Chilika lake, in Odhisa is Asia’s largest salt water lagoon. It is spread over an area of 1165 sq km and is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sandy ridge. It is truly an ecological wonder with a wide range of aquatic flora and fauna like rare dolphins and turtles. It is also best place in India for bird watching with both native and migrant birds who make Chilika their dwelling and breeding ground in the winter months.
The Uniqueness of Chilika Lake
Studded by picturesque tiny islands like the Honeymoon Island, Kalijai, Birds Island and Breakfast Island Chilika lake is one of the most important wetlands in the world.
In winters there can be no better place than Chilika for bird watching. White bellied sea eagles, ospreys, grey-legged geese, sand pipers, purple moorhen, jacana, herons and flamingos make it a bird watcher’s paradise. Chilika is in fact one of the world’s largest breeding colonies of flamingos. Its sheer pleasure to watch the fluttering birds in thousand different hues from a boat and in the islands. The Nalabana Island here covering about 16 declared a bird sanctuary in 1987 and is considered the hot spot for bird-watching.
Another big attraction here are dolphins. The endangered Irrawaddy or Snubfin dolphins can be often spotted off Satpada Island. Satpada, bounded by the lagoon on three sides offers a beautiful view to the visitors.The lake is also home to a diverse range of aquatic life like the limbless lizard, fishing cats and snakes.
It supports the local fisherman in earning their living from Chilika’s famous prawn, mackerel and crabs. While here visit the revered Kalijai Temple on an island in the Chilika Lake. Chilika lake is well known for the most scenic sunrises and sunsets too.
The lake is pleasant throughout the year and one can visit Chilka in any season other than maybe monsoons but the best time is from November to March as due to greater number of migratory birds here.
Stay and Food
There are various accommodation options here from tourist lodges, guest houses, budget to luxury resorts.
Reaching Chilika Lake
the nearest airport is Bhubhaneshwar at about 120 km away. Taxis and buses are available to the lake. The nearest rail stations is at Balugaon (5 kms away), on the Howrah-Chennai track, from where one can take a bus or taxi to Chilika.
Local transport is limited to three wheel rickshaws and auto rickshaws, or you ca hire a cab. You can explore the lake and the islands with local boatmen and the tourism department’s motorboats. No outboard motors are allowed near the bird scantuary. More information on Chilka can be obtained from the Government of Odisha Tourism Counter at the Tourist Bungalow in Rambha, Chilika.
Make a plan to visit Chilika lake this winters to witness the wonders of nature. Its a lake with bluish waters, lovely encircling hills, enthralling islands, colourful birds and floating clouds. It is best visited early in the mornings.
Feature Image source geoecoresorts.com