About Chilika Lake and its Geographical Topology
Chilika Lake, the world's Second largest Brackish Lake (Salt Lake) is popularly known as Natural Bird Sanctuary. The natural beauty and favourable climate is the important attraction for migratory birds to make their shelter here in winter season. It is also a home of a great number of endangered sea flora and fauna. Being a large resource of fishery, Chilika is always an important livelihood source for the nearby villagers. Presence of number of islands, its natural beauty and arrival of migratory birds in winter makes the lake a great tourist place for natural lovers.
The 1100 Sq. Km. lake is spread over three major districts of Odisha, I.e. Ganjam, Khorda and Puri. It is India's largest coastal lagoon or Brackish Lake. Chilika Lake is the sallowest lake, whose highest depth measures at 13.8 ft (4.2m) only in rainy season. The lake is divided into four zones namely the Southern, Central, Northern and Outer Channel. The lake is connected to the Bay of Bengal through its 32 Km. Outer Channel at Arakhuda Village. The North Shore of the lake is in Khorda Dist. whereas the Southern in Ganjam Dist.
Historical facts of Chilika Lake
History says that Chilika Lake was an important harbor/port for maritime commerce of ancient Odisha. Excavations were conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India in important points of the lake at different phases provide concrete evidence of maritime activities. The excavations also state that Golabai of Khorda Dist. situated in the shore of island was a boat building centre of ancient Odisha. The name of Chilika Lake and its maritime commercial importance was found in Puranas and in the writings of foreign authors like Fa-Hien and Hiuen-Tsang. It is also alleged that the lake was a shelter for ships sailing to Java, Malaya, Singhala, China and other countries. In remembrance of the earlier maritime, the villagers around the lake still observe festival "Bali Yatra".
Main attractions of Chilika Lake
In reality, the natural beauty of Chilika as a whole is an attraction for nature lovers. But the presence of islands like Kalijai, Satapada, Nalabana etc. makes the place more interesting for tourists. Tourists not only of India but also from outside come here to enjoy the natural beauty especially during winter.
Nalbana Bird Sanctuary at Chilka LakeNalabana Bird Sanctuary is located in the Nalabana Island, which is named after the sanctuary. It is a main attraction for tourists during winter season. The island is situated in the wetland area of the centre of the lake measuring area of 15 Square Km. Migratory birds like the Lesser Flamingos, Goliath Heron, Grey herons, and Purple herons, Egrets, Spoonbills, Storks etc. arrive to the place during monsoon from the far away Russia, Mongolia, Central and Southeast Asia. A great number of photographers both national and abroad come here for a snapshot of the birds for the cover page of their magazines.
Kalijai Island and Temple of Goddess Kalijai at Chilka LakeActually the name of the island is named after Goddess Kalijai.Local people worship the Goddess as the reigning deity of the lake. It is situated only at a distance of 2 KM from INS Chilika, a Naval base. The island is an excellent destination for pilgrims as well as tourists. On the day of Makar Sankranti, a grand fair and festival is organized here. Boat facility is available from balugaon to reach the island. Now Steamer and Launch facility is also created from the Naval base to reach the island.
Satapada and Dolphins at Chilka LakeSatapada, a group of seven villages is situated on Chilika at a distance of 50 km. from Puri . It is home for irrawaddy dolphins. Facilities are there for boating, canoeing and kayaking. People often visit here to enjoy this facilities and for a glimpse of dolphins.
How to reach at Chilika Lake?
One can reach Chilika and to its various points both by Bus and train.
A station named after the lake is the nearest railway station. It is about 70km away from the capital of Odisha, Bhubaneswar. The other stations are Balugaon, Rambha railway station.
Chilika is well connected by road through NH-5. One can reach here easily from Bhubaneswar by bus.
More articles: Tourist Places of Odisha