Sunday 3 February 2013

You cannot walk to the other end of this lake built by a prostitute

This is one lake you would not wish to walk. And if you want to walk, you have to do so for miles and miles until your tire legs give way. In all probability, you will not make it to the other need o the lake.
This is so as this is the biggest lake or tank in Karnataka and one of the biggest in south India.  If you classify it as an irrigation tank, it is the second biggest in India. So imagine, how many miles you have to walk along its periphery to reach the other end
With a diameter of 45 kilometres, the lake is home to a variety of flora and fauna. Surrounded by hills and valleys, the lake presents a picturesque sight.
Built in the 12th century, the lake stands today, a symbol of  ancient skill in engineering and civil construction. Legend has it that the lake was built by a sule, a Kannada word for a prostitute.
The embarkment is as old as the lake itself. But for minor repairs, it has stood the test of time.
The lake has a water spread of over 6550 acres and its circumference is 30 kilometres. The total drainage basin is 81,483 acres and it irrigates more than 4,700 acres  (It is 10 miles in length and 7 miles in width).
Apart from this, the lake is the lifeline of more than 50 villages.
This is the Sule Kere, also called Shantisagar in Davangere district. It also supplies drinking water to Chitradurga and some villages.  
The huge tank is constructed by constructing an embarkment between two hills. The embarkment has a length of 950 feet but its width is stupendous-120 feet. Perhaps it is this strength that has led the tank to withstand floods and heavy rains.
The tanks receives rain from a 20-square kilometer area and all the waters drain into the Harida, a tributary of the Tungabhadra, which then empties itself into the tanks.  
The main road connecting Channagiri with Davangere passes over the embarkment.   
It has two sluice gates called Sidda, which is in the north and Basava which is located in the south. Though the sluice gates are damaged, it has not affected the embarkment, claim the locals.
This despite water overflowing in 1992  and again 17 years later in 2009. This 2009 flooding caused a lot of damage and the  backwaters submerged nearly 3,500 acres in the nearby villages.
There is an interesting story behind the name of the tank.
There was a King of a nearby province called Vikrama Raya. He was married to Nutana Devi. As they were childless, they adopted Ragi Raya, the son of a Gowda of Bilahalli. Some years later, a daughter, Shanti, was born to the King.
Shanti built the present tank as an act of thanksgiving to Shiva. Her mother Nutana Devi helped her in the construction. However, when the structure was completed, the waters submerged the town of Swargavathi. Enraged over the carelessness of his daughter and appalled by the loss of lives and property, the King cursed Shanti to become a prostitute or Sule.
The tanks has been the subject of several scientific and geological studies. In one such study in 1856, Lt. General Richard Hieram Sankey, Chief Engineer of  the then Mysore state, opined that the region surrounding Sule Kere was not ideal for the construction of a tank. Yet, a tank was built and it is a great tribute to the engineering skill, he said.
This artificial lake  is 40 kilometres from Davanagere and 20 km from Channagiri.  The Tourism department has constructed a view point, park and picnic spot on one side of this lake which is 4 kilometres from the Sule kere bus stop. Bangalore is 265 kms away.

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