Capturing the lakes, dead or alive

'The Lost Lakes of Bangalore' contest documents Bangalore’s many tanks and lakes, with winners focusing on Dharmambudhi, Doddabommasandra, Mathikere and Kaikondrahalli lakes.

“It is remarkable how several hundred years ago, city planners were able to plan and execute the Bangalore lake system”, says Rajul Ramchandani, a student of Class X, Delhi Publish School (South). Ramchandani  made a video on Kaikondrahalli Lake on Sarjapur Road as part of the Lost Lakes of Bangalore video contest.

“The silver lining is that not all is lost and many citizens and government bodies are realising the mistakes of the past and making amends wherever possible. One such result is the Kaikondrahalli lake.

My experience has been that the civic bodies are quite powerful and can make these changes quite rapidly.”

Rajul Ramchandani, Special Mention, Lost Lakes of Bangalore

From being a student whose “knowledge about the lake system was almost zero”, he says he has learnt how much damage has already been done, and how responsible citizens are working with civic bodies to rejuvenate the lakes.

Ramchandani’s video got a special mention in ‘Lost Lakes of Bangalore’, a short-film contest organised by Arghyam, a non-profit foundation that works towards water management.

The prize distribution ceremony for the video contest will take place on Saturday, July 03, 2010 from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm at TERI auditorium, Domlur II Stage, Domlur Layout. The winning videos will be screened; followed by talks by experts on the overall lake situation in Bangalore. Rohini Nilekani, Chairperson of Arghyam Trust will distribute prizes to the winners.

Arghyam organised the contest “The Lost Lakes of Bangalore” to document Bangalore’s many tanks and lakes which have vanished with unplanned urbanisation and growth.

It had two categories – student (school and college students) and general (all others). Arun Patre, a member of Arghyam, says they received around 40 entries. All the entries have been uploaded on YouTube, a video-sharing website.

The winners of the Lost Lakes of Bangalore are as follows;

General category:

“Err- bane” Truth – Dharmambudhi Tank by Nishant Ratnakar and Badekkila Pradeep.

Student’s category:

a) Doddabommasandra Lake of Vidyaranyapura by C M Ahamad Sha and G N Ganesh Kathare from Kannada University.
b) Mathikere – The Resurrection by Mohan Krishna, Nandan S S, Nayana R K, Nishith Bolar and Nithin M Thomas.

Kaikondrahalli Lake of Sarjapur Road by Rajul Ramchandani also got a special mention in the competition.

Dharmambudhi Tank

Nishant Ratnakar (28) and Badekkila Pradeep (26), both media professionals, are the winners in the general category, with their video on Dharmambudhi Lake.

Pradeep says, “A city which had more than 1500 lakes has only a handful today. It is not about the numbers I am concerned about. But the real concern is that if they were to be alive today, it would have been still a Garden City, which I am afraid Bangalore is not anymore one”.

Their video in docu-drama style, traces back the origins of Dharmambudi Lake which served as the city’s life-line. Now the empty lake bed is home to the Majestic bus terminus and nearby buildings.

The short-film also sends out a strong message that a day might come when we have to destroy such man-made structures such as Majestic bus-stand to rebuild the lost lakes, just like how a six-lane road built on the river Cheonggyecheon in South Korea was destroyed to restore the river’s original form as a measure to decongest the area.

“Dharmambhudhi tank is a story that needs to be told to my generation. The site now represents the ironic symbol of Bangalore’s growth as a city: the Kempegowda Bus Stand (how ironic for the lake to have been killed and the new structure be named after its founder).

Bangalore has serious environmentalists who have been fighting for green causes. But these environmentalists are old war horses. There seem to be very few successors. My generation seems to be hardly interested. Most of them are caught up inside their own little cocoons. They need to be introduced to green issues that ultimately affect them”.

 – Nishant Ratnakar, Winner – general category, Lost Lakes of Bangalore


Doddabommasandra Lake

“I live in Chitradurga and a few times I pondered on borewells getting dried up and many times we purchased water for Rs 150 for half a tank of water,” says Ahmad Sha Azlan, a student of Ideal P U College, Chitradurga.

He and his partner G N Ganesh Kathare, a student of Kannada University in Hampi, explored Bellandur Lake, Ulsoor Lake and finally zeroed in on Doddabommasandra Lake because of its neglected condition. Their entry was adjudged one of the winners in the students’ category.

The 10-minute-film explores a low-lying landmass, depicting remnants of a dried up lake and shows how different people use the space for different reasons – one of them is for relieving themselves or defecating.

The alarming background score draws your attention to the imminent threats of encroachments. A writing on a half-built boundary wall on the dried up lake bed reads – For Sale Contact, 98450****.

Azlan, who aims to become a cinematographer, feels that the video can be made better and says, “I shot the movie without a tripod”.

Mathikere Lake

Thanking India Water Portal organisation for giving him an opportunity, Nishith Bolar, a mechanical engineering student from M S Ramaiah College, says, “It was a very nostalgic moment for me when we began shooting for our movie”.

The film by Bolar and his classmates Nithin Mathew Thomas, Mohan Krishna, Nandan S S and Nayana R K on Mathikere Lake was the other winner in the student category.

“I was in 4th standard when my parents moved to Mathikere,” says Bolar, adding it was a quiet place then with few houses and lot of empty sites with green vegetation. “My father used tell me that  the site on which our house stands today used to be a big lake 20 years ago,” says Bolar.

He also adds that he used to see people swimming in the ponds, some fishing for small crabs and some busy washing cattle. With time the pond got polluted, thanks to the small industries that started pumping effluents into them. The once 125 acre lake has today shrunk to 85 acre and is preserved as part of Jayaprakash Narayan Park today.

The video also takes you around the beautiful park and highlights attractions of the park such as fishes and birds. However, the video also shows a grim side of the lake too. Connecting canals (rajakaluves) to the lake have all dried up and waste materials are being dumped to flatten the lake bed. The other threat is illegal encroachment.

Thomas says the experience, “made me a more responsible citizen (encouraging me) to preserve, save and water.”

Kaikondrahalli Lake

Ramchandani’s video shows how residents living near the dried up 100-year-old lake got together and brought it to the notice of BBMP and Forest Department. Now the government has scanctioned a plan to rejuvenate the flora and fauna around the lake and save it from encroachment.

He concludes, “I learn how to shoot and edit movies. As a student I feel I have done a diploma in videography and also learnt how lakes are restored.”



  1. Deepa Ranganathan says:

    Thanks for these videos. Very informative indeed! 🙂

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