"Close to Heaven"
Maharana Pratap Sagar - Pong Dam Lake
Pong Lake – Kangra Valley
Location Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh Coordinates 32°01′N 76°05′E / 32.017°N 76.083°E Coordinates: 32°01′N 76°05′E / 32.017°N 76.083°E Lake type reservoir (low altitude) Catchment area 12,561 km2 (4,850 sq mi) Basin countries India
Max. length 42 km Max. width 2km Surface area 240 km2 (93 sq mi) and 450 km2 (174 sq mi) during floods]
Max. depth 97.84 m (321.0 ft) Water volume 8570 Mm3 Surface elevation 433.12 m (1,421.0 ft).
Islands : Several Settlements Pong & Bharmar Shivothan
Maharana Pratap Sagar also known as Pong Dam Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake was created in 1975 building the highest earthfill dam in India on the Beas River in the wetland zone of the Siwalik Hills of the Kangra district of the state of Himachal Pradesh, in India. Named in the honour of the patriot Maharana Pratap (1572 –1597 C.E), the reservoir or the lake is a well known wildlife sanctuary and one of the 25 wetland sites declared in India by the Ramsar Convention.
Things to Do : Angling , Wildlife , Birdwatching , Watersports , Retreats.
Distance from the main cities
Apart from the airports at Chandigrah and Amritsar which are far off, the closest airport to the reservoir is Gaggal at 40 km (24.9 mi).
The reservoir is bounded by the rugged Dhauladhar mountain range, the low foothills of the Himalaya on the northern edge of the Indo-Gangetic plains and the mountain streams cutting through valleys
Hydrology and engineering features
The hydrology of the river system and the engineering features of the Pando Dam are elaborated.
The Beas River on which the Pando dam is located is one of the five major rivers of the Indus basin. The river rises from the Beas Kund near Rohtang Pass, in the upper Himalayas, and traverses generally in a north-south direction till Largi from where it turns sharply at nearly a right angle and flows in a westerly direction up to the Pando dam. The river traverses a total length of about116 km (72.1 mi) from the source to the Pando dam.
Subsequent to the partition of India, the waters of the Indus river system were allocated river wise, with certain stipulations, as per the Indus Water Treaty (1960), between India and Pakistan with India getting exclusive use of the three eastern rivers (the Ravi, the Beas and the Satluj) and Pakistan getting the exclusive use of the three western rivers (the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab). Following this treaty, India prepared a master plan to utilize the waters of 3 rivers which came to its share and the Bhakra Dam was constructed across Satluj River and then the Beas River was tapped in two stages with the Pong dam forming the second stage development. Ravi River has also been developed through the Ranjit Sagar Dam Project or Thein Dam. All three river developments are multipurpose in nature involving irrigation, water supply and hydropower generation.
The Beas Dam has been built on the Beas River as it enters the plains at Talwara, also called as another temple of modern India. It is an earth core gravel shell dam of 435 ft (132.6 m) height above the deepest foundation and is stated to be the highest earthfill dam in India. The reservoir or the lake has a storage capacity of 8570 M.cum. The designed maximum flood discharge of 4,37,000 cusecs (12401 cumecs) is discharged through a gated chute spillway (pictured) located on the left abutment of the dam.
The Hydro Power plant located down stream, on the right side of the spillway structure, has an installed capacity of 390 MW with six generating units (1x60 + 5x66 MW). Water from the reservoir is led into the power house through penstock pipes, each of 5.025 m (16.5 ft) diameter.
Flora and fauna
Pong Dam Lake was declared a Ramsar Wetland site on account of its rich waterfowl diversity for conservation and sustainable use of the wetland. This recognition was based on a proposal formulated by the Himachal State Council for Science, Technology and Environment, Shimla submitted to the Ramsar Bureau, Switzerland through the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of India.
The reservoir peripheral land area has mixed perennial and deciduous pine forests on hills. Eucalyptus trees have also been grown in the area. The forest growth provides enough sustenance to the migratory birds. The tree species of the forest area are Acacia, Jamun, Shisham, Mango, Mulberry, Ficus, Kachanar, Amla and Prunus. A variety of shrubs, grasses and climbers are also reported.The reservoir seasonal water level variation between the maximum water level and the minimum draw down level does not permit growth of much emergent vegetation but some amount of submerged vegetation is noticed.
A wide variety of commercially viable fish, 27 species of 5 families, such as Mahseer, Catla, Mirror Carps, Singhara (native) and others are recorded in the Pong Dam reservoir and its tributaries. Before the reservoir was built, catfishes, mirror carps and a few coarse fish were the dominant fish fauna in the Beas River. With the emergence of the reservoir, commercial fishing was encouraged as an important programme not only to provide employment to about 1500 fishermen but also to promote the eco-tourism potential.
The reservoir was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1983. A 5 km (3.1 mi) belt from the periphery of the lake has been declared as buffer zone for the management of the bird sanctuary. The national as well international significance of the sanctuary is enhanced because of its waterfowl diversity, which was evidenced by the increase of water fowl species from 39 prior to the reservoir to 54 species at post reservoir stage. The number of birds reported, particularly during the winter period of November to March, has steadily increased over the years and the recent records indicate a water fowl count of 130,000 in 2004 and 142,000 during 2005 migratory birds – a phenomenal increase from the average annual count of 18,887 for the period 1988–1995.
The main bird species reported are the barheaded geese (Goose), Anser indicus, northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), Northern pintail (Anas acuta), common teal (Anas crecca), Mariana Mallard (Anas poecilorhyncha oustaleti), Eurasian Coot Fulica atra, red-necked Grebe (Podiceps griseigena), Black-headed gulls, plovers, Black Stork, terns, water-fowl and egrets.
1. The receding shore–line form Mudflats and mud spits from October onwards which provide organic matter, worms, insects and moluscs for wintering birds and plovers. Wagtails, sand larks and Pipits also use the mudflats.
A regional water sports center has been established in the Pong dam reservoir which offers focused activities such as canoeing, rowing, sailing, and water skiing, apart from swimming. Training programmes are organized in water safety and rescue measures with three tier water sports courses - the basic course, intermediate course and advanced course. Modern infrastructure facilities have been created with a 75 bed hostel and a 10 suit rest house. It is said to be the only centre of its type in the country.
The following protection measures have enabled preservation of the reservoir ecosystem.
Preferred Books : Birds of Kangra by Jan Willem Den Besten ( Moonpeak Publishers and Mosaic Books )
Unique Retreat near Pong Dam “Basunti” - Idyllic private lakeside retreat surrounded by water and with commanding views of the Himalayas. It sits at the heart of a designated wildlife reserve and has been developed sympathetically in accord with the local environment.
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