In Meghalaya, there are several kinds of lakes. All have their own distinctive characteristics and origins.
Lakes add beauty and attraction to the surrounding landscape. In the mountains of Meghalaya, there are several beautiful lakes that add a lot of charm to their respective locations.
Characteristics of the different types of lakes in Meghalaya:
Lakes in Meghalaya are a source of hydroelectricity, irrigation and water supply to people living around the lake. Some lakes have become popular tourist spots because of their scenic beauty.
Meghalaya is a hilly region with about 40% of its land covered with forests. The Khasi Hills are forested to their summits, except for some sparsely populated areas. Grand forests are located in the Garo Hills and hilly areas of the Jaintia - Khasi region.
The lakes in Meghalaya are the most important and the most useful of its natural endowments. They bring a lot of value to the people of Meghalaya, both directly or indirectly.
Lake - a body of inland water that is surrounded by land on all sides and is larger than a pond but smaller than a lake.
1) Natural Lakes are formed by nature itself and exist without human interference. They are well-known for their clear water and a rich supply of aquatic life.
2) Artificial Lakes are man-made ones formed by artificial means such as dams to store water from rivers for irrigation purposes. One example is the Umiam Lake in Shillong, which was formed by building a dam on the Umiam River. It is also known as Barapani Lake.
3) Reservoir Lakes are created by building a dam across a river. These lakes are very important for the generation of hydroelectricity, hence they are also called "power reservoirs". One example includes the Nokrek Lake in Garo hills, which is a reservoir created by building a dam across the river Simsang.
4) Tank Lakes are man-made reservoirs that store rainwater as a water source for dry months. One example is the lake at Mawsynram in East Khasi Hills that supplies the village with fresh water even during prolonged droughts.
5) Swamp or Marsh Lakes Swamp and marsh lakes are usually formed by the overflow of rivers during monsoons, which results in a lot of shallow water throughout the year.
Where are they found?
In Meghalaya, there are several kinds of lakes. All have their own distinctive characteristics and are located all over the state. The main types of lakes are listed below:
Lakes in East Meghalaya
The Jadukata lakes are found in Garo hills. Some of the most notable ones include the Nokrek lake, which is an artificial reservoir used for hydroelectric purposes. The Nokrek lake is surrounded by the villages of Rongara, Suilmani and Nokrek. Another notable lake in Garo hills is the Dalu lake at Siju village in West Garo Hills District, which is a very popular picnic spot among tourists visiting Meghalaya.
Lakes in Jaintia hills
The Umiam Lake, better known as Barapani lake is located in Shillong. It was formed by building a dam on the river Umiam to store water for hydroelectric power generation. The lake is surrounded by natural greenery and has historical significance because of an abundance of flora and fauna, which are now protected by law.
Thadlaskein Lake is situated in the Jaintia hills and is a very popular tourist location. It has drawn visitors from all over the country since colonial times.
Lakes in West Meghalaya
The Nongkrem lake is located in the Ri-Bhoi District of West Meghalaya, surrounded by rocky hills. The lake has an artificial dam that supplies water for agricultural irrigation purposes. Another notable one is the Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating lake in the world which is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Meghalaya.
Lakes in South Meghalaya
One notable artificial reservoir located in South East Meghalaya is the Nongkhyllem reservoir near Jowai town which provides water for irrigation purposes to nearby villages.
Lakes in South West Meghalaya
The Nongkhyllem lake located at Jowai is fed by the river Kynshi and is used as a source of freshwater for nearby villages and small towns in the area.
Lakes in Shillong
The popular Shillong lake in Meghalaya is a landmark of the city and is surrounded by lush greenery. The lake has religious importance, as it is used for special occasions such as traditional boat races to celebrate the "Shillong festival".
Wards Lake in Shillong is a natural lake surrounded by vegetation and is popular with picnickers and other visitors to the city.
Lakes in West Khasi Hills
Lake Mowbok is the biggest lake in Southeast Asia, situated at Mawphlang, West Khasi hills. It has a circumference of almost 90 kilometres and is famous for its floating islands.
Lakes in South East Meghalaya
Lake Umiam is one of the most famous artificial lakes in India and North-east Asia. It was created by building a dam on the river Kynshi at Nongkhyllem 30 kilometres from Shillong. It is a major source of water for the city, and some notable surrounding attractions include Nohsngithiang Falls, Siju Cave, Umtangi Lake, etc.
Lakes in North Meghalaya
There are several lakes that cover an entire valley in North Meghalaya. An example of this is Narpuh Lake, which covers an area of 12 square kilometres and is surrounded by natural greenery.
Lakes in East Khasi Hills
Miri-Khas lakes found in the East Khasi Hills District are considered to be a natural treasure. Here, one can find ponds and lakes such as Pynursla lake, which is well known for its beauty and serenity. Along with other nearby attractions like Nongkrem Village and Myntdu River, the area is very popular among tourists.
Lengthenwai lake is a freshwater lake in East Khasi hills, which is very popular for water sports. There have been measures to preserve the natural surroundings of this lake as it has been noted that due to years of neglect, nearby forests had started disappearing.
Lakes in East Jaintia Hills
Laingang lake at Bajna village in East Jaintia Hills is used for water sports by swimming enthusiasts in the area. It is one of the most famous lakes in Meghalaya, and people can enjoy boating in rented boats.
Lakes in West Jaintia Hills
The Narpuh lake located in West Jaintia hills has historical significance because it covers an entire valley with many different types of flora and fauna.
Lakes in Ri-Bhoi district
East Narpuh Lake is also located in West Jaintia hills, at an altitude of 4500 ft above sea level. The lake has diversified flora and fauna due to its geographical location, surrounded by green mountains and valleys.
Lakes in Khasi-Jaintia Hills
The most notable lake in Khasi-Jaintia hills is the Likthadlliew Lake, which is surrounded by thick forests and green meadows. It covers an area of around 5 square kilometres at a place called Mawsmai in Nongstoin.
The Mawphlang Sacred Lake
The lake is located at Mawphlang and is considered to be one of the holiest lakes in Meghalaya, visited by pilgrims for religious purposes.
Other notable lakes in Meghalaya include the Umkhrul lake near the Assam border, Jalangi Lake near Tura, Jinjiram lake near Mawhati, Nongpoh lake near Nongstoin and several others.
Other than these, there are several other small lakes around the state.
The formation of most of Meghalaya's lakes is due to limestone deposits in the region. The groundwater level also plays an important role in the formation of some specific types of lakes that exist in Meghalaya.
What does the future hold for lakes in Meghalaya?
Though many of these lakes bear a very scenic view, most of them are man-made and their main purpose is to provide water for irrigation and hydroelectricity. Though this makes the process of formation simple and inexpensive, it also causes damages such as flooding if not properly maintained. Some natural lakes that exist in Meghalaya are in areas that are near the border with Bangladesh. This threatens the state's coastal regions with flooding, especially during monsoons when the dams receive excessive rainfall causing them to overflow into Meghalaya or its surrounding states.
Why should you visit these lakes in Meghalaya?
While some lakes are considered holy, most of them serve as important sources of water as well as natural scenic vistas. Some lakes also serve as tourist attractions and offer boating and few water sports, so if you wish to see them for yourself, you should visit Meghalaya!