Chilika Lake

Weather :

Timings : Anytime

Time Required : 2 to 3 hours

Entry Fee : No entry fee

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Chilika Lake, Puri Overview

Chilika Lake is the largest internal salt water lake in Asia, it is a paradise on earth for bird watchers and nature lovers. The pear-shaped lake is dotted with a few small islands and has fisheries and salt pans around its shore. The Chilika Lake also houses the most accommodating ecosystems in the world, which means that a wide assortment of flora and fauna can be spotted here. The lake offers a flamboyant display of a myriad of avian charms in all diverse hues and colours, ranging from the white-bellied sea eagles to flamingos, and from golden plovers to sandpiper

Along with the vibrant variety of birds: both native and migratory one, the enthralling lake also offers scenic views of sunrise and sunset and a host of other options to choose from. Attractions such as the Bird Island, Breakfast Island and Honeymoon Island are also frequented by tourists who visit the Chilika Lake. The lake also boasts of being one of the only two sites in the world where the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins can be spotted. The decent and affordable lodges available here are an added cherry on this already delightful cake. Visit this enchanting lake to spend a day in nature's company and experience tranquillity like never before.

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Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary

Since the lake is located on the east coast of India and has large water bodies, the place is a heaven for migratory and resident birds, and an equal delight for visitors, especially bird watchers, who stop by to have a look at these majestic creatures. The Chilika Lake Sanctuary is spread over an area of 1100 square kilometres and is home to a myriad of birds. This pear-shaped sanctuary is also one of the most visited sanctuaries in the state of Odisha. The Chilika Lake attracts an array of birds that choose this spot as their winter stopover, and come to visit this lake from as far as Iran, Siberia and Central Asia. The graylag geese, purple moorhen, flamingo, Brahminy Kite, spot-billed pelican, bar-headed goose, open-billed stork, pintail, king fisher, Egret, Avocet, gulls, tern, herons and white-bellied sea eagles are found here in large populations. In fact, the Chilika Bird Sanctuary is home to one of the largest breeding colonies of flamingos in the world.

Flora and Fauna at Chilika Lake

Other than these avifaunal species, the Chilika Lake also harbours a rich variety of wild animals, such as golden jackals, spotted deer, black buck and hyenas. The aquatic basin area houses over 225 species of fishes, including the well-known Chilka dolphin. Marine wildlife such as prawns and limbless lizards can also be spotted here. Apart from having a vibrant and dynamic variety of wildlife, the lake is also home to a healthy floral system that comprises of aquatic and non-aquatic plants. Visitors can spot rare and endangered species of all forms of flora here. In fact, it may interest you to know that the Chilika Lake is the most popular eco-tourism destination in the entire Odisha and is considered as a Ramsar site, because of the vast variety of endangered species that it provides shelter to.

Attractions at Chilika Lake

The lake offers a variety of different attractions that the tourists can explore to appreciate the beauty of nature in all its grandeur.

1. Bird Island: Ornithologists flock here in large numbers to witness birds in their natural habitat.
2. Nalabana: Nalabana is a huge island in the centre of the lake that gets completely submerged during the monsoon months. A designated bird sanctuary, the island is always full of the chirps of many resident birds and migratory visitors, who never fail to delight the onlooker.
3. Kalijai Island: Considered to be the abode of Goddess Kalijai, the temple that is located here has an interesting history to it. It is widely believed that a young girl named Kali, and her sister who later came here looking for her, were both drowned in this island and the residents vouch to have heard their cries. Upon the construction of a temple, the cries ceased, and since then, the place has had a significant religious value. The location is easily accessible via a boat from the Chilika Lake and is a must visit at the time of Makar Sankranti, when the Makar Mela takes place.  
4. Satapada: The Satapada Island, bounded by the lagoon on three sides, attracts the visitors because it is home to the flagship species of the Chilika Lake, the Irrawaddy dolphins. This island is one of the only two lagoons in the world where this endangered species can now be found. Tourists can easily reach this spot via boats arranged by OTDC.
5. Other islands, including the Breakfast Island, Beacon Island and Honeymoon Island are also popular attractions that tourist love to visit.

While looking for boats, ensure that you only travel on the ones that have been provided by OTDC, since other local boats do not have life jackets.

Best Time To Visit Chilika Lake

Undoubtedly, the best time to visit the Chilika Lake is the winter months of November to February, when the variety of migratory birds can be witnessed. In case you wish to visit the place at some other time, avoid the rainy season from June to September.

Traveling Around Chilika Lake

Auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are available to get around the place.  Water Scooters and Pedal Boats are available at this place. Drivers of speedboats might allow tourists to drive on request. The perfect time for boating is just before sunrise since the sunrise is very scenic from the horizon and birds are flying in all directions. At the Panthanivas, you can hire the Motorboats (10-Seater) for INR 550 per hour or the Speedboats (5-Seater) for INR 1650 per hour. Local boatmen will take you on a four-hour ride through the lake. Life jackets are not provided.

Stay Near Chilika Lake

To stay at the Chilika Lake itself is indeed a fantastic option since this enables you to enjoy the ambience of the place all day long. You can choose from the hotels on the banks of the lake, or the two tourist bungalows- Barkul and Panthnivas- to stay. Many state operated and private rest houses and tourist lodges are also available and are a good option to choose.

Sample Itinerary For Chilika Lake

Reach Chilika and check into a hotel. Hire a boat and set out to the Chilika Lake. For some travellers, safety might be a concern, however, the views more than make up for it. Visit the beautiful places for sightseeing such as Nalabana bird sanctuary, Mangalojodi, etc.. After a tour of the lake, have some delicious seafood at any nearby restaurant. With more time on your hands, you can go see Kalijai Islands and more religious places around. This trip is best combined with a visit to nearby places including Salia Dam which is built on River Salia and located amidst stunning locales. Banapur which is popular for Bhagawati Temple and markets is another beautiful place you can take a trip to. You can also visit Narayani which has a temple in picturesque surroundings of the Eastern Ghats.

Tips For Visiting Chilika Lake

1. Do not buy pearls or corals from Chilika lake. Fresh water Oysters are brought from Hyderabad & broken here to take out the cultured pearls. They try to sell them as natural pearls to tourists. The local sellers also sell fake "Black pearls" to unsuspecting tourists.
2. Be careful while boating and put your lifejacket on.

How to reach Chilika Lake

The nearest airport to the Chilika Lake is Bhubaneswar, which is about 120 kilometres away. OTDC tour buses, state buses and other private operators frequently ply between Chilika and Bhubaneswar. The nearest railway stations are Rambha and Balugaon. From both these stations, buses and auto rickshaws are easily available to Chilika.

Local transport is limited to bicycles, three wheelers, auto and cars. For navigation to other islands, the services of motor boats and local boatmen can be availed. Note that outdoor motors are not allowed near the sanctuary.

  • Air: The nearest airport isë_Bhubaneswar, about 120 km away. From the airport you will have to take taxis, trains or buses to get to the lake.

  • Rail: The nearest rail station is at Balugaon, on the Howrah-Chennai track. From Balugaon, buses are available to get to the lake.

  • Road: Many buses ply from Bhubaneswar (Baramunda Bus Station) and Cuttack (Badambadi Bus Station) to Balugaon throughout the day, OSRTC buses which are the state buses will be the best choice. From there, one has to hire a taxi or an auto-rickshaw to reach Barkul or Rambha.

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