Sacred Grove Conservation, Revival & Lake restoration

Friends of Vrindavan (FoV) has taken the initiative to conserve and
regenerate the sacred groves around Mansarovar Lake. We planted
indigenous trees around the lake which used to be a rare wetland grove
and bird sanctuary, just few miles across the Yamuna in Vrindavan.
During the 90’s, the lake was surrounded with bushes that served as
habitat for a wide variety of migratory birds. It was a bird watcher’s
paradise, particularly those interested in aquatic species.
Once among the largest lakes in Braj sprawling an area greater than
five acres, Mansarovar was reduced to one third of its original size
by an artificially constructed boundary. With the changing times and
apathy of all the stakeholders, its water level and size shrunk to 60
per cent compared to what it was in the late nineties.
The lake was restricted with a stone pavement and boundary on all four
sides. During this exercise, the bushes, shrubs and a major portion of
the groves around it were also destroyed. This drove away birdlife,
who could no longer fish here, as the water became starved of oxygen.
Concerned about the deteriorating ecosystem, environmental NGO Friends
of Vrindavan, has once again decided to revive its natural beauty in
2020. FoV saved the lake from choking with the invasive Water
Hyacinth. Now, (after 20 years), we began the conservation of the
‘Sacred Grove’ so that birds and wildlife can return to their previous
haunts. We have also restored the lake which choked again with aquatic
weeds.
As a part of the initiative we initiated to plant native trees and
shrubs around the Lake.  We have already planted more than three
hundred traditional trees and preserved the holy trees in the grove.
Being one of the pilgrimage centers of Braj, Mansarovar is visited by
devotees who organize religious events followed by ‘bhandaras’ in the
vicinity of the Lake and Radharani Temple.
These events generate a huge amount of garbage which is left scattered
in the premises. Going further, FoV  has arranged  a proper garbage
disposal system so that the sanctity of this ‘Sacred Grove’ is
maintained.
We are currently investing in ways of securing the long-term
protection of the Lake and surrounding habitat so as to establish a
permanent sacred wildlife sanctuary.
The real visitors of Mansarovar are the birds. Crowds of Waterfowl and
Heron frequent the place. A special visitor is the Sarus Crane, an
endangered species which breeds only in Northern India. The Sarus is
the world’s tallest flying bird; a male can stand as tall as six feet
and is held in reverence in Braj.
Local tradition has it that the Lake, or ‘sarovar’, was formed from
the tears of Shri Radha, while she was in an intensely emotional state
of wounded love, ‘maan’. She came here alone fearing that she had lost
Krishna. The solitary image of her that is worshiped in a shrine
beside the lake helps devotees meditate on this most beautiful and
intense ‘Maan Lila’ of Radharani.

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