Ghodaghodi Tal is a Ramsar site in western Nepal

Ghodaghodi Tal is a Ramsar site in western Nepal. Established in August 2003 it covers an area of 2,563 ha (6,330 acres) in Kailali District at an altitude of 205 m (673 ft) on the lower slopes of the Siwalik Hills. This Ramsar site consists of a system of around 13 large and shallow oxbow lakes and ponds with associated marshes and meadows. It is surrounded by tropical deciduous forest and some streams along the periphery, which are separated by hillocks.

The lake has a record of 388 vascular plants: five pteridophytes, 253 dicots, and 130 monocots. The forest and wetlands serve as a wildlife corridor between the Terai lowland and the Siwalik Hills. They support critically endangered and vulnerable species including Bengal tiger, smooth-coated otter, Eurasian otter, swamp deer, lesser adjutant stork, marsh crocodile, red-crowned roofed turtle, and three-striped roofed turtle.

The lake’s name is derived from the Nepali word for “horse”. According to the legend, God Shiva and Goddess Parvati used to turn into horses and circle around the lake. Today, Ghodaghodi Lake is still an important place of worship for the local Tharu people. A small temple is located on the banks of the lake. Many Tharus gather during the Agahan Panchami and Maghi Festivals. Here, they offer horses, elephants, and tigers made out of clay to the Goddess Gauri Mata in order for their wishes to come true. Since this is still a tradition today, a lot of clay horses can be found in the temple.

The pressure of illegal immigrants from adjoining hill areas results in intensive use of the lake for traditional fishing, and agricultural services. The lake is of great religious value. There is a shrine to the Ghodaghodi deity where indigenous Tharu (an indigenous ethnic group) celebrate a traditional festival (Agan Panchami) by worshiping and offering animals during the month of December. People take holy bath in the lake. There are several legends related to the origin of Ghodaghodi Lake. The forest is used for grazing, fuelwood and to harvest sal wood for timber. The lake has high potential value for tourism.

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