Prof. Dr. Prafulla Kumar Mohanty
Ansupa lake is so named as it is a part of the river, the Mahanadi. This lake is situated in Banki Block of Cuttack district under Athagarh Forest Division. Geographically, it is within 20.26’28.43″ to 28.28’34.44″ latitude and 85.35’56.74″ to 85.36’30.01″ longitude. It is exactly situated on the left bank of the river, the Mahanadi.
The length of Ansupa lake is approximately three kilometres and breadth varies from 250m to 500m embracing an area of about 328 acres. The total water spread area of this lake is 152 ha and catchment area 5231 ha. with seven micro-watersheds. Interestingly enough, the number of villages in catchment area is 28.
Ansupa lake comes within the territorial jurisdiction of Athagarh Forest Division. Apart from this original existence as lake, it is declared as “Wetland of national importance. The lake Ansupa is surrounded by two hills. One is Saranda hill on its western side and Bishnupur hill on its north-eastern side. Within these two hills, village namely Bishnupur, Subarnapur, Malbiharpur, Ghadabasa and Kabalibadi are situated.
Ansupa lake is connected with Mahanadi on its southern side with a channel called Kabula Nala (Kabula Channel) through which flood water of the river Mahanadi passes the lake. There is another Channel called Haluhula Nala (Haluhula Channel) to the south west of Ansupa which transverses through the borders of some villages KanthaPanhara and Ghadabasa. The geometry of this lake is as like as a horse shoe, for which it is popularly known as horse shoe lake of Odisha.
Ansupa lake is well connected and the approach from Cuttack and Bhubaneswar is very simple. The nearest airport Bhubaneswar is 70 km, nearest railway station in Cuttack which is 50 km and the nearest bus stop is Athagarh which is just 10 km to Ansupa. One can visit this lake throughout the year which is approachable in all seasons. The connecting route by bus or any two wheeler vehicles is excellent and scenic.
~ Ansupa lake and its mysterious history ~
Saranda hill or the area called Sarandagada is famous in the history because of the ruling of the king having a fort at Saranda hill top. It is believed that during Ganga dynasty, the king Subarnakeshari was overwhelmed with the natural beauty and panoramic view of Ansupa. Subsequently, the king established the village Subarnapur on the bank of the Ansupa lake and Saranda hill. According to the legend, one of the brothers of Dhala Dynasty of Banki had established his kingdom on the top of the Saranda hill which was popularly known as Sarandagada.
As per the history, the king of Saranda had married one of the daughters of nearby king of Tigiriagada, which is 15km away from Saranda. The king of Saranda preferred and had chosen this place to develop his fort for his safety and protection. There was an entrance gate constructed by stones connected with footsteps built on stones starting from Ansupa lake. The king had also built a house made up of stones for storing arms and ammunition which is known as magazine house (Baruda Ghara). This structure is still existing without any damage. The king had fixed a heavy metal door made up of bronze metal (cupper + tin) at the entrance of the fort which was producing an intense sound. This sound was indicating the king’s arrival and departure to his fort.
In addition to animal diversity, Ansupa lake is unique for its floral diversity. Submerged species and floating species of plants of this lake is spectacular. The sides of the lake are flooded with magnificent lilies of pink, red and white colours whose leaves cover the surface of the water. The total water spread area measures about 152 ha and the catchment area 5231 ha.
At present, the entrance gate of the fort, magazine house, a twin well at the top of the hill locally called Brother-Daughter-in Law well or Bhai-Bhou Kua) and another big well like hole made up of stone are still existing showing the King’s creation.
After independence in 1970, the Government of Odisha declared 160.93 ha of Saranda hill area as proposed “Reserved Forest”. After being declared as a reserved forest, the forest growth and development in this area is dense which is evidenced from the view taken from the watch tower of the hill. The entire horse shoe shaped area of Ansupa lake appears to be surrounded by greenery or large trees.
~ Ansupa lake and its future ~
As a single largest freshwater lake of Odisha, it has tremendous potential for study, observation, analysis and interpretation. The location, the architecture, design and development of this lake is so unique it may be called as the “Horse shoe lake of Odisha” or “Horse shoe lake of India”. Proper management care, attention and interest of the common people, tourists as well as the Government would certainly amplify the glory and importance of spectacular wetland.
The State government of Odisha has no doubt taken serious initiative in rejuvenating Ansupa lake to a great extent. This has been proved by the attendance of a good number of various cross section of people like visitors, scientists, ecologists, biologists and environmentalists. If the magnitude of the interest towards the lake is maintained, this lake would certainly occupy a key position not only in India tourist map but also in the map of the world.