Southwest of Puri, Orissa
: Asia's Largest Wetland
: Peach Coloured Flamingoes, Grey-Legged Geese & Siberian Cranes
Just south of Puri, the sea mixes in with the 1100 sq.km inland Chilika Lake to create the largest brackish water lake in Asia. These shallow waters enclose an immense area of marshes, lowlands, and islands. There are more than 160 varieties of fish, and, in the winter season (from November through March), the area is home to hundreds of thousands of migratory birds as well.
The surrounding hills and sandy stretches abound in cheetals, blackbucks, monkeys, fishing cats, mongoose, and porcupines. At the channel meeting the sea, dolphins can be seen cavorting playfully. Snakes, turtles and lizards inhabit the surrounding beach area and wooded undergrowth.
A number of islands dot the expanse of the lake. Nalbana Island, because of its varied flora and fauna, forms the core of the Chilika sanctuary. Kalijai Island is home to the Goddess Kalijai, venerated by the local fisher folk. This island plays host to a huge fair on 'Makar Sankranti' held annually in the month of January. The large fishing community adds flavour to the lake with their traditional colourful sail boats bobbing expertly across the water, reminiscent of the ancient maritime heritage of Orissa. In fact, the fisher folk can be persuaded to take visitors on their boats.
Chilika is worth visiting the year round, however, the winter months, when the air reverberates with the din of the birds, are the nicest times. Barkul, Rambha, Balugaon and Satpada are the bases for visiting Chilika, where boats can be hired.
ATTRACTIONS WITHIN THE LAKE
A number of islands dot the expanse of the lake including Nalbana Island. Due to its varied flora and fauna, it forms the core of Chilika sanctuary.
It is a haven for the resident and migratory birds. One can watch the birds in their natural habitat here.
Kalijal Island is home to the Goddess Kalijai, and hosts a huge fair on Makar Sankranti annually in the month of January. Maa Kalijai is venerated by the local boatsmen.
Satapada is another retreat in nature on Chilika Lake, recently opened up to the tourists. With natural charm of being located near the confluence of Chilika and the ocean and for its proximity to Puri (48-km), Satapada is an ideal spot to enjoy Chilika Lake. The thrilling sight of Dolphins round the year and abundance of migratory and resident birds in winter make Satapada a preferred lace for a vacation with nature.
Parikud and Malud
They are colourful islands within the lake.
The place is known for its scenic beauty. The large fishing community adds local flavour to a trip to the lake. Their traditional colourful sailboats, bobbing expertly across the waters, bring back memories of the ancient maritime heritage of the Kalinga Sadhavas.
The lake hourbours the "aquatic vegetation" of its own and is typically represents by Algal forms (e.g. Chaetomorpha and Enteromorpha widely distributed algae followed by Lyngbya, Ulva, Cladophora and others like Gloeocapsa, Nostoc, Sprigyra, Oedogonium, Chara, Nitella, Gracilaria etc.), a number of Diatoms/Phytoplanktons and a few species of brackish water submerged phanerogams like Potamogeton pectinatus, Halophila ovalis, Ruppia maritima, Naja faveolata, Hydrilla verticellata and Ceratophyllum demersum etc. Some floating plants like Eichhornia crassipes, Pistia stratiotes and Azolla pinnata etc. enter the like with flood water but disappear after a few months. The communities of Schoenoplectus littoralis in association with Eleocharis dulce, Phragmites karka, Myrostachya wightii & many other grasses and sedges also exist in shallow muddy areas.
Species like Salicornia brachiata, Suaeda maritima, Sesuvium portulacastrum, Phyla nodiflora, Heliotropium curassavicum & some others occur in marshes and salt fields along the edges and other shallow areas. The present scanty littoral and scrub jungles on lake margin, islands and rocky faces are represented by the species like Salvadora presica, Pongamia pinnata, Colubrina asiatica, Cassipourea ceylonica, Aegiceras corniculatum, Azima tetracantha, Pisonia aculeata, Clerodendron inerme, Carmona retusa, Carissa spinarumm, Crateva spinarumm, Meytinus emarginatus, Opuntia dillenii, Ficus sps., Crateva adansonii spp., Lepisanthes tetraphylla, Streblus asper etc. and a number of climbers/twinners and herbaceous ground flora. The dunes & sandy areas of the beaches near lake have the floral composition of their own, favoured in the conditions they offer. The land lying between Sea and Lagoon exhibits rich growth of casuarina equisetifolia, planted by Forest Dept.
There is a wide varity of animal life forms representing various groups of Animal Kingdom (ranging from Protozoa, Porifera, Polyzoa, Brachiopoda, Coelenterata, Ctenophora, Isopoda, Echiura, Sipuncula, Chaetognatha, Platyhelminthes, Annelida, Crustacea, Arachinida, Insecta, Mollusca to Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mamals). The more details of some of these fauna arefurnished here.
Around 158 species of fishes and prawns have so far been recorded.Crabs like Scylla serrata & Neptunus pelagicus are the predominent types available here. Oyster (e.g. Ostrea talpur, Arca, Meretix etc.) occurs in small patches. Nearabout countless types of Amphibians Reptiles viz. Snakes, Lizards, Turtles & Crocodiles. Discovery of Limbless skink (Barakudia insularis), a rare reptile which was reported first time from loose soil of Barakudia island by Annandale (1917), attaches much significance to this place.
The Dolphins have been reported mostly near Satapada-Magarmukha area and occasionally between Kalijai and Balugaon. Other mammals reported from small pockets in the surrounding hlls/forests/scattered islands & amidst the vegetation of sandy ridge facing Chilika and Sea include Black bucks (Antilope cervicara), Spotted deer, Fox,
How To Get There
Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport, situated 105-km from Barkul, 130-km from Rambha and 110-km from Satpada. Indian Airlines has flights from Delhi , Calcutta , Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Hyderabad , Mumbai and Chennai.
The Calcutta-Chennai rail route of South Eastern Railway touches Chilika Lake at Balugaon, Chilika, Khallikote and Rambha. The nearest railway Station for Barkul is at Balugaon (5-km) and for Satpada, at Puri (50-km).
The Chennai bound National Highway No.5 linking Calcutta-Cuttack-Bhubaneswar-Balugaon-Barkul-Rambha-Berhampur and Visakhapatnam runs along the lake. OTDC and other private tour operators provide luxury coaches and cars from Puri and Bhubaneswar.
Best time to visit
The weather remains moderately warm the whole year round, so come any time of the year except during the rainy season from June to September. The best time, however, is from October to March, when the lake is crowded with migrating birds, usually at least 50-70 species. Pilgrims flock here in January during Makar Mela (at the time of Makar Sankranti) to pay obeisance to the Goddess Kalijai, whose temple is situated on Kalijai island in Chilka Lake.
There are a few hotels on the banks of the lake including an OTDC run hotel and two tourist bungalows (the `Panthnivas' at Rambha and Barkul) that have stunning views and a relaxed vacation ambience.
A number of state-run as well as privately-operated resthouses and tourist lodges also dot the shores of the lake, and tariffs vary considerably, depending upon the facilities offered.