Ramsar Wetlands: A rich biodiversity

The rich and unique biodiversity of the region is an added layer of intrigue to the historical city of Bulandshahr. Located in western Uttar Pradesh and situated in the fertile Doab region, Bulandshahr is richly endowed with a wide variety of flora and fauna. Interestingly, like its many other legacies, the biodiversity of Bulandshahr is curated by the various forces of history. Thus, a critical analysis of elements of its biodiversity provides a unique insight into valuable social, cultural, and historical information.

For instance, the Ganges in Ahar Khadar, at a distance of 45 kilometres from Bulandshahr, reveals an amazing natural history. The mighty river Ganga is the heart of the fertile Indo-Gangetic Plains, and plays a fundamental role in defining its biodiversity. Due to the presence of the river, alluvial soil is the primary type of soil in the region. The river basin is continuously deposited with new alluvium, called khadar, which makes the surrounding regions extremely fertile. Conversely, the older alluvium form slightly elevated terraces, called bhangar, which often contain patches of alkaline efflorescence, called usar, which dramatically reduce the fertility of the soil. The repeated tidal process of the river and the continuous deposition of alluvium and the creation of the khadar and bhangar are important factors to understand not just the shifts in the course of the river, but also the agricultural practices of the region. For centuries, people have tried to harness the river for agriculture by creating irrigational channels. Additionally, the sandy aquifers hold an enormous amount of ground water that further facilitate irrigation, making the plains the most agriculturally productive area of the country.

Fig. 1 : Bulandshahr on the map of United Province

However, the historical significance of the river does not end there. An interesting feature at Ahar Khadar is the pontoon bridge on the river. Also known as the floating bridge, a pontoon bridge is usually a temporary bridge created using floats or shallow-draft boats which can support limited amount of weight. Most of these bridges are made and used during wartime or emergencies. At Ahar Khadar too, the pontoon bridge is a reminder of the 1857 mutineers’ quick escape to Rohilkhand using natural water ways. Thus, the Ganges plays a central role in Bulandshahr’s biodiversity and history.

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