Taudaha Lake, located in Kathmandu Valley, is a serene haven that offers peace and natural beauty. It’s just an hour’s drive away from anywhere in the valley, providing a much-needed escape from the busy city life. This ancient lake holds historical significance and is known for its breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife. Join us on a journey to explore the wonders of Taudaha, where time seems to slow down and the soul finds solace.
According to local legends, Taudaha Lake gets its name from the Newari words ‘Ta‘, meaning snake, and ‘Daha‘, meaning lake. It is believed to be a remnant of the vast lake that once covered the area where Kathmandu city now stands. The mythology tells a story of a Bodhisattva(a person who has reached the highest level of enlightenment in Buddhism but delays it to help Earth) named Manjushree, who cut a hill in the southern part of the valley, allowing the water to drain off and create land for people to inhabit. As the lake dried up, the Nagas, or serpents, were left without a home. To appease Naga King Karkotak, the locals built an underwater palace filled with precious stones and riches. The Serpent King was pleased and ruled his serpent subjects in their underwater kingdom. Even today, locals refrain from swimming or fishing in the lake to maintain the tranquillity of the serpent king’s water abode.
Another story about the lake involves a Bhoto, a traditional Nepali garment. Legend has it that the wife of the Naga King was suffering from eye pain, and a Jyapu from Lalitpur came to her aid and cured her. In gratitude, the Naga King gifted the Bhoto, which was said to be made from a precious jewel called Naagmadi. One day, while the Jyapu was working in the field, someone stole the Bhoto and escaped. A fierce battle ensued between the Jyapu and the thief. Witnessing their struggle, Rato Machhindranath, a deity, intervened and ordered them to return with proof. Until then, the jewel-encrusted Bhoto remains with Rato Machhindranath. The Bhoto is shown in the Rato Machhindranath Procession every year, continuing this tradition.
Taudaha Lake is a paradise for nature lovers and photographers. Its rich biodiversity attracts a wide variety of bird species, including the bold black kite, black drongo, cattle egret, Oriental magpie robin, common myna, jungle crow, rose-ringed parakeet, white-throated kingfisher, and red-vented bulbul. During the summer, barn swallows and Indian cuckoos visit, while winter brings migratory birds such as the great cormorant, ruddy shelduck, northern shoveler, mallard duck, Gadwall, Eurasian coot, northern pintail, and common teal.
The lake is also home to various fish species, including the common carp, silver carp, grass carp, bighead carp, and colourful carp. Unfortunately, these non-native species have disrupted the ecosystem and are out-competing native fish like catfishes and snakeheads.
In addition to birds and fish, the area surrounding Taudaha Lake is inhabited by mammals such as the golden jackal, Indian grey mongoose, and several rodents. Reptile enthusiasts can spot the checkered keelback and oriental garden lizards nearby.
Taudaha Lake is one of the last remaining clean water bodies in the Kathmandu Valley, making it a crucial stopover for numerous migratory bird species. During the winter, the lake becomes a haven for hundreds of water birds. The diverse avian visitors come from different parts of the world, including India, Arab countries, Tibet, China, Russia, Siberia, and the Northern Himalayas. This makes Taudaha Lake a paradise for birdwatchers and photographers alike.
The beauty of Taudaha Lake lies not only in its natural surroundings but also in its fascinating legends and stories. Whether it’s the mythical connection to the Nagas and the underwater palace, or the tale of the stolen Bhoto and the annual process is a sense of wonder and mystique that adds to the allure of this serene lake.
For those seeking respite from bustling city life, Taudaha offers a peaceful retreat where one can immerse oneself in nature’s tranquillity. The lush landscapes, shimmering waters, and diverse wildlife create a captivating environment that rejuvenates the soul.
Whether you are a nature enthusiast, a bird lover, or someone seeking a quiet escape, Taudaha Lake is a destination that promises to enchant and inspire. Take a step back in time, connect with the rich cultural heritage, and discover the hidden treasures of ancient Taudaha.