Largest Brackish Water Lagoon: Chilika Lake of Orissa

In this article I have explained about Chilika lake which is the largest bracksih water lagoon its geographical location and area, about the types of plants and animals,how it is a source of income for the local peoples, its attractive islands that attracts thousands of visitors,Nalabana bird sanctuary and about the other attractive places of Chilika.

Chilika lake is situated between190.38' and 190.54' North latitude and 850.54' and 850.38' East longitude. It is the largest brackish water lagoon spread over an area of 1100sqkms of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Orissa. Any visits to Odisha by outsiders remain incomplete without a visit to Chilika which in itself remained a favourite destination. It is at the mouth of Daya River following into the Bay of Bengal and it is the second largest lagoon in the World. Chilka Lake is one of the best bird watching spots in India, and is also popular for fishing and angling. Apart from these it is a very important centre for study the bio-diversity.

With unique flora and fauna, the lake is the home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals. It has a highly productive eco-system having rich fish resource. It sustains more than 150,000 fisher–folk living in 132 villages on the shore and islands.

The lake hosts over 160 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Birds from as far 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. These birds travel possibly up to 12,000 km distance to reach the destination. According to a survey, 45 percent of the birds are terrestrial in nature, 32 percent are waterfowl where as 23 percent are waders. The Irrawaddy Dolphins are also located here, which are the unique features of this beautiful lagoon. The lakes echo with 14 species of raptors and 37 species of reptiles and amphibians.

Chilika can be approached from Balugaon, 100kms away from the capital on the National Highway No.5 connecting Kolkata with Chennai. The lake has numerous islands. The islands are separated by shallow channels, which lie between the barrier and the main body of the lake connect the lake with Bay of Bengal. The six major islands are Parikud, Phulbari, Berahpura, Nuapara, Nalbana, and Tampara. It also attracts visitors to its island like Kalijai, Somolo, Honeymoon, Breakfast, Birds and Rajahansa.

The island Nalabana declared as a bird Sanctuary in 1973 under the Wildlife Protection Act, which is the core area of the Ramsar designated wetlands of Chilika Lake. Nalabana in oriya language means that a weed covered island. This island gets completely submerged during the monsoon season. As the monsoon recedes in winter birds flocks to the island in large number to feed on its extensive mudflats. It is the one of the major attraction to Chilika.
Besides the other attraction within the lake are

Birds Island for resident and migratory birds,
Kalijai abode of the Goddess Kalijai,
Satapada for cavorting dolphins,
Bramhapur a place of scenic beauty,

The floating restaurants are serves as the best place for the mixing business with leisure. Rambha which is just 15kms from Barkul is another place where the visitors can stay to have water sports in Chilika. Satapada offers the excellent view of the lake with playful Irrawaddy Dolphins.

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