Travel Odisha

Chilika – Get an amazing travel experience in the beautiful lake

You might have desired a thrilling boating experience in a lake. Now imagine you are boating on India’s largest coastal lagoon surrounded by Irrawady dolphins and a view of beautiful migratory birds. Isn’t that amazing? Well, you can capture these experiences in reality in the place called Chilika lake.

If you are planning for Chilika, make sure you’re prepared by reading the rest of this article. In this article, we’ll be going over everything you need to have a safe, successful trip, no matter why you’re taking it.

Why Chilika lake is famous?

The word Chilika is derived from Chila, which means Brahminy kite. Chilika lake is a natural brackish water Lagoon on the east coast of India. It is spread over 1,100 square k.m. covering Puri, Korda, and Ganjam districts in Odisha.

Chilika is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second-largest brackish water lake globally. It is also the winter destination for migratory birds in the Indian subcontinent.

Chilika lake

Chilika’s importance in social-economic and cultural life

The lagoon plays a crucial role in the social-economic and cultural life of people living in and around it.

The fisheries resources of Chilika sustain more than two lakh fisherfolk residing in 132 villages on the shore and islands. It also plays a role in preserving its genetic diversity.

Importance of Chilika for local villages

Chilika a wetland

Chilika has pride in the wetlands of India. It was the first Indian wetland declared as a wetland of international importance under the IUCN sponsored Ramsar convention in 1981.

It has over a million migratory waterfowl, winter shorebirds, and more than 1% of the biogeographical population of 45 species.

wetland of Chilika

Survey in Chilika

A recent survey has revealed no less than 726 flowering plants belonging to 496 genera and 120 families. The total represents about one-fourth of the 2,900 vascular plant species recorded in Odisha.

Fabaceae is the most dominant plant, followed by Poaceae and Cyperaceae. The flora consists of predominantly aquatic and sub-aquatic plants.

 Fabaceae, Poaceae and Cyperaceae

You can find dolphins, amphibians, and reptiles all over the lagoon, islands, and adjacent areas. 

The thick grass growth in the northeastern lagoon is a breeding place of president birds such as coots, moorhens, jacana, Stilts, and Duck cheeks.

In addition to that, you can also see prey birds like white-bellied sea eagles and kites nesting on the top of trees. These birds are usually found in the islands and the sandbar between the lagoon and the sea.

wildlife of Chilika

More often, birds in the sanctuary use the middle of the lagoon as their breeding place. You can also spot some reptiles on the island inside the lagoon and on the shore.

Irrawaddy dolphins found in Chilika lake

Many people revere the dolphins and consider them a blessing from God. The lagoon harbours a viable population of Irrawaddy dolphins categorized at a schedule one of the wildlife Protection Act 1972 and with vulnerable status under IUCN.

You can easily spot Irrawaddy Dolphins in the outer channel near Satpada. The lagoon bounce of Sipakuda, and Gabakunda, where the sea eps out and flows in, attracting visitors.

Irrawaddy dolphins

Recently the dolphins contributed to the native people’s income through dolphin watching tours. These dolphins are culturally and economically important to the local community.

Olive ridley sea turtle in Chilika

The Olive Ridley sea turtle is the smallest among all sea turtles and is placed under the endangered category according to the IUCN Red Databook. 

Due to tremendous pressure on their habitat, this species is protected under schedule one of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Olive ridley sea turtle

These turtles are known to nest sporadically on the coastline of Chilika, even though mass nesting or arribada is rare to see.

It has an impressive onshore congregation, which means the coastline of Chilika possesses excellent feeding or a breeding ground for these Turtles.

Turtles found in Chilika

Nalabana bird sanctuary

The island occupies a unique place in the vast expanse of Chilika Lake. It is the centrifuge point for migratory birds. Hence, it was declared a bird sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act in 1987.

In the heart of the park, you can see thousands of birds descending during the migratory season. The island usually disappears during the monsoon due to inundation.

source: Gopinath Chandda

Amazing Species of Birds in Chilika

The Nalabana island is home to long-legged wading birds like lesser flamingos, grey herons, goliath herons, purple herons, egrets, spoonbills painted storks, and black-headed ibis.

You will be lucky to see some of the rare birds reported in the lake. Those rare birds are Asiatic Dowitcher, Dalmatian pelicans, Pallas fish Eagles, spoon-billed sandpiper, and spot-billed Pelicans.

Birds found in Chilika

The white-bellied sea eagle, pariah kite, Brahminy kite, kestrels, Marsh Harriers, and the world’s most widespread Peregrine falcon are among the raptors you can see here.

You can also see many short-legged shorebirds like Plovers, Collared Pratincole, Ruff, Dunlin, Snipes, and Sandpipers. These birds can be seen in a narrow band along the shifting shores of the lake and islands.

Birds found in Chilika

Larks, Wagtails, and Lapwing seem on the mudflats. Stilts and Godwit feed in the deeper waters. If you visit the higher vegetated areas, you can see Moorhens, coots, and Jacanas in the lake.

You can see pond herons and night herons with Kingfishers and Rollers along the shore. You can also spot little cormorants on perches around the lake.

Some regularly spotted birds you can see here are compact flocks of Bramhiny ducks, Shovellers, Pintails, Gadwalls, Teals, Pochards, Geese, and coots.

Birds found in Chilika

Apart from the Nalabana bird sanctuary, you can see plenty of migratory birds in and around Mangalajodi village under the Tangi wildlife range.

Mangalajodi – Chilika Lagoon

Mangalajodi is a small village in the northern part of Chilika Lagoon. The locality protects the birds and promotes bird-watching.

The shallow water region of Chilika is predominantly a freshwater zone. Therefore, the fringe of this village has marshes with aquatic vegetation and reed beds that support migratory and resident birds. (Red bed: natural habitats found in floodplains, waterlogged depressions, and estuaries).

A pleasant surprise is found when you take a stroll along the footpath in the early morning. If you are someone who loves bird-watching, Mangalajodi is a place for you. 

source: Tripper Bijay

Temples and Islands in Chilika

Temples like Kalijai and Bhabakundaleswar give Chilika Lagoon a distinctive spiritual ambience. If you are a worldly-minded person, you can visit honeymoon, breakfast, and Somolo islands.

The confluence of the river Bhargabi, Daya, and Luna with the lagoon is also an attraction for tourists.

Temples and Islands in Chilika

Rajhans Island

Another enticing location is Rajhans. An island, touching Chilika lake on one side and Bay of Bengal on the other side with forest and mountains in between.

Named after the beautiful bird, this island on the confluence of Chilika Lake and the Bay of Bengal is an 18-kilometre boat ride across the Chilika from Satapada.

Its sandy shores are lined with casuarina trees and dotted crabs all around. Birds, crabs, dolphins, with other wild and water life, roam here freely and calmly.

source: Satya Bhanja

Accommodation in Chilika

The beautiful eco-tourism cottages with dining facilities make it a wholesome package for the tourists in Berhampur-Mahisa Island. 

In addition, a boat ride from Satpada to this island gives the tourists a rare opportunity to savour the beauty of Chilika in all its myriad hues. 

How to reach Chilika?

Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport from Chilika. Chilika is 100 k.m. from Bhubaneswar and 110 k.m. from Satapada. You can reach Chilika by road or train from Bhubaneswar.

Balugaon town, close to Chilika, is the nearest railway station. Balugaon is approximately 100 km from Bhubaneswar and 80 km from Berhampur.

Taxis and cabs are available 24/7 from Bhubaneswar and Berhampur. You can hire and make your journey comfortable.

Source: Go2india.in

Conclusion

Now that you’ve gone over everything you might need to know before you take your trip, you’re ready to go and have fun!

Travelling can be a lot of fun and a productive thing to do. Whatever your reason, it’s always important to be safe and prepared. Have a great trip!

Frequently asked questions

how to reach chilika lake from puri?
  • Chilika is 37 k.m far from Puri. There are several ways you can reach Chilika. Firstly, you can travel by bus, taxi, or cab by road. Secondly, you can travel by train to Balugaon. From Balugaon you can book a taxi or auto for Chilika.
Where do I stay in Chilika?
  • You can find N number of hotels in Chilika. However, for convenience book online.
Places to visit in chilika
  • Chilika lake, Rajhans island, Mangalajodi, Kalijai and Bhabakundaleswar temple, Nalabana bird sanctuary, honeymoon, somolo, and breakfast island, and the most important is Satapada for dolphins.
What are some other travel places in Odisha?

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