Free Press Journal

Cherish your experience at Chilka Lake

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A placid water body set amidst the dramatic landscape of Odisha is the Chilka Lake. The serene waters and rich flora, fauna make this lagoon a top notch tourist destination every traveller needs to explore. It is a brackish (salt) water lagoon which spreads across Puri, Khurda and Ganjam, districts in Odisha, a state in the east of India.


It begins at the mouth of Daya River and flows into the Bay of Bengal. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world. The lake covers a distance of 1165 sq km m in monsoon and 906 sq km when it’s dry. It is an ecosystem with massive fishery resources and has more than 150,000 fisher folk living in 132 villages across the shore and islands.

Picture credits: Sambit 1982 / Wikipedia

Picture credits: Sambit 1982 / Wikipedia


The arena is full of amazing aquatic flora, fauna which includes around 158 species of fishes and prawns, also crabs, crocodiles, snakes, lizards and turtles. Chilka Lake is one of the best bird watching spots in India, and is also popular for fishing and angling.

Chilka is recognized as one of the most important wetlands in the world since it is home to a variety of migratory birds and therefore was designated under the Ramsar Convention in 1981. The lake offers a mesmerizing display of its avian charms and reed islands with birds like white bellied sea eagles, ospreys, golden plovers, sand pipers, flamingos, pelicans, shovellers, and gulls.

Picture credits:  www.lohanatoursindia.com

Picture credits: www.lohanatoursindia.com

Birds from remote areas such as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and Southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come here.

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) surveyed the lake between 1985 and 1988 and identified 800 species of fauna, including many rare, endangered, threatened and vulnerable species, but excluding terrestrial insects.

Places to visit around Chilka Lake are

Kalijai Temple

It is situated on an island in the Chilka Lake and is one of the famous attractions here. The deity of this temple is Goddess Kalijai and is highly revered among the locals in their folklores and fables. The island itself is a soothing location and can be accessed via boat from Chilka Lake.

Kalijai Temple Picture credits: www.indiamike.com

Kalijai Temple
Picture credits: www.indiamike.com

Nalabana Island

It is a large island which covers 16 sq km of the lagoon and was declared a bird sanctuary Wildlife Protection Act in 1987. It is an attraction to 400,000 waterfowls of different species. However the island is submerged underwater during monsoon and gradually emerges in summer. It is a paradise for bird- watchers.

Nalabana Island Picture credits: indianwanderers.wordpress.com

Nalabana Island
Picture credits: indianwanderers.wordpress.com

Puri

It is a holy city famous for its Jagannath temple built in the 11th century. The other attraction here is the beach which is great for some exotic experience laying in sun and sand.

Shri Jagannath Temple, Puri  Picture credits: Abhishek Barua / Wikipedia

Shri Jagannath Temple, Puri
Picture credits: Abhishek Barua / Wikipedia

Nirmaljhar Waterfall

It is located 12 km from Chilka Lake and is a perfect picnic spot with a tantalizing landscape.

Satpada

It is situated at a distance of 55 km from Puri on the eastern side of Chilka Lake with the lagoon surrounded on three sides making it an amazing tourist destination for those seeking solitude. The Irrawady dolphins are another attraction here which can’t be missed.

Rambha Bay

It is situated at the southern end of the lake and is basically a group of islands which include The Beacon Island, The Breakfast Island and Honeymoon Island. All of these have significant amount of things to explore and are hence a must visit.

The other places which are equally important to capture Chilka Lake to the fullest are Somolo and Dumkudi Islands, Bird’s Island, Parikud, Barunkuda, Manikpatna, and Mangalajodi.

Sand-bar and Mouth of the lake are an unexplored stretch of empty beach which separates the lake from the sea.

Picture credits: Anirban Biswas / Wikipedia

Picture credits: Anirban Biswas / Wikipedia

There are many excursions carried out here which include Gopalpur on Sea which is a beach turned into a popular tourist spot. The others include Taptapani a hot spring, Banpur and Narayani which are temples.

The eco-tourism here is expected to provide an alternate employment to the locals who reside here. However, over the years, Chilka has encountered various problems and threats like shrinkage of water surface area, decline of biodiversity and a lot more. Free press Journal requests its readers to come forward and take an initiative to safeguard a haven like this so that it can be sustained.