Chilika Lake brackish water lagoon rich in plants and some exquisite, rare and even endangered animals, 800 species of fauna, migratory birds & Irrawady dolphins.
The state of Odisha is endowed with the bounty of nature. It is famous for its picturesque beaches. The Chilika Lake, a brackish water lagoon spread over Puri, Ganjam and Khurda districts of Odisha adds to the beauty of the place. It is situated at the mouth of the Daya River flowing in the Bay of Bengal. Tourists who come to visit Puri always make sure that they take trip to the Chilika Lake.
A lagoon is a water body which is separated from the larger water body by barrier islands or reefs. These are common coastal features present all around the world. Basically there exists two types of lagoons namely coastal lagoons and atoll lagoons. The Chilika Lake of Odisha falls under the category of coastal lagoons. It is a natural lagoon but they can also be artificial, made for wastewater treatment.
About the Chilika Lake
Studies show that the coastline extended along the western shores of the lake with its western region lying under the sea. The shift of the seashore along the Konark Sun Temple has shifted 3km away from the shore. The river Daya and various other streams are responsible for the deposition of around 1.5 million metric tons of sediment per year. The split of Chilika is believed to have been caused by the sudden rise in sea level 7,000 years ago. Thus the sandy beach gradually progressed seaward to the northeast and formed the spit of Chilika. The white bands of corals in the southern sector indicate that the lake was once marine and the water was much deeper than what its now.
The lake has several islands in it. The north shore of the lake is a part of the Khorda district and the south shore is a part of the Ganjam district.
History of Chilika Lake
The Chilika Lake has a rich historical background. Geological evidences indicate that it was a part of the Bay of Bengal in the Pleistocene period. It also functioned as a trade and commerce site. Golabai provides evidence of a sequence of the culture and nature of work in the Chilika region. Many woodworking adzes and other artifacts have been found and thus indicated that Golabai was an important maritime trading spot.
The king of Kalinga was also acknowledged as the ‘Lord of the Sea’ when the southern sector of Chilika was a flourishing maritime commerce center. Ancient texts suggest that the Chilika Lake provided shelter to ships sailing to Java, Malaya, China and other countries.
In the year 1803, Britishers reached Puri via the shores of the lake and occupied Odisha.
Flora and Fauna around Chilika Lake
The lake is rich in plants and some exquisite, rare and even endangered animals. The Zoological Survey of India has identified 800 species of fauna here. The lake is also a home to various migratory birds and is the largest wintering ground for the too. It is an ecosystem with large fishery resources. The Chilika Lake sustains a decent amount of fisherman folk in the region.
The most dominant plant found in here is Fabaceae. It is also one of the hotspots of biodiversity in the country. Some of the prominent migratory birds include flamingos, Indian roller, storks, pintails, white bellied sea eagles and many more.
Another major attraction of this lake is the wonderful sight of dolphins in between boat tours. It is a home to the Irrawady dolphin which is the only known population of that species in India.
Tourist Attractions near Chilika Lake
This island was declared a bird sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1973. The island disappears during the monsoons as it gets submerged in water and then appears during the post-monsoon time. The island has a varied variety of flora and fauna. It is a favourite spot for tourists for enjoying birth watching.
This serene waterfall is located 12km away from Chilika. According to folklore the meaning of Nirmal is pure and that of jhar is stream. This stream is indeed a pure stream. It provides the perfect background for picyures. Smt. Sugyani Devi, a Khallikote princess is making efforts to promote this is a tourist spot.
The holy city of Puri is a major tourist and pilgrimage destination. This city experiences a huge tourist traffic every year. The city is famous for its celebrated temple, The Jagannath Temple. Another major tourist destination here are the beaches. The beaches are also famous among pilgrims. Devotees believe that a dip in the holy waters of the sea will open door for heaven.
This beautiful place is 55km away from Puri. It is surrounded by lagoons from three sides. Satapada is famous among nature enthusiasts. Pictures, greenery, beautiful scenes and landscapes are some of the few things hosted by this place.
Chilika Lake is famous for its ferry rides accompanied by the sight of dolphins. It also hosts eco-tourism. This has provided the locals a chance for alternative employment and has spread awareness about the conservation and wise use of the resources of the lake.
A Tourist’s Guide & Important Information about Chilika Lake
The lake is 61.8km away from the capital city of Odisha i.e. Bhubaneswar which is also the nearest airport from there. It is at a distance of 37km from Puri. The Chilika Lake is well connected to Chennai and Kolkata through National Highway No.5. A number of busses, taxis and pay cars are available for the smooth sail of the tourists.
Hotels are easily available nearby. A wide range of hotels are also available online for the tourist to sort and decide.
The lake is open on all days of the week from 6am to 7pm. No entry fee is levied on the visitors. The visiting duration is in between 2 to 3 hours.
A trip to Chilika Lake is a must for every tourist visiting Odisha. Its calmness has the power to engulf one’s mind, body and soul and thus gives a person a wholesome refreshing experience.