The temple at Maneshwar has a pokhari (traditional water tank). According to the local people, there are about one thousand adult turtles and innumerable juveniles in the pokhari, which covers about 2.5-3 ha. This water tank is attached to the temple and fulfils all the water requirements of the temple and other domestic needs of surrounding population. The water tank is surrounded by the temple on one side and an earthen bund on three sides, with stone made embankments at two places for use. However, there are some submerged rock surfaces inside the water tank specially favoured by turtles for sunbathing. During winters, decreased water level exposes the surrounding surface and hundreds of basking turtles can be observed. This three-century-old temple was built by King Balaram; the present population are the descendents of a few turtles released by King Balaram at the time of the temple construction.
Though turtles are protected through religious belief, many people love them and want them to live safely in the pond. The turtles are an important component of the pond freshwater ecosystem, as they feed on decaying material, thereby cleaning the water. They are an important link in the food chain. In these tanks there is a symbiotic association between turtles and humans, where turtles get protection and in turn keep the water clean.
The people of Maneshwar have played an important role in conservation of these turtles. Here turtles get religious importance, affection, devotion and protection. Though this is due to religious beliefs attached to this species, it is proving effective in conservation of this otherwise vulnerable species. People believe that whoever kills or eats turtles from the temple pokhari will suffer misfortune, and therefore nobody dares to hurt them. Instead people feed these turtles on temple bhog, puffed rice, biscuits, etc. The turtles are a special attraction for devotees coming here. Some regular visitors and permanent residents of the temple have developed a deep understanding of the turtle behaviour, which could help in scientific assessment and conservation of this species.
The banks of the pokhari work as a nesting ground for the turtles, ensuring survival of the population. The banks of this pokhari are also devoid of disturbances like cattle-washing, which ensures protection of eggs. This pokhari is connected to the river Malatijhor by water channels. A water canal adjacent to the pokhari is attached to the river. There is a network of water canals meant for irrigation in the village. This network allows movement of turtles outside the tank during the rainy season when the water level is high. This also ensures exchange of the gene pool, as the turtles are not confined only to the pokhari. If anyone finds a turtle in the nearby area (generally in rainy season turtles disperse in nearby agricultural fields), they come and release them into the temple tank. The tank is facing a natural aging process through accumulation of silt and debris; this is resulting in reduced water-holding capacity. The temple committee is proposing renovation of the tank by removing accumulated debris and silt. However the renovation work is pending, as the committee is concerned about the well-being of the turtles. They fear that cleaning and excavation operation will cause harm to the turtles and their breeding grounds. They are considering a phasewise renovation of the tank in order to ensure minimal harm to the turtles.