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Chilika and Nalban

The endless expanse of emerald water of the Chilika lagoon is a combination of rare natural beauty and unique marine ecosystem. The largest inland salt water lagoon in Asia is home to the rare Irrawaddy dolphins and several thousands of indigenous and migratory birds that draw visitors from across the globe.

The green hills of the Eastern Ghats seem to rise out of the blue vastness of Chilka lake. Gentle waves lap the shore as fishermen push their tiny canoes out for a catch. Flocks of birds fly off and at a distance groups of dolphins thread the water surface. Chilika is a dreamscape. The Bay of Bengal links up with the lake through a narrow channel giving the lake waters the unique feature of high and low tides. A number of small islands teeming with birds foraging, roosting, and nesting dot the lake.  The water changes colour with the passing clouds and shifting sun.
Spread over 1100km2 the lake comprises of wetlands and shallow water, the depth of which is dependent on the tides; Chilika was designated as a "Ramsar Site" - a wetland of International Importance on account of its rich bio-diversity,
Located nearly 48km from the temple town of Puri in Orissa, it is spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts. Balugaon and Rambha are two major towns which serve as entrances to the lake.
Nearly 35 streams, including the rivers Daya, Bhargavi, Makra and Malaguni flow into Chilka lake.  70 km in length and 32km in breadth, it is stretched out over 1100km.

Bird Sanctuary:
Nalaban Island is the core area of the Ramsar designated wetlands of Chilika; it is located in the lagoon and is a designated Bird Sanctuary. Migratory birds start arriving in September. Their numbers peak in December-January and the birds roost here till April.
It is a paradise for ornithologists and amateur bird watchers. Nearly a million birds belonging to over 230 species including intercontinental and local migrants come here. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent.
 
The whole place comes alive with the calls of golden plovers, sea eagles, ospreys, sandpipers, pelicans, flamingoes, and gulls. Apart from the birds, marine seaweeds, sea grasses, different types of fish, crabs and algae live and flourish in these brackish waters.  An estimated 225 species of fish and the Irrawady dolphins are found in Chilka Lake. Large numbers of red crabscan also be seen moving around the lake shore.

Irrawaddy dolphins:
The Irrawaddy dolphin inhabits inshore coastal, freshwater isolated and semi-isolated habitats in south and south-east Asia, where it frequently competes with humans for space and resources. Listed as a critically endangered species, these Irrawaddy dolphins are found in the deep waters of Chilka lake. The lake holds the largest population of these dolphins in the world. The number of dolphins sighted are between 80-180. You may be able to track one of these marine mamals, while cruising the waters of the lake. Dolphin tourism provides an important alternative source of income for many local residents, while creating a protected sanctuary for the endangered mammals.
Ecotourism and Conservation in Mangalajodi
Mangalajodi village is a unique beacon and success story in conservation. It used to be a village of bird hunters causing destruction to the bird life in the back waters of Chilika. The forest department was unable to stop this. Then an NGO “Wild Orissa” began to interact with the villagers enlightening them about the ethical and environmental issues involved in this practice. Initially the team faced stiff resistance and threats, but they persisted and gradually they were successful in converting most of the  poachers  into nature guides and conservationists.

Nalban Island
Nalaban Island forms the core area of the Ramsar designated wetlands of Chilika and is a notified Bird Sanctuary.It It’s made up of a forest of reeds, which sometimes disappears during monsoon due to inundation and re-appears again after monsoon.
Satpada
Located at the convergence of Chilka lake and the Bay of Bengal and locally called “ Muhan” or the “Mouth of Chilika” it is flanked be the turbulent Bay of Bengal on one side and the calm Chilika Lake on the other. Satpada is a dream destination for nature enthusiasts. A simple sailboat takes you to the heart of the lake, where dolphins can be spotted. This is also a place for boating, kayaking and canoeing.
Mangalajodi Wetlands
Mangalajodi Ecotourism is a community owned and managed wildlife conservation venture. Mangalajodi, a village on the banks of Chilika Lake has numerous channels that crisscross through its greenery. It is home to thousands of resident and migratory water-birds, which jostle in its marshy water, especially in winters. Mangalajodi also represents a critical, one of its kind ecosystem whose protection is epitomized by a sustainable lifestyle that is on the brink of extinction in urban settings.
Islands
Honeymoon Island Also known as Barkuda island, it is nearly 15km from Rambha. As the name indicates, this place is blessed with natural beauty and is very popular amongst young couples. The waters around the island are very clear and a luxurious bed of red and green macro algae grow in the water. Breakfast Island Also known locally as Sankuda island, this island is pear-shaped and is famous for its diverse species of flora and fauna. Beacon island 3km from Rambha, it has a canon shaped pillar that acted as light tower for boats during British era. Birds’ Island This island with huge rocks is used by migratory birds as their perching ground. The rocks here appear white due to the folic acid inherent in the thousands of droppings left behind by the Birds. The island is also rich in algae and mangroves.
Taptapani
Naerly 125km from Chilka, this place boasts of a hot sulphur spring known to cleanse the body of its travel accretions and cures for skin diseases. The Tourist Bungalow situated here has this water piped in from the spring, for tourists to enjoy the spa-like bath.
Banpur
This town is noted for artistic cane furniture. It is also famous for Daksya Prajapati temple and goddess Bhagbati is known to reside here.
Kalijai Temple
The temple is situated on the Kaqlijai island. Kalijai is the presiding deity of Chilka Lake. Situated on a hill surrounded by water, the temple is the source of solace for fishermen. Local folk worship the goddess for blessings and welfare. People feel the great sanctity and sacredness of the place. Motor launches and boats ply people to the temple daily.
Fishermen fry Pomfret and tiger prawn on the beach and sell them to tourists at amazingly cheap rates. You can enjoy Prawn, Red Crab and fish preparations served on leaf plates by locals.
Nearby places Train stations Airports
BHUBANESWAR
Balugan
Puri
Nearby major cities
Name Distance Duration
76 Km 01H 54m
132 Km 03H 45m
76 Km 01H 54m
A small fishing hamlet, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, is home to the beautiful and pristine beach called Gopalpur. It is a seaside retreat where one can enjoy the roar of the waves crashing on the breakers and the invigorating sea breeze in idyllic surroundings. The attraction of the place lies in its blissful calmness.
99 Km 02H 38m
Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa, is the seat of Tribhubaneswar or 'Lord Lingaraj'. Bhubaneswar is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. While hundreds of temples dot the landscape of the Old Town, which once boasted of more than 2000 temples, the new Bhubaneswar with its modern buildings complements its modern aspirations. This city is most renowned for changing the conqueror Asoka to the conquered. The great Kalinga War took place here between Emperor Asoka and Kalinga (the old empire of Odi
132 Km 03H 45m
Nestling on the eastern coast along the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, Puri is a unique synthesis of magnificent temples, interesting legends, mythology, a world famous chariot festival, sun and sea like no other.
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Weather
Season Min. Temp. Max. Temp.
Summer 22 °C 36 °C
Winter 10 °C 27 °C
The climate is humid due to the proximity of the Bay of Bengal. Chilika receives quite a bit of rainfall during the monsoons form mid-June to September. Winters are mild with temperatures ranging between 14-27 C. Post monsoon October - March is the best time to visit.
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