The lost lakes of Bengaluru

India Water Portal is organising a short film contest for schools and colleges to document Bengaluru’s many tanks and lakes which have vanished.

“The Lost Lakes of Bangalore” is a project to document Bengaluru’s many tanks and lakes. The organisers are Arghyam, a non-profit foundation that works towards wise water management. They run the India Water Portal, an online resource base on all water issues in India. A special website  has been set up for the purpose of this contest and to mark World Water Day.

Entries must be submitted by March 15th as a CD with the movie in a standard file format, sent to
India Water Portal Lost Lakes Contest
599 12th Main Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar
Phone: 080-41698941/42

The contest is to create a short film (less than 10 minutes) that documents any ‘lost’ lake of Bangalore. The documentation can take the form of interviews with people, photo and video clipping of the state of the lake now coupled with any footage of the past state of the lake. The film should investigate the story of how the lake originally was, and the circumstances that resulted in the lake vanishing and the current state of the lake. You could pick any ‘lost lake’ in the city or you could also document an existing lake that is on the verge of extinction.

The contest has two categories Student (school and bachelor degree students) and General (all others).  Teams of upto five participants are permitted. Any number of teams can enter from a college.

The films must be made in either English or Kannada. If more than one language is used, subtitles should be provided so that the entire film can be understood in either one of the above languages.

The films will be uploaded in YouTube and hence a good digital camera with the ability to shoot movies will be good enough to use to make the film.

The entries will be judged based on:
1. How the film manages to capture the issue of the lost lake in an interesting way that captures the interest of the viewer.  While 10 minutes is the maximum time limit, contestants are encouraged to keep the film as short as is consistent with the subject matter and treatment.
2. The technical and aesthetic quality of the film
3. The film should comply with some format guidelines specified else may be disqualified.

The winning team at the college level and the winning team at the school level will each get a prize of Rs 15,000.

All entries that are found to meet a minimum level of quality will be awarded a prize of Rs 1,000 and a certificate of participation. The decision of the organisers regarding prize winning entries is final.

The organisers can provide some assistance in the form of help with video shooting or editing to teams that are enthusiastic but do not have the knowledge or facilities.

Entries must be submitted by March 15th as a CD with the movie in a standard file format, sent to
India Water Portal Lost Lakes Contest
599 12th Main Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar
Email: portal[at}arghyam[dot]org
Phone: 080-41698941/42

For regular updates join us on Facebook and Twitter. The films will all be uploaded onto YouTube as a permanent resource for people interested in Bangalore’s lakes.

Guidelines for creating movies in order to facilitate uploading the movie to the web:
• Use a standard format like: wmv, avi that can be uploaded on the web. You can upload a test sample to YouTube to make sure or call us for clarification.
• Video should primarily be in one language (English/Kannada) and subtitles in that language should be there if people are talking in some other language. For any person you interview in the movie, the name of the person should be given either in speaking or as a subtitle as a minimum identification. The video should focus on one lake primarily.
• Please follow the below format for the beginning and the end of the movie:
– First shot of the movie should say “Lost Lakes of Bangalore”
– Second shot should be the title of the film
– Third shot should mention your school and names of the members of the team
– At the end of the film after the credits there should be a screen saying “The Lost Lakes of Bangalore” is a project by India Water Portal to save memories of Bangalore’s lake history
– The last screen should say: “Visit and”

History of Bangalore’s lakes

Picture Courtesy: Constable’s 1893 Hand Atlas to India and Murray’s 1924 Handbook. (Click on the picture to enlarge)

The parchment to the left is a map of Bengaluru in 1924. The blue patches are some of the 262 lakes in Bengaluru. If you observe closely, the largest blue patch is not Ulsoor Lake (originally known as Halasuru) but the Koramangala Tank.

Where is this tank now? It sits under 5,000 apartments built at a cost of Rs 270 crore – the National Games Village in Koramangala. Of the original 262 lakes less than 34 lakes exist now.

In the 16th century, the chieftain of Yelahanka, Kempe Gowda I demarcated “Benda-kaal-ooru” (city of boiled beans) by establishing four towers at the corners of a square meant to signify the boundary of the city.

The city’s topography creates three valleys: Hebbal, Vrishabhavati and Koramangala-Challaghatta. The rainwater flowed down gently down these slopes and by damming the streams at the bottom of the valley, Kempe Gowda I is credited to have created more than 100 tanks in Bangalore. These tanks provided drinking water and irrigation to the paddy fields belonging to the early inhabitants of the region. To fishermen and dhobi-walas, the lake was a source of livelihood.

In the Mysore Gazetteer (1887), B Lewis Rice says “it (Ulsoor) appears to have been founded by Kempe Gowda under the following circumstances.” He goes on to reveal that Kempe Gowda II while hunting in the dense forest surrounding Ulsoor “laid himself to rest under the shade of a tree. He says while sleeping God Someshwara “appeared in a dream and revealed to him the existence of a hidden treasure and bid him herewith to erect a temple.” KG secured the treasure and built the temple, which stands to this day.

Bangalore then underwent a change of hands from the Vijaynagara Empire to Tippu Sultan to the British. In 1806 the British established a Civil and Military Station at Ulsoor (Cantonment). The first instance of pollution of the Ulsoor Lake was in 1883, after which public consumption of water from the lake was banned. In 2005, five tons of fish died due to mysterious reasons. Now the 123-acre lake is less than 90 acres.

Many such stories exist about Bangalore’s lakes. Over the years the lakes have been inexorably disappearing one-by-one, and along with the general knowledge that they even existed.

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