Vembanad Lake

Vembanad Lake (Vembanad Kayal or Vembanad Kol) is India's longest lake,and is the largest lake in the state of Kerala. It is also one of the largest lakes in India.

Geography and Hydrography

The Vembanad wetland system covers an area of over 1512 km². The lake is bordered by Alappuzha, Kottayam, and Ernakulam districts. It lies at sea level, and is separated from the Arabian Sea by a narrow barrier island. Canals link the lake to other coastal lakes to the north and south. Several rivers flow into the lake, including the Achenkovil, Manimala, Meenachil, Muvattupuzha, Pamba and Periyar. The lake surrounds the islands of Pathiramanal, Perumbalam and Pallippuram. The Vembanad Lake is approximately 14 kilometres wide at its widest point.

A unique characteristic of the lake is the location of the Thanneermukkom salt water barrier. The Thanneermukkom salt water barrier was constructed as a part of the Kuttanad Development Scheme to prevent tidal action and intrusion of salt water into the Kuttanad low-lands. It is the largest mud regulator in India. This barrier essentially divides the lake into two parts - one with brackish water perennially and the other half with fresh water fed by the rivers draining in to the lake. This barrier has helped the farmers in Kuttanad - where farming is done below sea level. It has however also created ecological problems, primarily, the rampant propagation of the Water Hyacinth in fresh water.

Tourism

Vembanad Lake is at the heart of Kerala Backwaters tourism with hundreds of kettuvallams crisscrossing it and numerous resorts nestling on its banks. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located on the east coast of the lake. The lake is famous for its scenic beauty and has become a major tourist attraction.