India has a large number of beautiful lakes spread all over the country from Kashmir to Kerala and from Rajasthan to Assam. These water bodies are amongst the biggest tourist attractions in India.
If you are a passionate traveler and enjoy nature, visiting some of the lakes from our list can be an extraordinary and a once in a lifetime experience.
Whether you’re searching for serenity or want to make a splash, here’s a list of unique lakes where you can enjoy a perfect lakeside vacation.
1. Loktak Lake, Manipur
Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in North-East India and is known for the unique ‘phumdis’ floating over it.
‘Phumdis’ are a series of floating islands and are heterogeneous masses of vegetation, soil and organic matter, in different stages of decay.
The largest phumdi is in the south-eastern part of the lake, covering an area of 40 sq.km. This is world’s largest floating park, named Keibul Lamjao National Park.
2. Sambhar Lake, Rajasthan
The Sambhar Salt Lake is the largest inland salt lake in India and even finds mention in the mythological epic, ‘Mahabharata’. History states that the lake was a part of the kingdom of a demon king known as ‘Brishparva’.
The Sambhar Lake is known for the production of brine/salt and also houses one of the largest salt manufacturing units in the country.
Apart from this unit, tourists also flock the Sambhar lake to get a glimpse of the fames ‘Shakambari Devi’ temple and for bird-watching. Flamingoes, pelicans and the waterfowls are commonly sighted at the Sambhar Lake.
The best time to visit Sambhar Wildlife Sanctuary and the lake is from October to March. Avoid travelling to Sambhar from June to September, as this is the monsoon season and neither would you find much wildlife then, nor would you be able to witness much of salt production.
3. Lonar Crater Lake, Maharashtra
The Lonar Crater Lake is one of Maharashtra’s best-kept secrets. Lonar is distinguished by the fact that it is the world’s third largest crater.
It has its genesis nearly 50,000 years ago, when a 2 million-ton meteorite impacted the earth to create a depression 1.83 KMs in diameter and 150 meters deep. Over time, the jungle took over, and a perennial stream transformed the base into a tranquil, green locale.
And yet, for all of its rareness, surprisingly few have heard of Lonar Lake apart from locals and occasional trekkers. The best time to visit this place is during the monsoon season(June-September).
4. Roopkund Lake, Uttarakhand
Roopkund, locally known as Mystery Lake, is a high altitude glacial lake in Uttarakhand. A shallow lake, having a depth of about two metres, Roopkund has gained popularity because of the human skeletal remains visible at its bottom when the snow melts.
There were many theories for the presence of the skeletons. Radiocarbon dating of the bones has shown that they belong to around 850 AD. What has not been determined is where the group was headed.
There is no historical evidence of any trade routes to Tibet in the area, but Roopkund is located on an important pilgrimage route of the Nanda Devi cult with Nanda Devi Raj Jat festivities taking place approximately once every twelve years.
5. Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim
Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 17,800 ft. It is located in Sikkim, just 5 kilometres south of the border with China.
It is considered a sacred lake by both Hindus and Buddhists. The beautiful and awe inspiring lake remains milky in colour throughout the year.
According to a legend, since the lake used to remain frozen most of the year, it was not possible to use its water for drinking purposes.
When Guru Padmasambhava passed by, while returning from Tibet, the local residents are reported to have approached him for providing source of water. The Guru obliged.
A portion of the lake touched by him does not freeze in extreme winter.
6. Vembanad Lake, Kerala
Vembanad Lake is the longest lake in India and the largest in Kerala. It is also known as Punnamada Lake. The lake covers 80 km in north-west to south-east direction from Munambam, (Ernakulam District) in the north to Alappuzha in the south.
The major portion of the lake is in Kottayam District. The width varies from 500 m to 4 km and the depth from 1 m to 12 m. Vembanad Lake is at the heart of Kerala Backwaters tourism with hundreds of kettuvallams plied on it and numerous resorts on its banks.
The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located on the east coast of the lake. The famous Nehru Trophy Boat Race is conducted in a portion of the lake.
The houseboats on Vembanad Lake (India’s longest lake) are works of art – truly wonderful and very picturesque. The boats are constructed using traditional methods with bamboo, coconut fibre and coir ropes which bind the wooden boards together.
7. Tso Moriri Lake, Jammu & Kashmir
Tso Moriri, at a distance of around 250 km from Leh is a high altitude mountain lake at a height of around 4500 m, in Ladakh.
Mighty, endless, vast, abundant, clear, beautiful and pure…it touches and moves us like only Nature can. It is the largest of the high altitude lakes entirely within India.
Accessibility to the lake is largely limited to summer season, though Karzok on the northwest shore and the military facilities on the eastern shores have year-round habitation.
From January to March, Tso Moriri remains mostly frozen, extremely cold conditions with no options to stay around the lake. Around April, it starts to melt and starts transforming into the beautiful multi shades of blue colors off the shores.
May to August is the peak tourist season but as compared to Pangong Tso it gets less number of tourist.
8. Pangong Tso Lake, Jammu & Kashmir
Situated at a height of 4,250 meters, far away in barren land in Ladakh, Pangong Tso is one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia. Pangong in Tibetan means “long, narrow, enchanted lake”.
The crystal clear blue lake sprawls over an area of 100 kilometers across the borders of two countries in India and China. It is one of the charismatic lakes situated on the Changtang plateau in eastern Ladakh region.
The first glimpse of the tranquil, azure blue waters and shaky lakeshore remains etched in the memory of tourists. This area falls under army control and requires pass from deputy commissioner of Leh.
The surface of the lake becomes so solid that one can walk over it. On the surface of frozen lake a gala festival of ice skating is organised. It calls on large number of skiers and ice skaters from several parts of the world. During this festival, tourists also get to see the local culture of the native people.
9. Chilka Lake, Odisha
Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon with water spread ranging from 1165 sq km m the rainy season to 906 sq km in the dry season is nestled in the heart of the coastal Odisha (Orissa).
It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world. Chilka is recognised as one of the most important wetlands in the world because it is home to a phenomenal variety of birds. Chilka Lake is one of the best bird watching spots in India, and is also popular for fishing and angling.
10. Pichola Lake, Rajasthan
Pichola Lake is one of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes of India. Located in the heart of the city, Pichola Lake is the oldest and one of the largest lakes of Udaipur.
It is an artificial fresh water lake, created in the year 1362. The beautiful Pichhola Lake mesmerises everyone and the scenic surroundings add to the charm of the lake.
Maharana Udai Singh was also mesmerised by the lake and the surroundings so he extended the lake when he founded the city of Udaipur and also built a dam made of stone that is in Badipol region on the shore of the lake.
There are palaces, temples, bathing ghats and hills all around the lake. There is the Machhala Magra hill on the southern part of the lake from where one can see the Eklingarh Fort.
The City Palace of Udaipur gets broader along the eastern bank of the lake. There is the Mohan Mandir built by Jagat Singh in the north-east corner of the lake.
11. Dal Lake, Jammu & Kashmir
Dal Lake is a located in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Scenic views of the lake can be witnessed from the shore line Mughal gardens, such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and from houseboats cruising along the lake in the colourful shikaras.
Aside from the Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh, some of the other places frequented by tourists are the Shankaracharya temple, the Hari Parbat, the Nagin Lake, the Chashme Shahi, the Hazratbal Shrine, and the Mazar-e-Shura cemetery containing the graves of famous Mughal-era poets.
Visitors and native alike also enjoy relaxing on the water in a houseboat or a shikara boat, often called “the Gondola of Kashmir”.
12. Hussain Sagar Lake, Telangana
The Hussain Sagar Lake is one of the popular landmarks and important tourist destinations in the city of Hyderabad.
Hussain Sagar Lake, situated about 2 km from the heart of the city of Hyderabad, connects Secunderabad to Hyderabad.
The Hussain Sagar Lake of Hyderabad is the largest artificial lake in Asia. A large monolithic statue of the Gautama Buddha, erected in 1992 stands in an island in the middle of the lake.
Maximum depth of the lake is 32 feet. The best time to visit the Hussain Sagar Lake and Hyderabad is from October to March, as the weather is pleasing, unlike summers which are likely to get very hot and humid.
The lake is open to public on all days (except Mondays) and time.
If you need more information on Lakes In India you can read my second edition also.