Claimed to be the largest freshwater lake in India, the Wular lake can spread over nearly 200-sq-kms but its actual surface area tends to vary during the year. The Jhelum River flows into the lake, 40-km downstream from Srinagar, and then out again.

The lake, calm though it may appear, is noted for the fierce winds that sometimes blow up. The deepest part of the lake is known as Mota Khon, the ‘Gulf of corpses’, since the bodies of people drowned in the lake were all supposed to be washed to this place. At one time there was an artificial island on the lake, where boatmen could shelter if the weather turned bad, but silting on that side of the lake has joined the island to the lakeside. It’s now a popular picnic spot.

Houseboats, Doongas and sailing boats can be hired on the lake. The three main mooring places are at Ningal Nullah, Kiuhnus Bay and at Ajus Spur on the south east side. Around the lake there are various canals, which lead through the silt at the river mouths up into the rivers themselves. One of the best is to the Erin valley, which starts from Nodhal and winds 6½-km up to two high altitude lakes.

Buses leave the tourist reception centre in Srinagar in the morning for a day trip around Wular Lake and back. The bus first stops at Anchar Lake, then on to Safapur, to stop at Manasbal Lake, thence to Bandipur, 56-km away. This is followed by lunch at Watlab where there is a government rest house, and a tour of the mosque of Baba Sakar-ud-Din, then on to Sopur. The lake can be reached by river as well as road.

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