For most of the tourists visiting Mysore, the palace, Krishnaraja Sagara Dam, Chamundi Hills, the zoo, and Brindavan Gardens are the top attractions. Mysore is a place is ‘done and dusted’ by many in a matter of two days. Not for the husband and me, though. The obvious is never all there is to a place, for us, any place. We cannot ‘do’ any place, however small, in two days flat. We are explorers at heart, and were bent upon exploring ‘Mysore off the beaten track’, on our last holiday to the royal city. Well, we explored as much as we could with a little baby in tow! The beautiful, serene Karanji Lake is one place that charmed us the most in Mysore, our personal favourite spot from the holiday.
The story of Karanji Lake
Spread over about 90 hectares, Karanji Lake – locally called ‘Karanji Kere‘ – is one of the lesser known tourist hot-spots in the city of Mysore. Nestled at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, the lake was originally built by an erstwhile ruler of Mysore as a source of water to the city. At the time, the lake was a favourite with various migratory birds. However, as time passed, the lake fell into a state of disrepair, thanks to rapid urbanization, sewage water mixing in, and heavy water pollution. This began taking a toll on the resident and migratory birds at the lake.
Thankfully, good sense prevailed, and in 1995, the local government began undertaking steps for the restoration of this lake. The waters of the lake were cleansed, and the migratory slowly and gradually began finding their way back to them. Care was taken to rehabilitate some of the resident birds in a large aviary. The numerous plants and trees here were given a new lease of life. Karanji Lake began to be developed as a tourist destination.
Today, Karanji Lake is a lovely, well-maintained, clean and serene place where one can commune with nature and watch birds. Like I said earlier, the place charmed the socks off us. It was love at first sight between us and Karanji Lake, and as we walked deeper inside, this love only deepened. We ended up spending hours on end here, thoroughly enjoying every bit of it.
The aviary and the swoon-worthy peacocks
We absolutely adored the walk-through aviary at Karanji Lake. It is large and clean, the birds not enclosed in cages, but free and happy and content. The birds here are probably used to people walking around with them, and are not one bit scared or camera-shy. This was a unique experience for us – getting up, close and personal with some magnificent birds – something we haven’t ever done before, something all of us loved to the max.
I simply couldn’t get enough of the peacocks here! Swoon-worthy they are – see for yourself!
Karanji Lake is believed to house over 100 species of resident and migratory birds. We spotted quite a few of them in the aviary, looking quite at home.
The amazing Orchid Park
We had to literally tear ourselves away from the aviary to check out the other things that Karanji Lake has to offer. We were richly rewarded for this, via the Orchid Park. This section houses several stunningly beautiful varieties of orchids, which we had a lovely time ooh-ing and aah-ing over.
Simply wow, this section of Karanji Lake is!
The mesmerising Butterfly Park
Karanji Lake also houses a small Butterfly Park, where one can spot several varieties of the winged beauties. We spotted just one particular species, but the Butterfly Park managed to charm us with its prettiness and greenery all around.
We chose not to do the boating here but, instead, sit on one of the many stone benches here and gaze out at the calm waters. This filled us with a deep sense of peace. I am sure the boating here would have the same effect on one, too.
There is a small patch within the park that houses different species of cacti. Another interesting space this is!
The small kid’s play area here kept my daughter entertained for a while. The wide and clean paths of Karanji Lake are also ideal for walking and running around, both of which we enjoyed doing. Cycles are also available, for those who don’t wish to walk around.
Several species of flora and fauna can be spotted at Karanji Lake, and the top of the watch tower here is just the perfect spot to gaze over at all the gorgeousness the place holds within. The views from the top of the tower are stunning!
I think Karanji Lake has something to offer every kind of traveller there is, particularly so for the nature enthusiasts and bird-watchers. The next time you visit Mysore, don’t forget to include this place in your itinerary!
Tips for travellers
1. There is a nominal entry fee involved at Karanji Lake, INR 25 or so. Camera charges and boating charges need to be separately paid.
2. Karanji Lake is a strictly no-plastic zone. Please do follow the rules when you visit here.
3. A visit to the Karanji Lake can be clubbed with Chamundi Hills and Mysore Zoo.
4. Karanji Lake is closed on Tuesdays.