Saturday, July 20, 2024

Tourism      Lakes and Gardens      Orissa     Puri    

Chilika Lake

Spread across the districts Puri, Khurdha and Ganjam in Orissa State

Designated as 'Ramsar Site'

Best Season

October to early June

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Located to the South West of Puri, in Orissa, Chilika Lake is the largest brackish water lake in Asia studded with small islands, separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sandy ridge. Covering an area over 1,100 sq. km., the lake is spread across the districts of Puri, Khurdha and Ganjam along the east coast at the mouth of the Daya River. It attracts a large number of tourists for fishing, bird watching and boating.

Enclose an immense area of marshes, lowlands, and islands, Chilika lake is considered to be as one of the hotspots of bio-diversity. In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated as 'Ramsar Site' i.e; the first Indian wetland of international importance under the International Ramsar Convention.

The largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world, Chilika is about 70 km by 20 km and 4 to 5 feet deep. The Lake is dotted with number of islands. Kalijai island, Breakfast island, Nalabana, Honeymoon island, Parikud island and Birds island are some of the beautiful islands around the lake. Among them, the Nalaban Island is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act. Spread over 15 Sq. Kms, Nalaban Island is the the central point for the migratory birds. One can enjoy boating and fishing at this island. Kalija island is famous as a centre of religious worship of Goddess Kalijai, an incarnation of Goddess Kali where a big fair is held on the occasion of Makar Sankranti in January every year.

The site was designated as Ramsar site in 1991 due its rich bio diversity. Chilika is home to the rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals and rare species of aquatic and non aquatic plants and animals. 

According to the Zoological Survey of India, over 800 species have so far been found on this lake. The Lagoon is a highly productive ecosystem, with rich fishery resources. The total number of fish species are reported to be 225. The rich fishing ground sustain the livelihood of more than 0.15 million fisherfolk who live in and around the Lagoon. Moreover, it is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl in Indian subcontinent. Flocks of about 700,000 to 900,000 migratory waterfowl like the flamingo, teal, bar headed goose, shoveller and white - bellied sea eagle arrive from Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea, remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and South East Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas during October and return in March. 

Chilika is also a home to the only known population of the critically endangered species Irrawaddy dolphins in India and one of only two lagoons in the world. These have been reported mostly near Satapada-Magarmukha area and occasionaly between Kalijai and Balugaon. Other mammals reported from small pockets in the surrounding hills/islands include Black bucks, Spotted deer, Fox, Jackal, Hyena, Jungle Cat, Hare, Cat, Pachyura, Otter, Common Mongoose, Squirrel, Monkey, Porcupine etc.

Recently an eco-tourism project has been started with the help of the Chilika Lake Development Authority (CLDA). They maintains the eco-systems, development and activities of the Lagoon. CLDA constructed a walkway and a watchtower near the village. One has to take permission from CLDA to enter from any of its designated entry points.

Boating on Chilika Lake

Motorised yatch and speed boat services are available from OTDC. One can also hire a sea kayak from Orrisa Tourism's Water Sports Complex to explore the Nalaban island.