Chilika lake | India
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Chilika lake

Chilika Lake is spread over Khurda, Ganjam and Puri districts of Odisha (formerly Orissa). Balugaon and Rambha are two major towns serving as entry points for the lake. It is Asia’s largest salt-water lagoon and is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sandy ridge. The pear-shaped lake spreads across 1,100 km², and has a unique ecosystem with a range of aquatic flora and fauna found in and around its brackish waters. An impressive array of bird life, both native and migrant, makes Chilika one of the best places in India for bird-watching, splashing around in the water and quiet relaxation. Chilika Lake is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

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Planning a Trip

1 Get in 1.1 By plane 1.2 By train 1.3 By road By plane The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar, about 120 km away from where taxis, trains and buses are available to the lake. By train The nearest rail stations is at Balugaon, on the Howrah-Chennai track. From Balugaon buses are available to the lake. Some of the trains which stop at Balugaon are: 6003/6004 Howrah Chennai Mail, 2703/2704 Faluknama Express, 8645/8646 East Coast Express, 6358/6357 Gurudev Express, 2863/2864 Howrah Yeshvantpur Express, 5228/5227 Muzaffarpur Yeshvantpur Express (weekly), 2508/2507 Guwahati Ernakulam Express (weekly), 2530/2509 Guwahati Bangalore Express (triweekly), 5628/5627 Guwahati Trivandrum Express (weekly). For timings etc. check with Indian Railways. By road A part of Chilika Lake is visible from NH5 and the Howrah-Chennai train track. Many buses ply from Bhubaneswar (Baramunda Bus Station) and Cuttack (Badambadi Bus Station) to Balugaon throughout the day, OSRTC buses (i.e. state-run buses) being the best ones. The journey takes 2 hours and costs less than ₹100 one way. From there, one has to hire a taxi or an auto-ricksaw to reach Barkul or Rambha (In case of Rambha, passengers can alight at Keshpur, which is further ahead from Balugaon, and from there hire an auto-rickshaw). Satapada is well connected by daily local buses from Puri. Visitors can take an OTDC day tour from Puri to see Satapada (~₹400; 3-hr boat ride and AC transport included). However, Satapada is not so well connected from Bhubaneswar and taxis have to be hired to get there.

Chilika lake

Top Attractions

The best time to visit Chilika is in the winter months, when migratory birds arrive there. Goliath Heron Jetty at Satapada, Chilika Lake, Odisha A tourist boat near dolphin point, Satapada, Chilika Lake, Odisha Near the Chilika Lake sea mouth, Odisha 19.517285.13461 Bird Island. Watch birds in their natural habitat.  Brahmaputra. The place is known for its scenic beauty.  Breakfast Island. A 20-minute boat ride from Rambha. Tourists pack breakfast from the OTDC panthanivas at Rambha and have it here in pristine surroundings. Beacon Island and Honeymoon Island are close by.  19.6662885.213572 Kalijai Island. Abode of Goddess Kalijai. Pilgrims flock here in January during Makar Mela (at the time of Makar Sankranti) to pay obeisance to the Goddess. Is very close from Barkul. Flocks of peacocks roam here, mingling with the devotees. Legends say that 200-300 years ago a girl named Kali drowned, near the present Kalijai Temple, while returning to her maternal house from her husband's. A few years later her sister, Jai, came looking for Kali and came to the island. She died on the island(reasons unknown). Fishermen and other local folks used to hear cries of two girls at nights. But soon after the temple was built the cries stopped for good. Earlier fishermen used to visit the temple before venturing into the deep sea, but nowadays, it's just another tourist spot.  19.9193585.425953 Mangalajodi. A former poachers village which has become a community owned wildlife venture. The community is supported by Mangalajodi Ecotourism.  19.694585.30874 Nalabana Bird Sanctuary. A designated bird sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act, Nalabana is a big island in the center of the lake. A treat for bird-watchers in the winter months, this island is completely submerged in the monsoon months.  19.5127185.088645 Rambha. It is a good place from which to discover Chilika Lake and this guide offers boat trips to visit the islands and watch birds.  19.6662385.437416 Satapada. Close to Dolphin point, where the critically endangered Irrawady dolphins and occasionally, bottle-nosed dolphins can be seen. Chilika is one of the only 2 lagoons in the world where Irrawady dolphins can be seen. 

Chilika lake