In an unique attempt by the Government of Sikkim, the lake that was once seasonal, now has water throughout the year.
Rabongla is a small town situated at an elevation of 7000 feet in the south Sikkim district of the state, and is a major tourist attraction. The town is dotted with innumerable monasteries, and is known for its orchids and cardamom plantations, and its vicinity to the Kanchenjunga.
Lately, the resurrection of Doling lake has added a new avenue to the list of tourist get-aways of Rabongla. Perched on a mountain, in the Barfung village, 4 km away from the town is the Doling lake named after the Doling monastery, near which it is situated.
View of Doling lake revived by diverting water from a nearby stream
Amidst steep river gorges and high mountains, the state of Sikkim in the Eastern Himalayas sits at an altitude ranging from 800 to 28208 ft., with the climate ranging from tropical to alpine. Not only is the state rich in diverse flora and fauna, but is also adorned with countless lakes, streams and rivers. The average slope being 45 degrees, only 10 % of the land is available for cultivation. People here follow mixed farming system integrating agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry.
Lakes, streams and springs have remained the principal sources of water for rural households. However, climate change has brought in its wake, far-reaching changes to all natural resources, more so to these water sources. Springs and lakes have pronounced a decrease in their discharge over the years and at many places have dwindled altogether. As such, drinking water, spells the most significant challenge for the rural population in recent times.
With a view to ensure water security to rural households, the Rural Management and Development Department, Government of Sikkim with technical support from various organisations has undertaken a multitude of activities to revive dying springs and lakes in the state. Lakes, traditionally having played an important role in groundwater recharge, are seen as critical to ensure sustainability of the mountain ecosystem and their revival is therefore, imperative.
And then it came alive...
One such initiative has made the revival of Doling lake possible. The lake was seasonal and saw water only during the rainy season. Some people also say that the lake once had water in plenty all around the year. In 2008, Block Administrative Centre (BAC), Rabongla with the help of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), diverted a nearby stream located in the middle of a forest, through a pipe, into the Doling lake.
“This stream was not being used by the people owing to its difficult location, so we channelized the water and filled up this dried-up lake”, explained Udaya Chamling, Field Facilitator BAC- Rabongla. Though the initiative was undertaken with two objectives, first to beautify the place adjacent to the Doling monastery and give a boost to tourism, and second to supply water from the lake to nearby areas where water is scarce; the latter purpose has not yet been achieved.
Since the water of the stream never dries up, Doling lake today, has become perennial and lasts throughout the year. With fluttering flags bordering the majestic lake, Doling is emerging as an added retreat to those visiting the nearby monastery.
View photos of the revival of Doling lake on Flickr.