Fun Facts You Did Not Know About Sukhna Lake


For us Chandigarhians, the Sukhna Lake is eternally engraved in our memories as a place of undying serenity enveloped in a blanket of pure fun. It’s our badge of honour for belonging to a city as beautiful as this one. It’s a mark of pride. It’s also our go-to picnic spot. More than anything, it’s our childhood wrapped in one long curving road. It’s the spot where artists, musicians, performers go to gain inspiration for their works. It’s also the spot where fishermen, hawkers, and daily wage workers earn their living. The tranquil beauty of the calm waters, the verdant foliage, and the sweet music of the birds hold many a secret that we’re unaware of. Here’s a look at some common facts about Sukhna Lake that you may have been unaware of.

A Man-made Lake of Epic Proportions
Did you know that this meeting point of lovers, birds, and foliage is no naturally occurring water body? The very man that we honour for giving us the most planned city in the country, the esteemed Le Corbusier, is also the one who envisioned and planned for the construction of our beloved Sukhna Lake. The Sukhna Choe was a light seasonal stream that flowed down from the Shivalik Hills every year. In 1958, Corbusier had a dam built around the Choe in order to create the Sukhna Lake. As of today, the lake expands over an area of 3 km2. It is found to be at a depth of 16 feet at the deepest point while the shallowest point remains 8 feet deep.

The Silt Problem
In the initial years of the lake’s construction, the Sukhna Choe would flow directly through the lake at seasonal intervals. This led to the formation of heavy silt deposits in and around the lake. As a remedy, Corbusier put 25.42 km2 of catchment area under vegetation to check the inflow of silt. In 1974, the Choe itself was redirected in such a manner that it avoided the lake entirely, so that the entry of silt into the lake is minimized. Due to siltation, the lake has today been reduced to 56% of its original volume. Every summer, throngs of Chandigarhians – old & young – flock to the lake to offer voluntary service, or shramdaan, in the desilting of the lake bed.

Landmark Year, 1988
The 80s witnessed widespread concern over the decline of the lake’s water levels and saw active involvement of Chandigarh residents in the restoration of the lake. In the summer of 1988, renowned satirist and actor Jaspal Bhatti landed up at the dry bed of the lake with his Nonsense Club members to play cricket. This symbolic act brought much needed attention to the Sukhna crisis.

Thus, in 1988, the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, officially proclaimed the Sukhna region as a land of high priority for conservation. It was subsequently recognised as a ‘National Wetland’ that required immediate attention. Soon after, the Shramdaan Programme was initiated. Chandigarh citizens proactively responded to Sukhna’s call to arms and the initiative turned out to be quite a success. Although the initiative has been carried out approximately every year since, the number of volunteers has drastically reduced, thus affecting the overall output of the cleaning drive.

Nature Trails in Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary
In March 1998, the forested catchment area behind the lake, at the foothills of the Shivalik range, was officially recognized as a protected wildlife sanctuary for preservation and conservation of the naturally occurring flora and fauna of the region. The large scale afforestation and soil conservation measures taken up after 1998 have resulted in a gradual regeneration of forest cover in the catchment area. The region has also witnessed a re-entry of flora and fauna into the preserved forest. The sanctuary is now home to the sambar deer, the barking deer, the nilgai, the chital, sloths, leopards, golden jackals, civets, mongoose, wild cats, and a large variety of avian fauna and reptiles, in addition to a wide variety of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, and climbers.

To promote ecotourism and to educate the masses about the rich floral and faunal heritage of the Sanctuary, the Department of Forests & Wildlife, Chandigarh Administration, has created ‘Nature Trails’ throughout the length and breadth of the sanctuary. These nature trails pass through the woods and water bodies and hill slopes, the gradient varying from gentle to steep.


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