Vrindavan, 2019-09-22 (VT): Environmental NGO, and Vrindavan Today Foundation’s sister concern, Friends of Vrindavan has taken the initiative to conserve and regenerate the sacred groves around Mansarovar Lake. The effort began with planting of indigenous trees around the lake which used to be a rare wetland grove and bird sanctuary, just few miles across the Yamuna in Vrindavan.
During the 90’s, the lake was surrounded with bushes that served as habitat for a wide variety of migratory birds. It was a bird watcher’s paradise, particularly for those interested in aquatic species.
Once among the largest lakes in Braj sprawling an area greater than five acres, Mansarovar was reduced to one third of its original size by an artificially constructed boundary. With the changing times and apathy of the government, its water level and size shrunk to 60 per cent compared to what it was in the late nineties.
The lake was restricted with a stone pavement and boundary on all four sides. During this exercise, the bushes, shrubs and a major portion of the groves around it were also destroyed. This drove away birdlife, who could no longer fish here, as the water became starved of oxygen.
Concerned about the deteriorating ecosystem, environmental NGO Friends of Vrindavan, which restored the lake two decades back, has once again decided to revive its natural beauty. In the year 1998, FoV saved the lake from choking with the invasive Water Hyacinth. Now, (after 20 years), the NGO intends to restore the ‘Sacred Groves’ so that birds and wildlife can return to their previous haunts.
According to the FoV sources, as part of the initiative the organization wants to plant native trees and shrubs around the Lake. It has already planted more than fifty trees. Future plans include the construction of a ‘Lotus Pond’ in the adjoining area.
Being one of the pilgrimage centres of Braj, Mansarovar is visited by devotees who organise frequent religious events followed by ‘bhandaras’ in the vicinity of the Lake and Radharani Temple. These events generate a huge amount of garbage which is left scattered in the premises. Going further, FoV will arrange for a proper garbage disposal system so that the sanctity of this ‘Sacred Grove’ is maintained.
“We are currently investing in ways of securing the long-term protection of the Lake and surrounding habitat so as to establish a permanent sacred wildlife sanctuary here”, said Jagannath Poddar, Director of Friends of Vrindavan.
The real visitors of Mansarovar are the birds. Crowds of Waterfowl and Heron frequent the place. A special visitor is the Sarus Crane, an endangered species which breeds only in Northern India. The Sarus Carne is the world’s tallest flying bird; a male can stand as tall as six feet and is held in reverence in Braj.
Local tradition has it that the Lake, or ‘sarovar’, was formed from the tears of Shri Radha while she was in an intensely emotional state of wounded love, ‘maan’. She came here alone fearing that she had lost Krishna. The solitary image of her that is worshiped in a shrine beside the lake helps devotees meditate on this most beautiful and intense ‘Maan Lila’ of Radharani.