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Jal Mahal


Jal Mahal At Jaipur India


  • Jal means water and Mahal means palace. Jal Mahal means Water Palace. It is situated in the centre of the Man Sagar Lake in the capital of the state of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India. Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amber enlarged and renovated the palace and the lake around it in the 18th century. The most significant change carried out in the lake itself. The neighbouring wetlands regenerated and 5 nesting islands formed to lure migratory birds, local fish and vegetation reintroduced, a water treatment system was established, two million tons of toxic silt was taken out from the bottom to increase its depth by more than a metre and the course of the drains was changed. Traditional boat-makers have made the Rajput style wooden boats. You can reach Jal Mahal by boat. After passing through decorated chambers and hallways on the 1st floor you arrive at the fragrant Chameli Bagh. You can see the Aravalli hills, dotted with ancient forts and temples across the lake and busy Jaipur on the other side.

Topography

  • The lake is located between Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan state and Amer, the historic city. Its water is spread over an area of 300 acres and is surrounded by the Aravalli hills on the west, north and eastern sides, while plains which are densely populated are on the southern side. In addition to a lovely view of Jaipur, there’s the Nahargarh Fort in the hills which provides an impressive view of the Jal Mahal palace and the Man Sagar Lake. The lake was created in the 16th century by building a dam between the hilly areas of Nahargarh and Khilagarh hills, across the Darbhawati River. An average rain fall of 657.4 millimetres per year in the catchment provides storage in the reservoir. There is an irrigation system at the outlet end of the dam which supplies stored water during the 5 months from November to March.

Geology and soils

  • To the north east of Jaipur, the hills near the lake area have quartzite rock formations. In some parts of the project area, rock exposures on the surface have been used for constructing buildings. The hills slope gradually towards the lake edge from the north east. The ground area consists of alluvium, blown sand and thick mantle of soil within the lake area. Forest denudation has caused soil erosion. Because of this, silt built up in the lake causing rise in the bed level of the lake.

History

  • In the past, there was a natural depression at the site of the lake, where water was stored. There was a severe famine during 1596 in this area which caused acute shortage of water. Therefore the ruler of Amer at that time built a dam to store water in order to surmount the severe hardships faced by the people of the region. Originally a dam was built, across the eastern valley between Amagarh hills and Amer hills and using quartzite and earth. In the 17th century, the dam was transformed into a stone masonry structure. The existing dam is roughly 28.5–34.5 metres wide and 300 metres long. It has 3 sluice gates to release water for agricultural land in the downstream area. The palace, the lake and the dam have undergone several restorations under various rulers of Rajasthan. In the 18th century, the final restoration was carried out by Jai Singh II of Amer. During this period, several other religious and historical places, such as the Kanak Vrindavan Valley, Khilangarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Amer Fort were also constructed in the surrounding area. All these places are linked by a network of roads.

Man Sagar Lake

Status of water quality

  • Recently ecological system of the lake and its surrounding areas worsened significantly due to the urbanisation of Jaipur city and lake’s surrounding areas. It has become heavily silted resulting in reduction of the surface area of the lake. The silt deposited has been polluted with effluents from drainage system of the city resulting in intense eutrophication. The underground water surrounding the lake has also become highly polluted and is the cause of serious health risks. The sewage water combined with rainwater flow from the city causing the lake water to give off a foul smell. Tests were carried out on samples of water from the lake and were found to show that the water quality wasn’t uniform. It was awfully poor in southwest, south and southeast due to the influent nalas (streams). The water quality parameters of BOD and total nitrogen recorded were 20 mg/L each. BOD values point out higher levels of organic matter. COD indicated an extremely high level of oxidisable materials. Phosphate and nitrate contents were excessive. Coliform count was over 500 times the norm. The Chloride content was fatal to fish and plants.

Hydrology

  • During the rainy months of July to September, the fresh water draining into the lake is seasonal. This flow starts from 325 large as well as small streams which drain from the hilly catchment of the lake. The 2 municipal nalas (streams) from Jaipur city provide a constant flow to the lake. The lake contains 3,130,000 cubic metres of water at the maximum level. During the dry season, the volume of water decreases to about 360,000 cubic metres. The maximum depth of water in the lake is 15 feet and minimum depth of water in the lake is 4.9 feet. During the summer months the stored water is also used for irrigation resulting in a drying up of the lake.


Flora and fauna

  • To the north east of Jaipur, the hills surrounding the lake, have quartzite rock formations. From the north east, the hills slope gradually towards the edge of the lake. The lake area consists of alluvium, blown sand and a thick mantle of soil. Forest denudation has resulted in soil erosion. Because of this, silt built up and raised the bed level of the lake. The total forest area of 9.01 square kilometres consists of encroachment of 1.61 square kilometres, degraded forest of 0.95 square kilometres and dense forest cover of 6.45 square kilometres. The main floral specie in the area is Dhauk (Anogeissus pendula). Considerable erosion has been caused by steep gradient of the hills and the low vegetation cover causing the eroded material to flow into the lake.
  • The reserve forest area has a number of wild life species such as Leopards, Indian wild Boar, Indian Fox, Jungle cat and Deer.
  • In the past, the lake was a bird watcher's paradise and was a preferred ground for royal duck shooting parties for the Rajput kings of Jaipur. The lake was a natural habitat for over 150 species of migratory and local birds which included Grey Wagtail, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Herring Gull, Ruff, Marsh Sandpiper, Redshank, Coot, Kestrel, Pintail, Great Crested Grebe and Large Flamingo however, their numbers reduced due to the deterioration of the lake. Now, after restoration, the birds have begun visiting the lake again. The other birds now are Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, white-browed wagtail and the grey heron. There were also species of the aquatic ecosystem like microorganisms, insects and fish.