Chilika Lake – Interesting Facts About It
Chilika Lake is a brackish water lake, spread over the Khurda, Puri and Ganjam districts of Odisha an eastern state of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, draining into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of more than 1,100 km.
Chilika is the largest coastal lake in India and the second largest brackish water lake in the world after The New Caledonian barrier reef. Chilika lake has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Central and southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come here during the peak migratory seasons. These birds travel very large distances; possibly up to 12,000 km, to reach Chilika Lake. The lake hosts more than 160 species of birds during the peak seasons.
History of Chilika
Some ancient text suggested that Chilika is one of the major commerce and trade hub where ships were harboured, due to the large body of water. Chinese famous visitor Fa-Hien and Hiuen-Tsang also mention a famous port “Che-li-ta-loChing” near the shore of the ocean which was a thoroughfare and resting place for seagoing traders from distant lands. This port was located at Chhatragarh on the mouth of Chilika Lake.
A Famous Odia Poet Gopabandu Das became impatient to see the beauty of the march of colorful sights and sounds of Chilika lagoon while going by train. He asked the speeding train to stop for a moment so that he could enjoy the beauty.
ରହ ରହ କ୍ଷଣେ ବାଷ୍ପୀୟ ଶକଟ,ଦେଖିବି ଚିଲିକା ଚାରୁ ଚିତ୍ରପଟ ।
ଚିତ୍ର ମଣେ ଯେଣୁ ନାହିଁ ଅନୁଭବ,ବାସ୍ତବ ବିଶ୍ବେ କି ଏ ଛବି ସମ୍ଭବ ?ନୀଳ ବୀଚିମାଳା ଧିରେ ଧିରେ ଯାଏ,ଲାଗଇ ସ୍ବପନେ ଦେଖିଲା ପରାଏ ।
ସନ୍ତରନ୍ତି ବକ୍ଷେ ପକ୍ଷୀ ଦଳ ଦଳ,ଓଲଟିଣ ତଳେ ଦିଶନ୍ତି ଯୁଗଳ ।
ଘୋର ନାଦେ ଯହୁଁ ଉଠିଲେ ସେ ନଭେ,ଉଠେ ଶତ ଖଗ ଚିଲିକା – ଗରଭେ ।
ସତ୍ୟ ବୋଲି ମନେ ନ ହେଉ ପ୍ରତୀତ,ପଲକେ ସେ ଦୃଶ୍ୟ ହୁଏ ତିରୋହିତ ।…ଦୂରେ ଘେନିଯାଏ ନିଦାରୁଣ ଯାନ,ଆସେ ପୁଣି ତରୁ ଶିଳା ବ୍ୟବଧାନ ।
Flora and Fauna
According Recent surveys revealed an overall 726 species of flowering plants from which 496 represents genera and 120 represents families. This represents about quarter of the vascular plant species of Odisha state where around 2900 species are found. The flora is mostly of aquatic and sub-aquatic plants.
Chilika Lake is the largest winter ground for migratory birds on Indian sub-continent. It is one of the main spot of biodiversity in the country. Some species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened animals inhabit the lake for at least part of their total life cycle.
According Chilika Development Authority‘s data (2002), 323 aquatic species, including 261 fish species, 28 prawns and 34 crabs are reported out of which sixty five species ovulated in the lake. Out of which 27 species are freshwater fishes and two genera of prawns.
Attractions of Chilika Lake:
Nalabana Island that covers about 16 sq km in the lake area was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1987. The total area about of 9 sq km attracts around 400,000 waterfowls of variable species.
The island often underwater gradually emerges with the outset of summer. The island is literally a paradise for the bird-watchers.
Irrawady dolphins one of the major attraction of chilika lake, which are often spotted off Satpada Island.
Satpada, bounded by the water on three sides, offers an excellent view and attracts the many visitors to its entire section. Boats arranged by government are available for both the islands.
Kalijai Temple is one of the famous attractions located on an island in the Chilika Lake . Kalijai temple worships Goddess Kalijai.
The island is also a destination for pilgrims as well as tourists and can be reached only via a boat from Chilika Lake. Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great cheer and joy at the temple that attracts numerous tourists & devotees.
How To Reach Chilika Lake
By Air: Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport 100 km away from Chilika.
By Roads: Chilika lake is well connected by road through NH 5 Satpada town on the eastern side of the lake.
By Trains: Nearest railway station to Chilika is Balugaon, Rambha, and Barkul .