Queen of natural beauty, Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon in Odisha. It is spread over Puri, Khurda and Ganjam district in Odisha. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest in the world. It is the wintering ground for migratory birds during winter.
Chilika Lake is Asia’s largest salted water lake located in Orissa, India and also known as Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary. Chilika is known as one of the best wetlands in the world. The islands in Chilika are not great for bird watching but offer romantic view of the sunrise and sunset.
The lake is a highly productive ecosystem, with rich fishery resources. The lake is also home to a diverse range of aquatic life, including 225 species of fish and the Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella Brevirostris). Chilika Lake is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. Chilika Lake is a popular bird watching spots in India, and is also popular for fishing and angling.
There are some islands in Chilika Lake. They are Nalabana, Bird Island, Kalijai, Satapada, Brahmaputra, Breakfast Island, Beacon Island and honeymoon Island.
Nalabana Island is the best place for the bird watchers. During monsoon the island disappears due to inundation, and again appears post-monsoon.
Kalijai Island is famous for the goddess Kalijai. Makar Sankranti is celebrated here with great cheer. Tourist can reach the Kalijai temple by boat.
Satapada Island is famous for Irrawaddy dolphins. It is another major attraction of Chilika. The lake and its reed islands teem with nesting birds-white bellied sea eagles, ospreys, golden plovers, sand pipers, flamingos, pelicans, gulls, include migratory ones flying distances from Iran, Central Asia and Siberia.
Kalijai Temple is located at the Kalijai Island. This temple is considered to be the abode of the Goddess Kalijai. This temple is located at a hill which is surrounded by the blue water.
Puri is a city in Odisha famous for Lord Jagannath temple. It is one of the char dham pilgrimage site for Hindus. The other major attraction here is the beach.
The Nirmaljhara Waterfall is an ideal place for picnic. The beautiful place is located nearly 12 km from Chilika Lake.
By Air– The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar, about 120 km away from where one can get taxis, trains and buses to reach at Chilika.
By Train– The nearest railway stations is at Balugaon. From Balugaon buses are available to the lake.
By Road– Many buses go from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack to Balugaon throughout the day, OSRTC buses being the best ones.
The best time to visit Chilika is during winter months, from November to February, when the temperature varies between maximum 22 ̊ C and minimum 4 ̊ C.