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Exploring the Historical Landscape and Ecological Significance of the Oxbow Lake in Kundli, Sonepat

This research led by Aneesh Sriram, Undergraduate Student majoring in History from the batch of 2025, explores, the historical landscape of Kundli, Sonepat. It aims to uncover the existence and significance of an ancient oxbow lake through remote sensing and on-site exploration

This research aims to utilise various sources to investigate and comprehend the historical landscape of the environment in an area not very far from the Ashoka university. Two approaches have been employed to analyse the geomorphology of Kundli, Sonepat. The rationale behind this project stems from the inquiry into what the ancient surroundings of our inhabited place resembled. By utilising historical satellite imagery from Google Earth, archival map materials such as the Survey of India open series maps (OSM), and geographic information systems (GIS), the potential existence of a geographic feature—an oxbow lake—was explored. Oxbow lakes in the Indian subcontinent are areas with rich biodiversity. They also provide important information about the past climate and historical settlement patterns of the region.

Fig.1 Evolution of the Oxbow Lake, 2000-13

There is no doubt that the surroundings of the district harbour significant archaeological material spanning from the protohistoric to the early modern periods. This prompts the question: what were the potential spheres of interaction between the humans who inhabited this area in the past and the oxbow lake? How did this interaction impact settlement patterns? These inquiries form the basis of a study on the history of the oxbow lake.

Fig.2 Visible on-ground features of the oxbow lake

In addition to utilising remote sensing methods to decode the path of the erstwhile feature, an on-site study was conducted at Kundli to understand the modern condition and usage of the parts of the lake that still exist today. Presently, most sections of the lake are occupied by industries, commercial ventures, or residential buildings. The surviving segments have been adversely affected by urban pollutants originating from nearby anthropogenic activities.

Traced vector layer depicting the path of the oxbow lake in the satellite imagery from 2023 (QGIS, 2023).

Accompanied by on-site pictures, it was possible to reconstruct the trajectory the lake would have followed if it were still present today. This study also addresses the cause of its disappearance—the rapid growth of industries around the area. Similarly, it can be inferred that no thorough risk assessment or pre-construction archaeological surveys have been conducted in the study area. The proliferation of industries and residential areas near the water body might put the natural environment and possible archaeological material at risk.

Nonetheless, this study represents one of the pioneering efforts in the Yamuna River basin, specifically in the Sonepat district. For future research endeavours, determining the precise age of the lake could provide insights into its seasonal exploitation by settlements in its vicinity through the past. Conducting a paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the areas surrounding the lake would shed light on the age of its formation and the species that inhabited its surroundings over time. Additionally, it is recommended to core available spots near the oxbow lake in Sersa Kundli. Such an approach would facilitate a multidisciplinary archaeological study, providing crucial information on the palaeoenvironment and organic remnants present.

(Written by Aneesh Sriram, UG 2025 (History), Student Intern (CIAR) and Edited by Dr Yukti Arora, Senior Manager, Academic Communications, RDO, Ashoka University)

Reference Article:
Emerging from the Yamuna – studying an erstwhile oxbow lake in Sersa, Haryana, India Current Science, Vol. 126, NO. 2, January 2024
doi: 10.18520/cs/v126/i2/271-276

Author: Aneesh Sriram

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka

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