Mai Pokhari is a mid-hill wetland of religious significance in eastern Ilam district of Nepal. It was declared as a Ramsar site on 28 October 2008. Maipokhari covers 12 hectares of land and with a circumference of about 1km. It is 13km away from the district headquarter i.e Ilam Bazar.
The pond is situated at an altitude of 2100m from the sea level. Mai Pokhari is natural, rainfall feeding lake but in present days, it is fed by Puha River. The lake is surrounded by Schima castanopsis and cone shaped trees. Fallen plants parts are the major bed materials of the lake. It is the main source of fresh water for local people.
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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. As indicated by Hindu book ‘Mahabharata”, the Pandav siblings wandered in Baraha chhetra, Arjundhara and came to Maipokhari. Throughout their residency remaining within the geographic area.
it’s a sacred spot for the Hindu, Buddhist and Kirat faith. Tashi Choling spiritual community, Shiva sanctuary, Saraswati sanctuary and Bhagawati sanctuary. Throughout Thulo Ekadashi large fairs are sorted call at these territories.
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Mai Pokhari Botanical Garden
Mai Pokhari 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.
More than 200 species of plant species covering 17 species of orchids, 3 species of magnolias, 36 species of trees, 9 species of ephiphytic orchids, 5 species of rhododendron etc have been recorded from the area. In addition, Mai Pokhari watershed is the main habitat for sphagnum moss (Sphagnum nepalense). Evapo-transpiration of the broad leaved forest in adjoining areas of the pond and topographical structure of the area keeps the watershed cool and humid almost throughout the year.
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.
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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.
Climate and weather
While Ilam district has a large altitude range–from the plains to very high mountains–Mai Pokhari is located quite high in the hills. Winters (December-February) are cold, and the monsoon season (June-September) is wet. In between these extremes, spring and autumn provide warm and generally dry weather. Due to the altitude, Mai Pokhari is generally cooler than Kathmandu.
Best Time to Visit
It can be refreshingly cool in the summer months, but a bit chilly in winter. However, as long as you’re prepared, you can visit at any time of year.