The Lakkasandra lake, a respectably sized blue spot on Google Maps, beckons. Is it a challenge or an invitation?

Find the lake if you can,” says a colleague on being told that C&N would go to Wilson Garden this week, and our antennae go up. The Lakkasandra lake, a respectably sized blue spot on Google Maps, beckons. Is it a challenge or an invitation? There’s only one way to find out.

“Lake?” says a bemused A.C. Chako when asked for directions. The 70-year-old tells us the grocery store he owns in Lakkasandra had been standing there for over 40 years, and he has been a resident of the area since 1965, but he grins when asked about the lake. “There may have been one in this area a long time ago, but now, as you see, there are only buildings all around.” However, there is still a tank in its place, he says, and points us towards it.

Along the way, requests for directions to the tank are occasionally met with shrugs and smiles, but we eventually come upon a place that look like it might be the one. A wall surrounds our mysterious water body, and there seems no way in. A couple of young boys scale the wall expertly and disappear to the other side, leaving us gaping after them. Incapable of replicating their feat, we leave that day, disappointed.

What we eventually found was that the lake today remains only as a blue spot on paper, as is the case in many other parts of the city. There’s no tank in Lakkasandra either. Bizarrely, enclosed within the walls, a few shacks cobbled together with twigs and sheets of plastic lie on uneven ground covered with weeds, beside a large abandoned swimming pool with a viewing gallery.

D. Chandrappa, councillor for the area — which falls under the Hombegowda Nagar ward — since 1996, lives only a stone’s throw away from the pool. A resident of the area for over 50 years, he says construction began on the 7.5-acre space a few years ago. “Earlier, Rs. 8.5 crore was sanctioned for a swimming pool, [gallery], park and playground. Rs. 2.5 crore came, with which we built the swimming pool and [gallery]. Then the money stopped.”

Disease threat?

“When it rains, the pool fills up. Mosquitoes do come,” Chandrappa admits, adding that to eliminate the risk of mosquito-borne diseases spreading, phenyl and DDT were being scattered in the area. “How can the water be cleared? For that we need a pump and so on.” Recently, he says he “did some galata” and got Rs. 1.5 crore, with which he plans to build a walking track, install lights and benches, build a compound wall and hire security for the pool.

The swimming pool and gallery lie desolate amidst the barren expanse of land, visited only by children who come to graze their sheep on the grass nearby or to play on the pool’s floor.

Some of the tiles lining the pool have broken away, and garbage and stagnant water occupy a section of the pool, but for 17-year-old Murali and his friends, who live around it, it’s been a convenient venue for a game of cricket. Played with a tennis ball and a plank, there are shouts when the ball occasionally plonks into the black water at the end of the pool, and the game is paused, but this is only temporary: the littlest child in the group is quickly despatched to retrieve the ball, and the game resumes.

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