Maharana Pratap Sagar
Maharana Pratap Sagar. 450 m above sea level.
Maharana Pratap Sagar is 32 degrees North and 76 degrees East. In District Kangra. 170 km from Chandigarh, 110 km from Amritsar, 55 km from the district headquarters at Dharamshala. The closest railway stations are at Mukerian-30 km, and Pathankot-32 km. The settlements of Nagrota Surian and Jawali-which are located on the Sagar’s periphery-are connected by the charming narrow gauge Kangra Railway Line that connects Pathankot to Jogindernagar. The closest airport is at Gaggal-40 km. the lake is well served by a network of roads.
Named in honour of the great patriot Maharana Pratap, the Maharana pratap sagar was once known as the Pong Dam Reservoir. India knows the Maharana Pratap Sagar was once known as the Pong Dam Reservoir. India knows the Maharana as a man who struggled valiantly for his kingdom of Mewar-as for the principle of independence. In the words of the chroniclers James Tod and William Crooke,”Hespurned every overture that had submission for its basis”. Over the river Beas, the ‘Pong Dam’ was completed in 1976. Its reservoir has an area of about 45,000 hectares at maximum possible flooding-the level varies with every season and overages around 30,000 hectares. Over 200 villages with a population of over 85,000 people lie along the wetland.
In 1983, the Sagar was declared a wildlife sanctuary and over 220 species of birds belonging to 54 families have been sighted over the waters and the fringing mud-banks-these include black-headed gulls, plovers, terns, ducks, water-fowl and egrets. The first sighting in the region of the red-necked grebe was made at the Sagar. The wetland’s location at the head of the Indian plains has made it a suitable habitat and stopover for migratory birds that enter India from central Asia.
The land portion of the sanctuary has barking deer, sambar, wild boars, nilgai, leopards and claw-less otters.
Twenty-seven species and sub-species of fish belonging to six families have been recorded in the Sagar’s waters. Some of the important commercial varieties are-Labeo dero, Labeo rohita, Labeo calbasu, Tor Putitora and Mystus seenghala. Since 1976, fishing has been a major economic activity in the area and today, this provides employment to some 1,500 fishermen and the annual catch is valued at over a crore rupees.
There is a branch of the Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports at the Sagar and year-round activities include swimming, water-skilling, surfing, kayaking, rowing, canoeing and sailing. The Directorate of Tourism and Civil Aviation provides equipment at Sagar this includes sail boats, paddle boats, speed aero boats, life buoys, water scooters, speed boats, rafts, life jackets, water skis and wet suits. Various courses-beginners, intermediate and advanced-are also conducted at the Sagar.
The sagar is close to several places of Hindu pilgrimage-Jawalamukhi, Chamunda Devi, Chintpurni, Brajeshwari Devi, Mahakalesar, Bagolamata and Naina Devi. The seat of his holiness the Dalai Lama at Mcleodganj and the Namgyal monastery are a short drive away. The other Buddhist monasteries at hand are Tashijong and Bir-Billing.
The Kangra area is rearded as amongst the best in this part of the world for Paragliding. There are many sites of architectural importance, old forts and palaces that are close to the Sagar. For example, the forts of Kangra, Mangarh, Tira(Sujanpur) and the monolithic temple of Masrur.
This area was the cradle of the Kangra school of miniature painting. Near the Sagar is Haripur-Guler which was a major centre of the art. There are rare exhibits at the Kangra Art Gallery at Dharamsala.
The area has several trek routes for which the sagar can act as the base camp.