The Paradise called Chilika

This year seems to be much more happening than I expected. I realized it when I got an invitation from a senior colleague to attend his marriage at Bhubaneshwar. Hidden was another invitation to revisit the Puri-beach and also the Chilika Lake.

I hadn’t still come out of the hangover of my pan-India ride, when the date to fly to the City of Temples knocked at doors. Packing the very morning of departure with least pairs of casuals and 3sets of party wears, I joined friends on our tour de Chilika.

Chilika Lake is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest in World. It is an essentially shallow brackish water lagoon on the east coast, spread over the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam of Odisha state. The lake, popularly known as Chilka, was designated the first Indian Wetland of International importance under the Ramsar Convention, in 1981.

We have booked room online at OTDC (Orissa Tourism Development Corporation Ltd) managed Pantha Niwas, Satpada. This place is situated much closed to Irawadi Dolphin Eco Park and the Chilika Lake boats’ anchor. Interestingly if we observe closely state of Odisha appears to be a roughly enlarged image of the lake itself. We started for Satpada, from Puri, at around 11:30 AM, and took about an hour to reach the Pantha Niwas. OTDC manager told us that in peak seasons, i.e. November-December, they take Rs 600/- per hour for boating; in other seasons it depends how well you negotiate. In the Chilika, one can visit Kaljayee Temple (some 6hours’ boating), lake-Bay of Bengal confluence/Island, Irrawaddy Dolphin and migratory birds’ site. We customized the boating plan to view Irrawaddy Dolphins, birds and to visit the Chilika-Bay of Bengal confluence; an approximately 4hours plan and managed to get it for Rs 1200 only.

We didn’t have to wait too long to see the famous Irrawaddy Dolphins of Chilika. Few minutes on boat, a few tens of meters from the anchorage, and there was the show of shy dolphins. These dolphins are classified as critically endangered species by the IUCN in Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand and as vulnerable species in Bangladesh and India. The Irrawaddy Dolphin, locally know as Khem or Kher, was first described by Sir Richard Owen in 1866 in the harbour of Visakhapatnam on the east coast of India. Luckily enough, we’re able to click a few pictures. Unlike the popular dolphins we know, these had a blunt snout.

Next was to spot the migratory birds. Well, what we found were probably not the migratory ones; though were beautiful enough to attract city-dwellers’ attention. We saw a variety of birds, like Herons, Flamingos, some Ducks, Kingfishers, etc. Flamingos’ trying to get into a flying formation was a remarkable sight.

Our final destination of the day was the Island at the mouth of Chilika Lake, where it meets the Bay of Bengal. This place is famous for fresh prawns and crabs. I am not a pure non-vegetarian, but the masala-curry they serve in Odisha with prawns is just irresistible! Finger licking good! Also, the local guys try to sell pearls, taken right from the shell in front of the customer. Don’t be fooled, mostly those pearls are artificially grafted inside the shell. We too visited the beach on the other side of island, like always a Bay of Bengal beach is the best beach I have ever seen in my short life.

After having some photographs, we sailed back to the anchorage; appreciating the beauty of one of the largest of its own kind lake in the World, watching sunset at the far west.

Punit Dubey

Professionally a Geologist; a Royal Enfield rider otherwise. Naive blogger and photographer. He is randomly chaotic inside. Loves to live the life as it comes, submissive in nature, but quite decisive! Loves to be loved, hates being hated. Smile is what one notices in him after his eyes.

Image by: Punit Dubey