Chilika is Asia’s largest inland brackish lagoon. The water is clear blue and it is surrounded by lush green hills. Diverse varieties of birds, animals, aquatic creatures and reptiles are found.
The best time to visit this place is between October to June. The boat rides from Balugaon, barkul, Rambha and Satpada offer breathtaking views. One cannot afford to miss these rides.
Chilika is an important wetland among various others in the world. It is home to a very vast variety of birds. The peak season of migration of the birds is between November and February. During this time, people can see thousands of different colored wings and hear massive twittering and chirping throughout the lake. It is found that over 160 species of birds migrate to this place.
There is an island close by called the Nalabana Island. It was declared a bird sanctuary in the year 1987. It covers an area of 16 square kilometers. The core area covers an area of 9 kilometers. Around 400,000 waterfowls of different species are attracted to this place annually. The island remains submerged during summers and gradually emerges at the onset of winters.
Satpada island is surrounded by the lagoon on three sides. It has a 30 kilometers stretch of sand bar which attracts a lot of visitors. The boats are arranged by OTDC. The fishermen whose lives depend on the lake are rewarded with prawns, mackerel and crabs. A major attraction of this spot is the Irrawady Dolphins which are spotted off the Satpada island.
The bird count has gone down in recent years. This is due to many factors such as rise in prawn farming, silting and reduced salinity. Use of mechanized boats, increased number of various fishing nets ad gears have also proved as threats.
Places to visit:
Chilika has many small islands. They have exotic sightseeing locations. Boats provided by OTDC can be hired which are made at Barkul and Rambha. There is another island named Nalbana also referred to as the ‘Bird Island’. It is a delight for the avid bird lovers. Many migratory birds fly over to this place as well as it is a natural habitat for many species. Other major islands include Phulbari, Parikud, Nuapara and Tampara. A temple called Kalijai is also located on the island. It is the shrine of goddess Kalijai. Many people come to attend the Makar Mela. A lot of peacocks are found on the island.
There a particular spot within the lake called as the ‘Dolphin Point’. Irrawady and bottle-nosed dolphins are found here. There are other islands present such as the Breakfast Island, Honeymoon Island and Beacon Island. A village nearby was inhabited by the poachers. It is called Mangalajodi.
Nirmaljhara is another favorite tourist destination. It consists of a perennial stream flowing into a number of ponds. People who are fond of swimming can take a dip in any of the ponds. A close by place is Banapur which is famous for Bhagwati temples and markets.
Salia Dam is built across River Salia. One can also visit Narayani which is famous for a temple amidst scenic backgrounds.
How to reach
By air: Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport which is 105 Km from Barkul and 130 Km from Rambha and 110 Km from Satapada. Indian Airlines has flights from Delhi, Calcutta, Visakhapatnam, raipur, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai.
By rail: 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 Satapada, at Puri (50 Km).
By road: The Chennai bound NH5 linking Calcutta-Cuttack-Bhubaneswar-Balugaon-Barkul-Rambha-Berhampur and Visakhapatnam runs along the lake. Buses and taxis to Chilika are available at Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Berhampur.