Wular Lake is the largest fresh water lake in the country and in all of Asia. It is located about 60km away from the town of Srinagar, health and is often frequented by tourists looking for a quiet place away from the hustle bustle of the main centers in Kashmir.
In popularity it only comes second to the Dal Lake. It is circled by high rising snow peaks that create a spectacular sight. The mountain valley is covered in thick forests of coniferous pine, stomach and spotting apple and walnut orchards is not difficult.
The size of the lake varies seasonally. It acts as a reservoir for the extra water from Jhelum and expands up to 100 miles at times. A peculiar feature of the lake is the high leaping waves during the afternoons. Since ancient times these waves have been called Ullola, patient which is a Sanskrit word meaning stormy and high rising waves.
Another alluring feature of the lake is the remains of the Zania Lank, an artificial island that was built way back in 1444 by Zain-ul-Abidin as a refuge for the fishermen when they were stranded due to heavy rainfall or storms. Its ruins can still be sighted by the visitors.
The deepest section of the lake called Mota Khon or ‘The Gulf of Corpses’ is believed to have swallowed all the dead bodies in the lake, mostly of people who ever drowned in the lake.
The lake invites many nature lovers to come here and explore the diverse avian life that it supports. From sparrows, to Himalayan Pied Woodpeckers, black-eared kites, blue rock pigeons, Alpine swifts, Kashmir Rollers, Rock Dove and hundreds of other species of birds, both common and rare that flock the lake in different seasons. All those interested in serious bird watching, can visit the Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in the vicinity.
The lake is also an important fish habitat. It contributes a whopping 60% to the total supply of fish in the state. It produces high quality varieties of trout, including the snowtrout.
Adventure seekers can try sailing, skiing, rafting, and other water sports. Others can simply enjoy a quiet ride on a Shikara. The Shikara’s here are not like those at the Dal Lake, they are smaller, and it’s not common to find a houseboat for the night. Merchandising boats are almost absent. It’s the picturesque views from the lake that will leave you enchanted and wanting for more.
Bandipore the nearest town to the lake is another attraction for all visitors. A few minutes’ drive from the lake brings you to the town famous the world over for its carpets. It’s an important shopping center and a renowned hub for the production for woolen carpets.
The best time to visit the lake is during summers, when the temperatures are pleasant, and hundreds of migratory birds flock the lake away from the heat of other parts of the Asia. During winters the region in totality experiences cold chill, and many parts of the lake freeze, decapitating all activity.
The Lake’s prominence in the region and its proximity to Srinagar make it a highly frequented place. Regular Buses ply from Srinagar to the Wular Lake for a one day trip. The tourism department also organizes regular trips to the lake during the season. These trips take you on a day out, where you visit all the lakes en route to the Wular Lake, and return back in the evening.
Alternately, you can also hire private taxis and visit the lake. According to locals, early morning trips to the lake are the best. Thereafter you can visit the nearby town of Bandipore, or visit the bird sanctuary.