A Day at the Karanji Lake in MysoreDuring our last vacation we had in Mysore, one of our group members suggested that we must visit Karanji Lake. Many of us in the groups had no idea about this lake but we had enough information about Mysore Zoo and wanted our kids to take there. When asked at the hotel reception, we were told that this lake is located just behind the Mysore Zoo and is within 3 km from the center of the Mysore City. The children seemed to be excited as they had already gathered information that boating facility is there in this lake so we had no other option but to plan a visit to the Karanji Lake. Local people call this lake Karanji Kere.
When our hotel manager suggested us to keep the entire day for Karanji Lake, we were surprised as we wanted to cover Mysore Zoo and Karanji Lake on the same day. When we came back to the hotel after spending the entire day at Karanji Lake we thanked our hotel manager for his wise suggestion.
We packed some dry edibles, water bottles, juices and cameras (both video and still) with us and left the hotel at 7 AM for Karanji Lake with a plan to come back to the hotel to enjoy our lunch. Karanji Lake Nature Park is on the Lalitha Mahal Road and it is same road that we take to head towards Chamundi Hills from Mysore Zoo. We headed towards Mysore Race Course and then at the junction we took a left turn to get onto Lalitha Mahal Road. When we crossed the next junction we got the entrance of Karanji Lake Nature Park on the left side. When we reached the lake premise, we found a paid parking place. The parking place is small but we managed to get a place to keep our vehicle. No vehicle is allowed within this Nature Park.
While we were buying the entry tickets we got surprised to know that we will get opportunity to visit an aviary, a butterfly park, a watch tower, a fountain, a nursery and numerous species of birds at this lake. This made adults and the kids of the group more cheerful and we all got ready for our walking trail in this Karanji Park for the next 3 to 4 hours. As we entered the lake area, we found many medicinal plants there. We were told that these plants are used to for public awareness and to educate common people about the usefulness of these plants and why they should be conserved.
The history behind establishment of this beautifully landscaped lake is quite interesting. This area which measures near about 90 acres was once a place where dumping of garbage used to take place. The natural habitat and food source of many aquatic animals, residential and migratory birds got destroyed because of this so the government took initiative to transform this place into a natural shelter for birds and other species. With the financial assistance of about Rs. 1.12 crores from Asian Development Bank Project with the help of Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation, cleaning of this water body, protection of the same, repairing of feeder channels, construction of jetties and various facilities for the visitors were done. The authorities of Mysore Zoo acquired this lake in 1976 and on 25th April 2004, the lake was opened for the public. Since then, this lake has not only become one of the most visited places of Mysore but has helped the government to earn huge amount of revenues.
Every time we spotted a bird perched on a branch of a tree or floating in the water the kids screamed with joy. It felt good that nature still attracts children with its unique creation in this world full of gadgets like mobile phone, video games and computers. We could spot only some of the bird species that are found here in this lake. Black Ibis and Open Billed Storks were seen perched on the tree stumps so we had a great time watching their activities. While we were walking along the pathways of the lake, we saw few Painted Storks also. We enjoyed the sight of Blue Heron flying over the lake water and also the Large Cormorant Landing on the water. My younger kid compared these activities with the taking off and landing of a plane. Nature has always been a great teacher and we could never deny it! We came to the aviary that is also the part of this lake. The dimension of this aviary is 60 m long, 40 m wide and 20 m high.
The aviary has two small water bodies and an artificially created waterfall. The aviary has 17 species of birds. Peacocks, pigeons, rare pheasants, turkeys, black swans and ducks are kept within netted enclosures. Many of the visitors were busy taking photographs of these birds but we felt little sad looking at the birds in captivity. This aviary is the largest walk-through aviary in our country. There is a huge enclosure for the Sarus Cranes just adjacent to the aviary. Sarus Cranes are the largest birds found in India as have height of about 6 feet. Sarus Cranes are the tallest birds in the world that can fly. We got scared by the loud cry of these cranes when a small squirrel passed very close to these cranes. Loud cry by the largest flying bird!
As we kept on walking, we reached to a watch watcher which has the height of 3-storey building. We enjoyed the lovely sight of the lake and the trees fringed around it. Many Sun birds were seen in the bushes that were around the base of the watch tower. We had our own binocular set which we used to watch the surroundings and we also used the telescope provided at this watch tower to watch the panoramic landscapes and birds in their natural habitat. Our next destination is the Butterfly Park that is only 15 to 20 minutes walk from the watch tower.
As we walked towards the Butterfly Park, we also saw few male Spot Billed Ducks gracefully floating in the water. Male Spot Billed Ducks are differentiated from the females with the red markings at the base of their bills.
We also saw some Purple Heron, Large Egret, Brahminy Kites, Pelican and Little Grebe during our walk along the lake.
The birds that we could not spot at this lake but are found here include Red Wattle, Sandpipers, Lapwing, Red-Whiskered Bulbul, Booted Warbler and Greenish Warbler.
The entire time we stayed at Karanji Lake, we kept on wondering how a place that was once a dumping ground could be transformed into one of the best shelters for the birds and other aquatic animals. My children were absolutely surprised when I told them about the history of Karanji Lake. We stayed there almost the entire day but failed to realize how quickly the time passed. My children were bubbling with energy the moment they could identify a new bird. When we told them that we will take them to a butterfly park located within the Karajnji Lake Complex, their joys knew no bounds. This park exclusively meant for keeping the butterflies is created on an island of Karanji Lake. About 45 species of butterflies are kept at this Butterfly Park. This park is also an ideal breeding ground for the butterflies as right kind of plants for hosting the butterflies and providing them nectar are planted here. Many of these plants have been brought from different regions and hill stations. After looking at the colorful species of butterflies, children were not willing to come back.
Children wanted to go for the boating in the lake but we hardly had energy to enjoy the paddle boat ride. So, the group decided to hire a boatman who will row the boat. We had nice time enjoying the boat ride along the islands of Karanji Lake. We had to stand in the queue for some time to get the tickets for the boat ride. By the time we landed on the banks of the lake, we felt like refreshing ourselves with a hot cup of coffee so we entered the nearby coffee booth. Children still had lots of energy so they went to the Children’s Park located nearby.
I am providing entry fees and other details about the Karanji Lake below so that you could also enjoy this wonderful place and come back with the most cherished memories.
Entrance Timings: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm on all days of the week except Tuesday
Entry Fees: Rs. 10/- per adult, Rs. 5/- per senior citizen and children from 5 to 15 years, free entry for children below 5 years.
Camera Fees: Rs 10/- for still camera, Rs 25/- for video camera
Parking Fees: Rs. 50/- for Bus, Rs 25/- for Mini Bus/light commercial vehicle, Rs. 10/- for Motor Car, Rs. 5/- for Scooter and Motor Cycle, Rs 2/- for Cycle.
Pedal Boats: Rs 25/- per adult, Rs. 15/- per child
Row Boats: Rs 25/- per adult, Rs. 15/- per child
Phone: 0821 243 9862