The Blue Lagoon
Spread over an area of 1,100-sq-km, the glorious stretch of the Chilika is Asia's largest brackish water lake. Home to thousands of colourful birds throughout the year, it is particularly noisy with the din of the raucous influx of migratory birds who descend on it from as far off as Siberia in winter.
A real paradise for bird watchers, Chilika offers visitors a spectacular display of its colourful avian charms in a thousand different hues. The white bellied sea eagle, the grey-legged geese, the peach coloured flamingoes, purple moorhen, jacana and heron-all mingle in a flurry of crested feathers and mind-blowing grace.
A Natural Bliss
The surrounding hills and sandy stretches abound in cheetals, blackbucks, monkeys, fishing cats, mongoose and porcupines and a dolphin population cavorting joyfully near the channel meeting the sea. Snakes and turtles, lizards and cobras inhabit the surrounding beach area and wooded undergrowth.
ATTRACTIONS WITHIN THE LAKE
A number of islands dot the expanse of the lake including Nalbana Island. Due to its varied flora and fauna, it forms the core of Chilika sanctuary.
It is a haven for the resident and migratory birds. One can watch the birds in their natural habitat here.
Kalijal Island is home to the Goddess Kalijai, and hosts a huge fair on Makar Sankranti annually in the month of January. Maa Kalijai is venerated by the local boatsmen.
Satapada is another retreat in nature on Chilika Lake, recently opened up to the tourists. With natural charm of being located near the confluence of Chilika and the ocean and for its proximity to Puri (48-km), Satapada is an ideal spot to enjoy Chilika Lake. The thrilling sight of Dolphins round the year and abundance of migratory and resident birds in winter make Satapada a preferred lace for a vacation with nature.
Parikud and Malud:
They are colourful islands within the lake.
The place is known for its scenic beauty.
The large fishing community adds local flavour to a trip to the lake. Their traditional colourful sailboats, bobbing expertly across the waters, bring back memories of the ancient maritime heritage of the Kalinga Sadhavas.
Best Time To Visit
The nicest time to visit Chilika is during winter, when the lake reverberates with din of its avian population. Boats, to tour the lake, can be hired at Balugan Barkul and Rambha. One can persuade the local fisher-folk to take you on one of their native wooden boats.
CRUISING ON CHILIKA
There are motor launches of OTDC Ltd. available at Barkul and Ramba. The Revenue Department also maintains some boats at Balugaon. One can also hire country boats from private operators at these places and at Satapada as well.
Just 11-kms from Rambha and 21-km from Barkul, Nirmala Jhar is a place of religious worship and a great picnic spot.
Situated 10-km away from Barkul, by the side of a perennial stream, the shrine of goddess Narayani adorns the place. It is also an ideal place for pleasure and relaxation.
Banpur is a centre of religious activities revolving round the time-honoured shrines of Goddess Bhagabati and Dakshya-Prajapati. It is 13-km from Barkul and 8-km from Balugaon.
The shimmering blue sea, surf and golden sand make this ancient sea port an excellent seaside resort.
A pleasant health resort with a hot sulphur spring having medicinal properties. The water of the spring is channelised to bathtubs of the Panthanivas for steam bath.
HOW TO GET THERE
Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport, situated 105-km from Barkul, 130-km from Rambha and 110-km from Satpada. Indian Airlines has flights from Delhi , Calcutta , Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Hyderabad , Mumbai and Chennai.
The Calcutta-Chennai rail route of South Eastern Railway touches Chilika Lake at Balugaon, Chilika, Khallikote and Rambha. The nearest railway Station for Barkul is at Balugaon (5-km) and for Satpada, at Puri (50-km).
The Chennai bound National Highway No.5 linking Calcutta-Cuttack-Bhubaneswar-Balugaon-Barkul-Rambha-Berhampur and Visakhapatnam runs along the lake. OTDC and other private tour operators provide luxury coaches and cars from Puri and Bhubaneswar.
WHERE TO STAY
Plenty of accommodation is available at various places in and around the lake. Some of the hotels, rest houses, lodges and huts are maintained and managed by OTDC and many are privately owned.
Panthanivas of OTDC, Rambha
Panthanivas of OTDC, Barkul
Ashoka Hotel, Bulgaon
FOR MORE TOURIST INFORMATION
Tourist Office, Barkul, Tel: 20855, Gram: ORISSATOUR
Puri Tourist office, V.I.P. Chhak, Tel: 22664, Gram: ORISSATOUR.