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Lake and Environ


Mysore city has three healthy and surviving water bodies-Kukkarahalli, Karanji & Lingambudhi, supporting moderate bio-diversity. Among them, Lingambudhi stands first in terms of richness entirely due to its location bordering growing city.  

Lingambudhi lake is a perennial freshwater lake situated in the basin of River Cauvery. Since its construction in 1828 until the late 1980s, Lingambudhi lake was a typical village lake in the rural surroundings of the city of Mysore. The lake was serving as a source of drinking water, irrigation, and fish produce; as a site for washing clothes and cattle; and as a place of religious worship for the people of Lingambudhi Palya, a village in the vicinity of the lake. 

A notification from the DCs office dated 28th of August 2003, in response to the Forest Department’s proposal of 2001, had finally declared the Lingambudhi lake and its environs as a protected forest area and had transferred the ownership to the Forest Department.  This was one of the significant milestones in the history of Lingambudhi lake which now enjoyed the status of a protected forest. (Manjunath Sadashiva, 2007)


One and half decade back Lingambudhi Lake was in the outskirts of Mysore City, but now it is engulfed on all the sides by the extending city dwellings. The lake is geographically located at 12º 16’ 20” N and 76º 31’E to the southwest of Mysore city at an altitude of 730m above mean sea level. From the city center, the lake is situated at a distance of 7 km. 

Fig: Last patches of Pandanus groove

Historical records document that Lingambudhi lake was excavated in 1828 A.D. by Lingajammani, a queen of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore as part of building the Mahalingeshwara temple and as an act of thanks-giving to the local female deity Shri Chamundeshwari. It has a catchment area of    45 Sq Km. The lake was well outside the city limits when first census (1988) was conducted, but now (2011) is swallowed up on all the sides. During the years of study number of brick manufacturing units that were present have come down to nil from twenty.  Lake fringe that was without trees coverage in the beginning of the observation has grown into a thicket by 1997-98 courtesy State forest departments’ social forestry scheme and began thinning by 2002-03 due to firewood collection and natural death of fast growing trees that were planted. Forest department officially declared the lake spread over 217 acres, as Lingambudhi Bird Sanctuary in 2001.

 Tropical dry deciduous, secondary scrub and semi arid grass land is the habitat covering the area followed by irrigated fields during good rainy season.  Pongamia pinnata, Acacia spp, Mangifera indica,  Syzygium cumini, Ziziphus spp  are some that are in abundance here. Downstream of water flow as well part of shoreline is covered by Typha, Scripus, Pandanus and Pheonix spp.

Fig: Congregation of migratory ducks

Lake fringes that was without trees coverage (1988) when earlier studies begun by  individual birders and NGOs. Lakes surroundings grown into a thicket by 1997-98, courtesy State forest departments’ social forestry scheme. Reduction in tree density was observed during 2002-03

 due to ageing process and firewood collection.  But, forestation thereafter in open grassland and shore line resulted in reducing terrestrial and wader’s habitat. 

There was an attempt to hand over the place to Mysore Zoo for conservation. Lake was once considered as the flying highway of winter migratory birds. Variety of migratory birds used to arrive and congregate (22,000 in year 1995) in September third week and then gets spread out.  Again, just before summer, march- April, spread out birds starts arriving from different direction,  assemble and fly back towards northen direction to their breeding ground. Water birds involved in congregating were - Garganey, Shoveller, Common Teal, Pintail,  Common Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, like. Gull billed Tern, Black bellied Tern, Black headed Gull, Brown headed Gull, European  Roller, Pallas Grass hopper Warbler, Eurasian Curlew, Terek Sandpiper, Curlew sandpiper, Pied Avocet, Thick-billed Green Pigeon (escapee?), Verditer Flycatcher, Tickell’s Green Leaf Warbler, Red-necked Phalarope are some of the rare birds observed over a decade and half.

Fig: Rare migratory Arboreal bird Verditer Flycatcher-CS Kulashekara

Breeding activity of Pelicans, Spoon bills, Ibises, Grey Herons and Cormorants were recorded here for two consecutive years, 2000 and 2001.  Episode of birds’ death too has been observed here.

Altering the sanctuary entirely to cater the need of human beings has threatened the healthy habitat of migratory birds.  In next move, only two species of seedling; Pongamia pinnata and a variety of Bamboo was introduced in entire sanctuary (monoculture).  Within next five years  entire area wore green look  attracting few new arboreal birds but at the cost of water birds (both migratory and local)  and existing plant  species.

North-western part of the lake bed is dominant of only two species of Sesbania sesban and Acacia suma. In last few months, variety of plant species have been introduced. But, already encroached shoreline has driven away the waders. 

Lake got completely filled once in last one decade. Twice, there were reports of fish and birds death. Meanwhile, the lake has been designated as important bird area (IN-KA-22) by Islam et al (2005) for the priority of conservation. Lake bed used to host very rare migratory birds during winter that are unusually seen in inland. This lake is considered as one of the flyway route adopted by the migratory birds from Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The lake environ is the only known regular breeding site of the Indian Spotted Eagle Aquila hastate. The Spot-billed Pelicans Pelecanus philippensis large congregation was observed during 13.3.1999 to 6.4.1999 (maximum 400 nos on 28.3.1999) and 28.3.2002 to 6.5.2002 (maximum 522 nos. on 13.4.2002).  Though numerous lakes are found in Mysore area, Pelicans and Darters chose only few selective ones for foraging.  

Era of Digital photography resulted in finding a few rare migrants and local birds’ proper identification and authentication that made the check list more elaborative. It was the Lake’s location as a habitat accommodating many listed residents and migratory birds had influenced the Outer Ring Road realignment decision in order to protect the Lake. 

Fig: Indian Pitta arrived back after a long gap                                Fig: Contaminated water attracts numerous migratory                 

                                                                                                                                 Black winged stilts

Variation in bird density & diversity with altering habitat 

The bird data for the period 2000 to 2010 is in declining trend, both in population as well as in species occurrence. Totally 213    species of birds are recorded during January, 2000 – January, 2010 – a span of a decade is listed in Annexure-I. These birds are categorized for comparison purpose as follows;

Category of Birds

Reasons for categorizing

No. of species


Resident species

Breeding, foraging and roosting for a minimum of four years


Result reveals 09 species are absent;
13 species population reduction;
15 resident species  become visitors;
2 species population increased.
Balance 52 species are maintaining status quo.

Local species

Only foraging


Result reveals 5 species are absent;
8 species population reduction.
Balance 24 species are maintaining status quo.

Rare Local species

Species recorded less than three times


These are not considered for variation study.

Regular Migratory species

Winter migrants that are regular every year


Result reveals 6 species are absent;

18 species population reduction;
1 species population increased.
Balance 17 species are maintaining status quo.

Rare Migratory species

Winter migrants observed less than three times


These are not considered for variation study.

New regular migratory species

Observed arriving only in the last 3 season regularly, might continue to arrive


Solitary birds have been sighted regularly;
hence, mentioning here


Not supposed to be present in entirely different habitat


Thick billed Green Pigeon, a Himalayan habitué, may be an escapee from one of many Tibetian colonies around Mysore. It is not considered for variation study.





Totally 172 species are considered for change in the occurrence and population study out of recorded 213 species, excluding the 41 species (Local and Migratory) recorded less than three times.  Changes of 79 species, 46% of 172 common birds consisting of resident, local and regular migratory are conspicuous. Lingambudhi Lake environment undergone man made changes in habitat structure and food abundance, influencing the density and diversity.  

 Probable reasons for declined bird status: 

The current environmental condition assessment of the Lake and its environs based on field observations, discloses that the Lake continue to be constrained by following problems (Manjunath Sadashiva, 2007).  

  • Decreased freshwater inflow
  • Sewage inflow and Eutrophication
  • Absence of proper fencing  
  • Dumping of building debris and garbage 
  • Unscientific forestation 
  • Fishing activity 
  • Increased human activity: The action plans and proposals for conservation of the Lingambudhi Lake wanted to attract the public to the Lake by means of recreation facility and involve them in the long term conservation activities. Hence, many facilities such as a jogging track, paragolas, and stone benches have been created. The number of people visiting the Lake walks, jogging or relaxing has increased drastically over the last few years. As there is no clear demarcation between the protected terrestrial /water area and the recreational areas, the visitors have been observed to stray into areas close to the shoreline or the water spread area. Activity likes playing football, cricketing, parties, cycling and biking are being held in the shoreline, thus causing disturbance to water birds as well as grassland birds. 

 Fig: Chestnut streaked Sailer 

       Fig: Pair of Indian Spotted Eagle -kishendas                               


Study over a period of a decade has resulted in observation of 107 species representing all the five families. Occasionally rare butterfly like -Chestnut streaked Sailer (photo), Gaudy Baron and Peacock Royal have been recorded. Abundance, seasonal variation and encounter frequency have been depicted below. 

On a single day 54 species of Butterflies were recorded  in 2001. Vegetation, mainly supporting butterfly population like Cadaba spp, Critalaria spp, Cassis spp, and variety of grasses was abundant at that time.  Distortion and distraction caused while laying huge sewage lines and clearing undergrowth to facilitate public utility has led to diminishing of species. Being part of Mysore area, Lingambudhi also experiences, pre & post monsoon danaids butterfly migration (located in the plains between eastern and western ghat, where migration is documented). Thicket that provides incessant shade throughout the day provides shelter to these migratory butterflies roosting.


Behavior of water birds on earthquake observed in Lingambudhi lake

Observers: S Tejaswi, AA Chinmayii & asp

On January 26, 2001, we were on a regular visit to Lingambudhi Lake, Mysore  where abundant waders and ducks are found.  At around 08-45 hrs, we were observing Ruff’s activity. Spot-billed Ducks, Garganeys, Blackwinged Stilts, Little Stints, Common Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, Marsh Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers were active along with Ruff. Suddenly all ducks and waders got disturbed, flew off from water surface making disturbing call as if some bird of prey has attacked and landed back after a minute. Checked for bird of prey and found none. Earlier there were unsuccessful attempts by Marsh Harrier (female) and Brahminy Kite. The breeding Cormorants, Darters, Spoonbills and Pelicans that were on trees were busy in their activity as usual.  We could not find any reason for waders and ducks sudden disturbance. 

We came to know the occurrence of Earthquake that jolted Gujarat state mainly, after returning from Lake.   Mysore City had also experienced a tremor as reported by the Meteorological Department. Thus, we presumed disturbance of birds due to tremor. When water recedes to a lowest level, fishes and birds get disturbed due to dynamites explosion that occurs at far off places is common. Even though audible feebly, the explosions tremor passes vibration to Lake water causing fishes to emerge on to water surface and disturbing birds to fly away. Here is a case how the earthquake tremor is experienced by the birds on the water. 


The road connects the residential areas on the south eastern side with the village of Lingambudhi Palya situated on the south western side of the lake. From this vantage point ducks on tank, arboreal birds and warblers could be viewed on either side of the bund. Recently laid new walkways all-round the lake, opened up the secondary scrub and forest for nature watchers and are most suitable for watching arboreal and water birds; and butterflies. Entry is restricted: 06.00 – 09.30 am & 04.30 -06.30 pm, 

References & additional reading: 

•  Islam, M.Z. & A.R. Rahmani. 2005. Important Bird Areas in India: Priority sites for conservation. Mumbai: Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and BirdLife International (UK). P 574 

Kulashekara, C.S; 

Kulashekara, C.S; 

Kulashekara, C.S;

Kulashekara, C.S; 

Manakadan, R., & Pittie, A. 2001. Standardized common and scientific names of the birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Buceros 6(1): i-ix, 1-38

Manjunath Sadashiva, 2007. Effect of Civil society on Urban planning and governance in Mysore, Indian, A dissertation submitted to the faculty of spatial planning, Technical University of Dortmund 185-235

Praveen,J,   2007. In the news, Indian Birds 3(4):158

Sashikumar C,  2004. Aquila eagles in Kerala, India, Newsletter for Ornithologists 1(4): 53

Shivaprakash A, 2005. An overview of the Indian Spotted Eagle in Lingambudhi Lake (IBA site), Mistnet  6( 2):10 – 11

Shivaprakash A, 2001.Roositng Birds of Mysore city, Newsletter for Birdwatchers: 41(2):22-23

Shivaprakash A, 2002. Unusual behaviour of Purple sunbird Nectarinia asiatica, JBNHS: 99(3): 535

Thejaswai S,  2002. A Crake chapter, Newsletter for Birdwatchers 42(5):106-108

Thejaswi S and Shivaprakash A, 2004. Observations on the Rusty -rumped Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola (Pallas) at Mysore, Karnataka, JBNHS101(3) 461

Thejaswi S and Shivaprakash A, 2004. Eastern Calandra-lark Melanocorypha bimaculata in Mysore, Karnataka: a new record for southern India,  JBNHS 101(3): 455

Thejaswi S and Shivaprakash A, 2004. Status of the Great Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga pallas in the wetlands of the Kaveri Basin of Karnataka, JBNHS 101(3): 447

Thejaswi S and Shivaprakash A, 2004. The Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca near Mysore, Karnataka, JBNHS 101(3): 447

Thejaswi S, 2004. Black Tern Chlidonias niger (Linn.) in Mysore, Karnataka: First record from inland southern India, JBNHS 101(3): 454

Thejaswi, S., Shivaprakash, A. & Kumar, M. 2000. Tickell's Thrush and European Roller at. Mysore. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 40 (2) 

Thejaswi S, Shivaprakash A & Shivanandappa T, 2000. Migratory Birds at Lingambudhi Lake in Mysore, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 40(1): 7-9