Raja rani is another famous regional tourism hub located in Letang Municipality in Morang district of south eastern belt of Nepal. It is about 49 km from Biratnagar, the capital of Province no. 1, and the road separates at Kanepokhari from the East- West highway. This wetland is situated at an altitude of 500m from sea level and is surrounded by the Chisang river. The whole terrain is a wetland with lakes surrounded by shorea robusta(saal in Nepali) forests, orchids and various species of other herbs, shrubs and tress. Although the lake present here is stream fed, the water reserves of this lake is regulated through a dam. Thus, the lake in the area is classified as semi natural freshwater lake by the authorities.
Raja Pokhari, Rani Pokhari, and Rajkumari Pokhari are the three ponds in this surrounding marshland. Among them, Rani Pokhari has the highest area of 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers) that features a dense forest growing up directly from the water. In addition to this, this place also houses various species of orchids flower that certainly add to the picturesque landscape of the lake. A total of 45 species of orchid has been reported to be found in this area. In comparison, Raja Pokhari is a relatively small lake with a lesser amount of vegetation, Rajkumari Pokhari is a tiny lake having no any vegetational habitat whereas Rani Pokhari is an oval shaped lake with a densely grown vegetation. Along with this, Rani Pokhari also attracts a variety of bird species that come to the area for shelter and water. The local community forests group in this region are highly dedicated for the protection of the enriched vegetation biodiversity present in this area and prevent any types of illegal smuggling of trees or other activities that might be a threat to the biodiversity of the region.
In addition to species of aquatic orchids, some terrestrial orchids are also endemic to this area and densely covers the branches of the trees. The local people as well as the authorities are very strict about the conservation of orchids in this area as the occurrence of orchids in other predominant area has been decreasing. Picking of the flowers of orchids is strictly banned in this area and anyone found carrying out such activities will have to bear heavy penalty as well as other consequences. This area is one of the orchid sanctuaries that has been managed and conserved by the local people themselves.
Raja rani wetland is a biodiversity rich terrain that has been the site of conservation of vegetation as well as the spot for internal tourism for the regional people. The captivating landscape of this area covered with beautiful orchid flowers is a major source of attraction along with a varied species of birds that attracts several nature lover and wildlife photographers and researchers. The local people of the region are determined to change this wetland into a ecotourism spot that attracts all sorts of national and international tourists. However, despite of the efforts of local people and authorities to conserve the orchid species, more strong efforts are required from national and international level to carry out research and study with the help of botanists, technicians and veterans to figure out a sustainable strategy not only to conserve but also to increase the number of orchid species found in this region.
-Article written by: Ujjwal Bhetwal for Land Nepal
The Rani Taal(Queen Lake)