The Indian city of Kanpur is generally sprawling but unplanned. And right in the heart is a religious Kanpur pond that has a thriving turtle population that in itself is nothing short of a miracle. The Kanpur pond is located in a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Catching or possessing a turtle is banned in India under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Water bodies, especially in urban areas, are getting destroyed as they are either drying up or getting filled for development.
The Kanpur pond is right in the middle of the city. Devotees flock regularly and offer food to the turtles. The temple is 200 years old, though the pond is a lot older. The turtles in the Kanpur pond are also very old though their age has not been verified by experts.
Many turtles are large and have shells measuring up to 3 feet. A resident, Rajesh Pathak says that they are too heavy to be lifted by a single person.
The Kanpur pond waters are dark green and, surprisingly, it supports such a large population of marine life.
Kanpur Pond Turtles Are Fed And Protected By Devotees And Locals
Tuesdays are considered auspicious, and devotees throng the Kanpur pond to feed the turtles. The turtles have developed a taste for cottage cheese and respond to calls and line up along the bank of the pond.
Pathak says that the turtle is a revered creature in mythology. Hindus believe that our planet is held up by a gigantic turtle. Other mythological texts refer to the turtle as a personification of the Hindu God, Lord Vishnu. Devotees believe that feeding the turtles will lead to salvation.
Pathak says that whatever the reason, the large turtles get fed sufficiently. At times, the smaller turtles stray into nearby homes but are safely returned by residents. There have been attempts at poaching but were prevented by local people.
A retired forest official living nearby says that the turtles in the Kanpur pond are a miracle in itself. He says that even as ponds in Kanpur get destroyed, such a large number of turtles in the middle of this densely populated city is unique.
There has not been any support forthcoming from any government organization to protect the Kanpur pond. But it has still managed to thrive. The pond is fed only by rainwater. At times, water is pumped into the pond when the level falls, though it generally remains constant through the year.