum and minimum temperatures are respectively 44 and 20 degrees Celsius throughout the summer, and 28 and 6 degrees Celsius throughout the winter. The shape of Ghora Katora Lake resembles that of a horse and in the middle of the lake, there is a huge 70 feet tall Buddha Statue that was installed in November 2018. On three sides, the mountain ranges encircle the lake and on the fourth side, a road goes out of the lake heading to Nalanda from Rajgir. The average rainfall is 1860 mm, and most rains occur from mid-June to mid-September (Indian Forest State Report, 2009).
Analyses of different nutrients and metals were performed on sediment samples taken from various depths of the Ghora Katora lake. S1 is an area disturbed by human interference (i.e., Boating) and S2 is an undisturbed area near the hills. (Rashmi et al., 2018)
Due to the presence of organic matter, there was a high concentration of Total Organic Carbon (TOC) at the surface layer at both the sample sites. With the decomposition of chemicals present in the organic matter, the TOC decreases with increasing depth. The contamination factor for core-1 and core-2 were in the following order: Pb(Lead) > Ni(Nickel) > Zn(Zinc) > Cu(Copper) > Mn(Manganese), and Pb(Lead) > Ni(Nickel) > Cu(Copper) > Zn(Zinc) > Mn(Manganese) respectively. Samples taken from the surface layer from both the cores show high levels of Phosphorus and Nickel, while samples taken from deeper layers show lower levels. High surface-level phosphorus and nickel are typical in areas where run-off and anthropogenic activities are prevalent. Whereas low concentrations of Zinc, Copper, and Manganese suggest that the sources of these minerals are not present around the lake. The mean Enrichment Factor (EF) for Zinc and Copper indicate minor enrichment, moderate enrichment of Nickel while Lead shows very severe enrichment. The overall Pollution Load Index (PLI) suggests that there are no harmful effects of the minerals present on the water quality.
Though Ghora Katora lake is a fairly protected area, the following recommendations can be utilized to maintain this eco-sensitive zone.
- Using biodegradable cleaning products
It is imperative to use phosphate-free and biodegradable cleaning products to protect the lake from unnatural products. Phosphates from cleaning products wind up in lake water and grow into harmful algal blooms that can kill fish and other life found in the lake. Phosphate removal is a big step in the direction of keeping our environment healthy.
- Making renewable energy bird-safe
Right now, renewable energy is the biggest solution to our world’s climate problems, but it also has a tragic flaw – Migrating birds, especially soaring birds such as raptors (which use thermals and wind currents to travel), are colliding with the wind turbines. So, it becomes important that such facilities should not be installed in and around the lake as a large number of birds flock to this lake.
- Solidify Eco-tourism
The efforts should be made to encourage tourists to appreciate the outdoors and promote sustainable tourism. Littering should not be done as it ruins the beauty of a place. Unfortunately, some tourists just aren’t thinking about their awesome outdoor adventure as they go through life in a trashy manner. The carelessness of others is a sore spot among outdoor enthusiasts. Strict and efficient actions should be taken to strengthen the eco-tourism efforts.
- Preserving the nearby forests
It is essential to growing more and more trees to maintain the ecological balance as well as to keep the environment pollution-free. Being an eco-sensitive zone, deforestation and other activities which disturb the lake ecosystem must be not allowed at all cost.
- Strict Compliance to Rules
The Ghora Katora Lake is banned for vehicles as it is being declared a pollution/smoke/polythene-free zone. But at various instances, it is being noticed that the high ranking officials defy the rules and have travelled the 6.5 km stretch of road by their petrol/diesel vehicles to reach the lake. Better monitoring is needed to ensure compliance to rules, irrespective of the designation.
Ghora Katora, Bihar Tourism – Blissful Bihar, 2015. Bihar Tourism, https://tourism.bihar.gov.in/en/destinations/nalanda/ghora-katora
Forest Survey of India, Indian Forest State Report. Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, 2009.
Ranjan, Rashmi, and Rajesh Kumar Ranjan. “Vertical Distribution Of Nutrients And Trace Metals In Ghora Katora Lake Sediment, Rajgir, Bihar, India.”
Kumar, Nandjee, and Vikash Kumar Prabhat. “Ghora-Katora Lake, Rajgir (Nalanda), an Ideal Bird Sanctuary-A Review.” Anusandhaan-Vigyaan Shodh Patrika 1.01 (2013): 139-141.
Singh, Rana Purushottam Kumar. “Ecological Conservation through Buddhist Resource Management.” Buddhist Virtues: 501.