Lake with nine-corners; A star-shaped lake 'Mai Pokhari'
Mai Pokhari is a mid-hill wetland located in the eastern Illam district of Nepal. It was declared as a Ramsar site on 28 October 2008. Mai Pokhari covers 12 hectares of land and with a circumference of about 1km. It is 13km away from the district headquarter i.e Illam Bazar. The pond is situated at an altitude of 2100m from the sea level. The source of water in the pokhari is from natural springs and precipitation. It is the main source of fresh water for local people.
This place has high religious significance to both the Hindu and Buddhist people. It is a star-shaped pond with nine corners, each corner dedicated to nine different gods. An annual fair is held every year around the month of October or November as it is considered as the holy place of Goddess Bhagawati Temple.
Maipokhari Botanical Garden is located on the side of the lake which is of horticultural and ecological importance which houses a rock garden, an orchid house, plants collected from many regions of eastern Nepal, and a greenhouse. The lake is surrounded by beautiful flora consisting of Water Lily, Orchid, Schima, Castanopsis, Laurel Oak (Quercus laurifolia), Cone trees, Rhododendron and many other herbs.
Along with the vegetation, it is home for numerous fauna like Porcupine, Leopard Cat, Musk Deer, Jackal, White-rumped vulture, Eurasian otter, and endemic species of Thakthake and Variegated Mountain lizard. There are also 300 species of birds recorded around the wetland. However, the wetland is facing some threats. The threats being the introduction of invasive species, occupation of forest area, haphazard construction activity, the proliferation of human settlement on the tracks leading to the wetland. The local authorities and different international and national are trying their best to preserve the vegetation with awareness programs and socio-cultural studies.
These flora and fauna add additional beauty to the lake. The view of the lake is magical when the sky is clear, the lake has a perfect reflection of the surrounding forest and sky. Along with this, this place provides a beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains surrounding it. The place with its green lush environment is a perfect place for boating and fishing.
Mai Pokhari can be visited all round the year. Being at that high altitude means it can be refreshing cool in the summer season. However, in the winter it can get quite chilly. Preparation should be done according to the season you are planning to visit.
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