History of Pala Tipo
History highlights that Palak Dil was formed around 800-1200 CE. This was the period marked by the westward migration of the Mara people from Burma. Mara legend highlights the area occupied by the lake was initially a big village called Hnychao. About 300 families lived in this village. A cave housed by an elephantine serpent was located below a big rock in center of the village. Troublesome events in the village like the disappearance of children playing around this rock and the evanescence of livestock animals at night were being attributed to the presence of serpent inside the cave. Consequently, the villagers decided to hunt this serpent. For this purpose, the village hunters used a goat (or dog in other version) as bait and a colossal fishing pole. Thereafter, there are two versions shaping the next segment of the story regarding the formation of Pala Tipo.
It is believed that the snake was killed and the meat was distributed among the villagers. A part of the head of the snake was received by a widow and her two children. The widow saw the eyes of the snake blinking and rolling and staring at her, while being cooked. This sight had frightened her. Consequently, she threw the cooking pot into the street. Next she saw her doorstep was being flooded. To save her life and that of her children, she fled away. This pool of water then converted into a lake thereby submerging the village. This lake was then named Pala Tipo.
Another version highlights that in an attempt to catch the snake the hunters were only successful in cutting the snake from the middle, thereby causing the bottom half of the snake to fall back into the cave with a massive thunder. This forced out the water from the cave thereby submerging the entire settlement. This lake was then called Pala Tipo, literally meaning a swallowing or submerging lake.
Beliefs Regarding Pala Tipo
Pala Tipo is associated with few beliefs held by the people. It is believed that ghosts and demons haunt this lake. It is also believed that a village survives below the lake. A story of a British Officer is also associated with this lake. A British Officer commanded one of his men to fetch him back his sword, which he had dropped in the middle of Pala Tipo. This man acted upon his command and plunged into the lake, only to reach the surface alive after 3 days. For this miraculous return, the man explained that he returned after 3 long days as he had feasted and was heavily drunk.
Geography and Hydrography of Pala Tipo
Globally, Palak Dil can be pinpointed at coordinates, 22 degrees12 minutes 9 seconds north and 92 degrees 53 minutes 18 seconds east. This lake occupies an area of about 30 hectares. It has a maximum length of about 870 meters and width of about 700 meters. Its average depth is about 17 metres and maximum depth of about 27 meters. Its surface area is about 1.5 square kilometers and surface elevation is about 270 metres. It has a drainage basin of about 18.5 square kilometers. Two main streams from the mountains in the vicinity of the lake act as its water source. These two streams form the primary inflow of this lake, whereas its primary outflow is a small river called Pala Lui. Thus, it can be said that the drainage of this lake is carried out through Pala Lui. The Mara people are blessed by a stretch of valley which is created by the drainage area of Pala Tipo. This valley is utilized by the Mara people for agricultural purposes and is also the main agricultural area for these people.
Palak Dil provides shelter to a number of resident and migratory animals. This lake houses common and unique species of fishes. It has maintained different species of prawns, snails, crabs, turtles and tortoises in its water. It is also rich in a variety of birds, more specifically, endemic bird species. It is important to note that more than 70 species of birds have been recorded from the lake and its shore. Some of the unique species of birds inhabiting this lake are black-capped kingfisher, yellow wagtail, Nepal fulvetta, hooded pitta and white-rumped munia. These unique species are seldom seen in other parts of the region. Palak Dil also holds the population of aquatic birds and wild ducks, which are again not found anywhere else in Mizoram. Settlements in the vicinity of the lake are Phura, Tongkalong and Saiha.
Tourism of Pala Tipo
Certain features of Pala Tipo have made it a fastest growing picnic spot of the Saiha district. This lake is adorned by deep blue water and is located in the natural environment. It is surrounded by lush greenery. A scenic view of this lake is also possible due to the vast expanse of this lake. Since Pala Tipo comes under Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, it’s animal and plant species are of relevance to tourism of this lake. Therefore, one can come across wildlife animals, while touring this lake. This lake is also open to fun filled activity like boating. Thus, Pala Tipo is a tourism product of Mizoram.
Ecological Crisis Faced by Pala Tipo and Restoration
Uncontrolled activities may affect the ecology of a setting or area. This is true for Pala Tipo as due to shifting cultivation in the surrounding area of the lake, the forest area was extensively compromised. This called for major steps to be taken by ministry and authorities, to restore Palak Dil and its surrounding area. Consequently, the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests declared the area of about 15 square kilometers, comprising Palak Dil and its surrounding area, a protected area under the Palak Wildlife Sanctuary. It has also been selected as a potential ramsar site for wetland conservation by the Bombay Natural History Society.
Pala Tipo is about 76 km away from Saiha, the headquarters of MADC. The roads leading to this lake are motorable only via small or light vehicles. Nearby cities of this lake are Saiha, Champhai and Tiddim. Nearby villages of this lake are Phura, Tongkalong, and Lawngban, out of which Phura is known to be the main route for the visitors.
Lakes of India