A city sanctuary
An earnest plea from the residents of Jamnagar towards protecting the vibrant avians of their city.
Once a bastion of nature and wildlife conservation, the beautiful Lakhota lake in Jamnagar has and is undergoing a major beautification project. It is supposed to be adorned by musical fountains, light-and-sound shows, heavy illumination, modern restaurants and much more.
People of Jamnagar have inherited the Lakhota Lake from their sovereigns, the famous ‘Jams’. These Jams were visionary rulers and had concern for their subjects. This distinctive wetland is an exceptional example of how a simple measure taken to give endless water supply to the populace turned into a spectacular ‘urban wildlife ecosystem’.
It was the prudence of the Jams that they built a huge water body, with a colossal fort in the middle, to survive the drought years, letting the town expand all around it. This enhanced the beauty of the city and enriched lives of countless people amidst relentlessly spreading urbanization.
Undoubtedly, it takes hundreds of years to build an ecosystem like what we have at this stage, and no time at all to ruin it. The lake boasts a checklist of more than 100 species of birds and it is home to more than 45 species round the year. The bird congregation flanking a historic monument with open spaces and huge elegant trees is a very basic essence of the town. It’s what the people of Jamnagar have grown up with.
This beloved ‘Talaav’ has been a companion to generations of Jamnagaris. People have come here as kids to see and feed the birds; lingered on its ramparts with friends as teenagers; have spend quality time at sunsets with their mates sitting on the benches; frequented the lake as adults with relatives, spouses and children; have passed their old age under the shady trees with grandchildren. People have jogged and exercised here and savoured its pervading moods. In short, life in Jamnagar revolves around the lake in all the seasons, with the birds, with the ‘juice-valas’, ‘kawa-valas’, ‘makai-valas’, ‘nariyal-valas’, ‘sing-valas’ and what not. It’s a supreme gift that history along with nature has perhaps planned with ingenuity to bestow over Jamnagar.
One can only hope that the authorities will respect the feelings of the locals and develop a coherent approach for the betterment of the lake. Rather than contemporary and intrusive beautification, the restoration of the archaeological heritage of the site will preserve the monuments, while leaving the rest as it is, will benefit the avian population.
TEXT AND IMAGES: YASHODHAN BHATIA