Different Types of Lakes in India: Features & Characteristics


In this article, we will explore the different types of lakes in India. Lakes are beautiful bodies of water that come in various types, each with its own unique features and formation. We will take a closer look at natural lakes, glacial lakes, volcanic lakes, tectonic lakes, oxbow lakes, reservoirs, meromictic lakes, and saltwater lakes.

By understanding these different types of lakes, we can appreciate the beauty and diversity of lakes in India. So, let’s dive in and learn more about the fascinating world of Indian lakes!


Lakes are fascinating natural features that play a crucial role in ecosystems worldwide. These bodies of water vary greatly in their origins, characteristics, and ecological significance. In this article, we will delve into the different types of lakes, examining their formation processes, unique features, and notable examples around the globe.

Type of LakeFormationCharacteristicsExamples
Natural LakesFormed by natural processesVaries in size, depth, and shapeLake Baikal
Glacial LakesFormed by glacial activityOften deep, clear, and surrounded by snowLake Louise
Volcanic LakesFormed in volcanic cratersCan be acidic, rich in mineralsCrater Lake
Tectonic LakesFormed by tectonic activityLong and narrow, following fault linesLake Tanganyika
Oxbow LakesFormed from meandering riversCurved or horseshoe-shapedCaddo Lake
ReservoirsArtificially createdFormed by damming rivers or water bodiesLake Mead
Meromictic LakesLayers of water do not mixDistinct layers of water with different propertiesLake Cadagno
Saltwater LakesHigh concentration of saltsSalinity levels higher than in the oceanDead Sea
Types of Lakes

Types of Lakes

The following are the different types of lakes:

  1. Natural Lakes
  2. Glacial Lakes
  3. Volcanic Lakes
  4. Tectonic Lakes
  5. Oxbow Lakes
  6. Saltwater Lakes
Type of LakeExamples (India)
Natural LakesWular Lake (Jammu and Kashmir)
Glacial LakesRoopkund Lake (Uttarakhand)
Volcanic LakesLonar Lake (Maharashtra)
Tectonic LakesChilika Lake (Odisha)
Oxbow LakesNalsarovar Lake (Gujarat)
ReservoirsNagarjuna Sagar Lake (Andhra Pradesh)
Meromictic LakesLonar Lake (Maharashtra)
Saltwater LakesChilka Lake (Odisha)
Indian Lakes

1. Natural Lakes

  • Formed through geological processes over time, such as tectonic activity, glacial erosion, or volcanic activity.
  • Natural lakes are found in various regions around the world, including North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
  • They can have diverse origins:
    1. Glacial lakes: Formed by the movement and melting of glaciers, often leaving behind U-shaped valleys that fill with water.
    2. Volcanic lakes: Created within volcanic craters or calderas, either through rainfall, groundwater accumulation, or direct volcanic activity.
    3. Tectonic lakes: Result from geological movements, such as faults, rift zones, or tectonic plate boundaries.
    4. Oxbow lakes: Formed when a meandering river changes its course, leaving behind a curved or horseshoe-shaped body of water.
  • Natural lakes play a crucial role in supporting ecosystems and biodiversity by providing habitats for various plant and animal species.
  • They serve as important water sources for human communities, providing drinking water, irrigation, and recreational opportunities.
  • The size, shape, and depth of natural lakes can vary significantly, ranging from small and shallow to large and deep bodies of water.
  • The water in natural lakes can come from various sources, including precipitation, runoff from surrounding land, or groundwater.
  • Many natural lakes have unique features, such as rocky shores, sandy beaches, submerged vegetation, and underwater geological formations.

2. Glacial Lakes

  • Glacial lakes are formed as a result of glacial activity and the melting of ice.
  • During the last Ice Age, massive glaciers advanced and retreated, carving out U-shaped valleys in the landscape.
  • As the glaciers receded, these valleys were filled with water, forming glacial lakes.
  • Glacial lakes are often characterized by their stunning beauty and pristine waters.
  • They can be found in regions that were covered by glaciers, such as North America, Europe, and parts of Asia.
  • The Great Lakes in North America, including Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, are prime examples of glacial lakes.
  • Glacial lakes can vary in size, depth, and shape, depending on the characteristics of the underlying glacial activity.
  • These lakes often have a distinctive blue or green color due to the presence of finely ground rock particles, known as glacial flour, suspended in the water.

3. Volcanic Lakes

  • Volcanic lakes are formed within volcanic craters or calderas, either by the accumulation of rainfall and groundwater or through direct volcanic activity.
  • They can be found in volcanic regions around the world, where volcanic activity has shaped the landscape.
  • The water in volcanic lakes often comes from a combination of precipitation, surface runoff, and groundwater sources.
  • Volcanic lakes can vary in size, depth, and shape depending on the specific volcanic activity that formed them.
  • These lakes are often characterized by crystal-clear waters, thanks to the absence of sediment and the volcanic nature of the surrounding terrain.
  • Volcanic lakes can exhibit different colors, ranging from deep blue to turquoise or even green, due to various factors such as dissolved minerals and volcanic gases.
  • They are often nestled within the confines of volcanic craters, surrounded by steep walls or volcanic peaks, creating a unique and dramatic setting.
  • Some volcanic lakes have islands or volcanic vents within them, adding to their geological interest.
  • Volcanic lakes can have high temperatures or contain geothermal features due to the volcanic activity beneath the surface.
  • Examples of volcanic lakes include Lake Taupo in New Zealand, Crater Lake in the United States, Lake Toba in Indonesia, and Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.

4. Tectonic Lakes

  • Tectonic lakes are formed as a result of geological movements in the Earth’s crust, typically associated with faults, rift zones, or tectonic plate boundaries.
  • They can be found in regions where tectonic activity has shaped the landscape, such as rift valleys or areas along plate boundaries.
  • They are often long and narrow, following the pattern of the underlying tectonic structures.
  • Examples of tectonic lakes include Lake Baikal in Russia, Lake Tanganyika in Africa, and Lake Malawi in Africa.
  • Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest and oldest lake, formed in a rift valley between two tectonic plates.
  • Lake Tanganyika is the longest freshwater lake globally and is situated within the Great Rift Valley.
  • Tectonic lakes can have unique ecological characteristics and support a rich diversity of plant and animal species.
  • They often serve as important habitats for aquatic life, including various fish species.
  • Tectonic lakes can also have cultural and economic significance, providing resources for local communities such as fishing and tourism.
  • These lakes offer opportunities for recreational activities such as boating, swimming, and wildlife observation.
  • Studying tectonic lakes provides valuable insights into the dynamic processes shaping the Earth’s surface and the interaction between tectonics and hydrology.

5. Oxbow Lakes

  • Oxbow lakes are formed when a meandering river changes its course over time, leaving behind a curved or horseshoe-shaped body of water.
  • They are named after the resemblance of their shape to a yoke used for harnessing oxen.
  • Oxbow lakes are commonly found in floodplain areas, where rivers have a tendency to meander and change their paths.
  • As a river meanders, it erodes the outer bank of a bend and deposits sediment on the inner bank, causing the bend to become more pronounced.
  • Over time, the continuous erosion and sedimentation processes can cause the meander loop to detach from the main river channel, forming an oxbow lake.
  • Oxbow lakes are often characterized by calm waters, as they are isolated from the main river flow.
  • They can vary in size, ranging from small ponds to larger bodies of water, depending on the scale of the meander and the volume of water involved.
  • Oxbow lakes play an important ecological role, providing habitats for a variety of aquatic plants and animals.
  • They serve as valuable wetland ecosystems, supporting diverse wildlife and vegetation.

6. Saltwater Lakes

  • Saltwater lakes, also known as saline or salt lakes, have a high concentration of dissolved salts in their water.
  • They are formed through various processes, including evaporation, geological processes, or the presence of underground salt deposits.
  • Saltwater lakes can be found in different parts of the world, both inland and along coastlines.
  • The salinity levels in these lakes can be significantly higher than in the ocean.
  • The salinity in saltwater lakes can result from the accumulation of salts from surrounding rocks and soils or from the inflow of saline groundwater.
  • The Dead Sea, located between Jordan and Israel, is one of the most famous saltwater lakes in the world. It is known for its extremely high salt content and buoyancy, attracting tourists from around the globe.
  • The Great Salt Lake in Utah, USA, is another notable saltwater lake, renowned for its salt flats and diverse bird population.
  • Saltwater lakes can have unique ecosystems adapted to the high salinity conditions, supporting specialized organisms and unique biodiversity.
  • Some saltwater lakes are temporary or seasonal, forming during periods of high rainfall and subsequently evaporating during dry seasons.
  • These lakes often have distinct colors, ranging from deep blue to pink or reddish hues, caused by the presence of specific algae or bacteria that thrive in saline environments.
Types of Lakes in India

Types of Lakes in India with Examples

Different types of lakes in India along with examples:

  1. Natural Lakes:
    • Wular Lake (Jammu and Kashmir)
    • Chilika Lake (Odisha)
    • Vembanad Lake (Kerala)
    • Loktak Lake (Manipur)
    • Dal Lake (Jammu and Kashmir)
  2. Glacial Lakes:
    • Roopkund Lake (Uttarakhand)
    • Deoria Tal (Uttarakhand)
    • Tso Moriri Lake (Jammu and Kashmir)
    • Gurudongmar Lake (Sikkim)
    • Hemkund Lake (Uttarakhand)
  3. Volcanic Lakes:
    • Lonar Lake (Maharashtra)
    • Barren Island Crater Lake (Andaman and Nicobar Islands)
  4. Tectonic Lakes:
    • Chilka Lake (Odisha)
    • Pulicat Lake (Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu)
    • Vembanad Lake (Kerala)
  5. Oxbow Lakes:
    • Nalsarovar Lake (Gujarat)
    • Kanwar Lake (Bihar)
    • Upper Kolab Reservoir (Odisha)
  6. Reservoirs:
    • Nagarjuna Sagar Lake (Andhra Pradesh)
    • Bhakra Nangal Reservoir (Himachal Pradesh and Punjab)
    • Sardar Sarovar Reservoir (Gujarat)
  7. Meromictic Lakes:
    • Lonar Lake (Maharashtra)
    • Ulsoor Lake (Karnataka)
    • Roopkund Lake (Uttarakhand)
  8. Saltwater Lakes:
    • Chilka Lake (Odisha)
    • Pulicat Lake (Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu)
    • Sambhar Lake (Rajasthan)
    • Vembanad Lake (Kerala)

These examples represent the diverse range of lakes found across India, each with its unique characteristics and significance.


Lakes come in a remarkable variety of types, each with its own formation processes, characteristics, and ecological significance. Understanding the different types of lakes allows us to appreciate the geological forces that shape our planet and the diverse habitats they provide for numerous plant and animal species.

From glacial lakes carved by ice to volcanic lakes nestled within craters, and from tectonic lakes shaped by Earth’s movements to oxbow lakes reflecting changing river courses, these natural wonders captivate our imagination and emphasize the importance of preserving these fragile ecosystems.

Thank You!

What is a natural lake?

A natural lake is a water body that forms through natural processes, such as tectonic activity, glacial erosion, or volcanic activity. It is not created or significantly altered by human activity. An example of a natural lake in India is Wular Lake in Jammu and Kashmir.

How are glacial lakes formed?


Glacial lakes are formed when glaciers melt, leaving behind depressions that fill with water. These lakes often have a characteristic blue or green color due to the fine sediment called glacial flour. An example of a glacial lake in India is Roopkund Lake in Uttarakhand.

What are the different types of lakes in India?

In India, some of the different types of lakes include Dal Lake (Kashmir), Chilika Lake (Odisha), Wular Lake (Kashmir), Vembanad Lake (Kerala), Lonar Lake (Maharashtra), Pushkar Lake (Rajasthan), Pulicat Lake (Andhra Pradesh), and Loktak Lake (Manipur). These lakes vary in their formation, geographical location, ecological significance, and cultural importance.

Which is the largest freshwater lake?

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area, covering approximately 82,100 square kilometers (31,700 square miles). It is located in North America, shared by the United States and Canada.

5/5 - (3 votes)

Vikramjit Singh, founder of Newscoop, an esteemed UPSC educational website, helps aspirants prepare for UPSC CSE with 5 years of experience, offering a deep understanding of crucial concepts.

Leave a Reply