Veeranam Lake

Country/territory: India

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 3,885 ha

Protection status:

Bombay Natural History Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2003 medium not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Veeranam lake is situated in Cuddalore district, about 25 km west of Chidambaram town. It is one of the biggest and oldest lakes in Tamil Nadu. The Chola King Paranthaga constructed this lake in the 9th century AD. The book Ponniyen Selvan authored by Kalki in 1950 gives information on this lake, stating that it was constructed over 1,000 years ago by Prince Rajathithar, son of Paranthaga Cholan. The lake was originally called Veeranarayanan lake. The lake is about 16 km long and 8 km broad with a waterspread of about 15 sq. km. There are 34 sluices around the lake through which about 40,000 acres of two talukas, namely Chidambaram and Kattumanarkoil receive irrigation. The lake is fed by Vadavar river and Sengal stream. Under the current New Veeranam Project, parts of the lake were desilted recently. Veeranam Lake has a rich aquatic plant diversity with submerged, floating and emergent species. In several parts of the lake, mats of reeds and Ipomoea carnea occur. The trees found in the surrounding areas, islets and on the bunds are Acacia nilotica, Prosopis chilensis, Thespesia populnea, Pithecelobium dulce, Borassus flabellifer, Ficus benghalensis, F. religiosa and Azadirachta indica.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Veeranam lake is an important area for migrant and resident birds. The lake qualifies A4iii criteria as it holds, on a regular basis, more than 20,000 waterbirds. According to Thiyagesan (pers. comm. 2001), about 20,000 Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans visit this area, and V. Santharam (pers. comm. 2003) has counted about 10,000 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa. According to Wetlands International (2002), the total breeding population of the Asian Openbill in South Asia is 1,25,000 and the 1% population threshold is 1,250. Similarly, the total biogeographic population in South Asia of Black-tailed Godwit is 1,00,000 (Wetlands International 2002). With the sighting of 10,000 in Veeranam, it means that 10% of the population uses this IBA. Therefore, this site also qualifies A4i criteria. The Asian Openbill regularly forages in the lake and nests in the adjacent village Tiruchinapuram. According to the locals, Spotbilled Pelicans Pelecanus philippensis also visit the lake in small numbers especially during summer when the water level is reduced. Altogether, 54 species have been recorded, of which 81% are waterbirds (Anand et al. 1997, Meganathan 2002).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: As the lake is surrounded by agricultural fields and human habitations, there are no large wild mammals of any conservation concern. The lake is rich source of many commercial fish such as Anabas testudines, Channa punctatus, Mastacembelus armatus and Mystus tenegra, (Anand 1999, Bharathi 2002).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Veeranam Lake. Downloaded from on 25/05/2020.