4.3 / 5

Chilika Lake

📍 Chilika Lake, OdishaView map ›

🗓 Best Time To Visit:November to February

⏰ Open Hours:Open 24 hours

🚣‍♀️ Things To Do:Bird watching, Boating, Photography, Visit Nalabana Bird Sanctuary, Spot Irrawaddy dolphins

💰 Budget:Boating costs vary between INR 500 - INR 1500. No entry fees.

🧳 Traveller Types:Nature Lovers, Photo Fanatics, Adventure Seekers

🏆 Known For:Asia's largest salt-water lagoon, Home to endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins, Host to a wide variety of bird species

📍 Distances:From Bhubaneswar Airport - 105 km, From Puri Railway Station - 50 km, From Cuttack - 130 km

🐦 Unique Aspect:Hosting the annual 'Chilika Bird Festival'

🚤 Water Sports:Speed boating available, charges vary based on time and type of boat

📌 Tip:Carry binoculars for bird watching, Start early for a complete experience

🛍 Souvenirs:Pick local handicrafts and sea shell items from nearby markets

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Chilika Lake: A Guide to India’s Largest Coastal Lagoon

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit a lake that is larger than some countries? A lake that hosts millions of migratory birds every year? A lake that is the only place in India where you can see dolphins in their natural habitat? If you are looking for such a unique and unforgettable experience, then you should definitely plan a trip to Chilika Lake, India’s largest coastal lagoon and the second largest in the world.

Chilika Lake is a brackish water lake that covers an area of over 1100 square kilometers in the state of Odisha, India. It is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a narrow strip of land and has a complex ecosystem that supports a diverse range of aquatic and terrestrial life forms. Chilika Lake is also a cultural and historical treasure, as it has been a witness to many events and influences that shaped the region and the country. In this article, we will explore the history, ecology, attractions, and activities of Chilika Lake, and how you can plan your trip to this amazing destination.

Photo of Chilika Lake 1/3 by

History of Chilika Lake

Chilika Lake has a long and fascinating history that dates back to ancient times. According to some legends, Chilika Lake was created by Lord Vishnu as a refuge for Goddess Lakshmi, who was being chased by a demon. According to some others, Chilika Lake was formed by the tears of Goddess Parvati, who was mourning the death of her son Ganesha. Whatever the origin, Chilika Lake has been a source of life and livelihood for many generations of people living around it.

Chilika Lake was also a hub of maritime trade and commerce in the past, as it was connected to the Bay of Bengal by several channels. It was frequented by merchants and travelers from different parts of the world, such as Greece, Rome, China, Southeast Asia, and Arabia. Chilika Lake also played a role in the colonial history of India, as it was occupied by the British, the French, and the Marathas at different times. Chilika Lake also witnessed some of the freedom struggles and movements that led to India’s independence from British rule.

In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated as a Ramsar site, meaning a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. In 2002, Chilika Lake was also inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Konark Sun Temple and other monuments in Odisha. These recognitions have helped to conserve and protect Chilika Lake from various threats and challenges.

Ecology of Chilika Lake

Chilika Lake is a biodiversity hotspot that hosts more than 1000 species of plants and animals. It is especially famous for its avian diversity, as it attracts millions of migratory birds every year from places like Siberia, Central Asia, Europe, and Africa. Some of the common bird species that can be seen in Chilika Lake are flamingos, pelicans, storks, herons, egrets, ducks, geese, cranes, ibises, spoonbills, gulls, terns, plovers, sandpipers, and many more. Chilika Lake is also home to some rare and endangered bird species such as the black-necked stork, the lesser flamingo, and the white-bellied sea eagle.

Chilika Lake is also known for its aquatic diversity, as it harbors more than 200 species of fish and crustaceans. It is one of the few places in India where you can see dolphins in their natural habitat. The Irrawaddy dolphin is the most famous resident of Chilika Lake, as it is one of only two lagoons in the world where this species can be found. The Irrawaddy dolphin is an endangered species that has a distinctive blunt head and a flexible neck. It can be seen swimming and jumping in the waters of Chilika Lake along with other dolphin species such as bottlenose dolphins and finless porpoises.

Chilika Lake is also home to some other rare and endangered aquatic species such as the olive ridley turtle, which comes to the nearby beaches to lay eggs every year. The olive ridley turtle is one of the smallest sea turtles in the world and has an olive-green shell. It is also one of the most threatened sea turtles due to poaching, fishing, and habitat loss. Chilika Lake also supports some other marine animals such as crabs, prawns, oysters, mussels, clams, and seaweeds.

However, Chilika Lake is also facing some serious ecological threats and challenges that need to be addressed urgently. To overcome these challenges, various conservation and restoration efforts have been undertaken by the government, NGOs, and local communities. Some of these are dredging the channels to improve the water flow, removing the invasive plants to increase the oxygen level, regulating the fishing activities to ensure sustainability, monitoring the dolphin population to ensure their protection, educating the public to raise awareness and participation, and promoting eco-tourism to generate income and incentives for conservation.

Attractions of Chilika Lake

Chilika Lake offers a plethora of attractions for visitors who want to experience its beauty and diversity. There are many places to visit in Chilika Lake that cater to different interests and preferences. Here are some of the top attractions of Chilika Lake that you should not miss:

1. Nalaban Island

This is a birdwatcher’s paradise, as it is a designated bird sanctuary that hosts millions of migratory birds every year. You can see a variety of colorful and exotic birds in Nalaban Island, such as flamingos, pelicans, storks, herons, egrets, ducks, geese, cranes, ibises, spoonbills, gulls, terns, plovers, sandpipers, etc. You can also see some rare and endangered bird species such as the black-necked stork, the lesser flamingo, and the white-bellied sea eagle. Nalaban Island is accessible by boat from various points around Chilika Lake.

2. Kalijai Temple

This is a sacred place for Hindus who worship Goddess Kalijai (a form of Goddess Kali). According to legend, Goddess Kalijai was a young girl who drowned in Chilika Lake while going to her husband’s house. Her spirit is believed to reside in an island in Chilika Lake where a temple was built in her honor. Thousands of devotees visit Kalijai Temple every year to seek blessings and offer prayers. Kalijai Temple is also a popular tourist spot as it offers a scenic view of Chilika Lake and its surroundings. Kalijai Temple is accessible by boat from various points around Chilika Lake.

3. Satapada Dolphin Point

This is one of the best places to see dolphins in Chilika Lake. You can take a boat ride from Satapada to Dolphin Point where you can spot dolphins swimming and jumping in the water. You can see different species of dolphins such as Irrawaddy dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and finless porpoises. You can also see other aquatic animals such as turtles, crabs, prawns, oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Satapada Dolphin Point is also a good place to enjoy the sunrise or sunset over Chilika Lake.

4. Honeymoon Island

This is a romantic place for couples who want to spend some quality time together in Chilika Lake. Honeymoon Island is a small island that has a sandy beach and a grove of casuarina trees. You can relax on the beach or take a walk in the woods while enjoying the view of Chilika Lake. You can also see some birds and animals on Honeymoon Island such as kingfishers, parakeets, monkeys, etc. Honeymoon Island is accessible by boat from various points around Chilika Lake.

These are just some of the attractions of Chilika Lake that you can explore during your visit. There are many more places to visit in Chilika Lake that will reveal the beauty and diversity of Chilika Lake. You can also customize your itinerary according to your preferences and budget. Chilika Lake is a destination that will surely satisfy your wanderlust and curiosity.

Photo of Chilika Lake 2/3 by

Activities in Chilika Lake

Chilika Lake is not only a place to see, but also a place to do. There are many activities that you can enjoy in Chilika Lake that will make your trip more fun and memorable. Here are some of the top things to do in Chilika Lake that you should not miss:

Boating: This is the most popular and convenient way to explore Chilika Lake and its islands. You can take a boat ride from various points around Chilika Lake and visit the attractions that interest you. You can also choose from different types of boats such as motorboats, speedboats, houseboats, or traditional boats. Boating is a great way to experience the scenic beauty and tranquility of Chilika Lake, as well as to observe the wildlife and culture of the lake. Boating is also an affordable and accessible activity, as you can find many boat operators and service providers around Chilika Lake.

Fishing: This is a relaxing and rewarding activity that you can try in Chilika Lake. You can join the local fishermen and learn their skills and techniques of fishing in the lake. You can also catch your own fish and cook it on the spot or take it home as a souvenir. Fishing is a good way to interact with the local people and learn about their lifestyle and culture. Fishing is also a sustainable and responsible activity, as you can support the local economy and conservation efforts by fishing responsibly and ethically.

Camping: This is an adventurous and exciting activity that you can do in Chilika Lake. You can pitch a tent on one of the islands or nature camps in Chilika Lake and spend a night under the stars. You can also enjoy a bonfire, a barbecue, or a musical night with your friends or family. Camping is a good way to experience the nature and wildlife of Chilika Lake, as well as to bond with your loved ones. Camping is also a safe and comfortable activity, as you can find many camping facilities and amenities in Chilika Lake.

Photography: This is a creative and enjoyable activity that you can do in Chilika Lake. You can capture the beauty and diversity of Chilika Lake with your camera or smartphone. You can take pictures of the landscapes, wildlife, people, culture, and events of Chilika Lake. You can also experiment with different angles, perspectives, filters, and modes to create stunning images. Photography is a good way to express yourself and share your experiences with others. Photography is also a rewarding and challenging activity, as you can improve your skills and knowledge by practicing photography in Chilika Lake.

These are just some of the activities that you can do in Chilika Lake that will make your trip more fun and memorable. There are many more things to do in Chilika Lake that will suit your taste and mood. You can also mix and match different activities to create your own adventure in Chilika Lake.

Photo of Chilika Lake 3/3 by

How to Plan Your Trip to Chilika Lake

If you are convinced that Chilika Lake is a destination that you should not miss, then you should start planning your trip to this amazing place as soon as possible. Here are some practical tips on how to plan your trip to Chilika Lake:

How to Reach Chilika Lake

It is easily accessible by different modes of transportation from various parts of India. The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar Airport (BBI), which is about 120 kilometers away from Chilika Lake. You can take a flight from major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, etc., to Bhubaneswar Airport (BBI) . From there, you can take a taxi or bus to reach Chilika Lake. The nearest railway station is Balugaon Railway Station (BALU), which is about 5 kilometers away from Chilika Lake. You can take a train from major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, etc., to Balugaon Railway Station (BALU) . From there, you can take an auto-rickshaw or taxi to reach Chilika Lake. The nearest bus stop is Balugaon Bus Stand (BBS), which is about 5 kilometers away from Chilika Lake. You can take a bus from major cities like Bhubaneswar, Puri, Cuttack, etc., to Balugaon Bus Stand (BBS) . From there, you can take an auto-rickshaw or taxi to reach Chilika Lake.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Chilika Lake depends on what you want to see and do there. If you want to see the migratory birds, then the best time to visit Chilika Lake is from November to February, when the lake is filled with millions of feathered visitors. If you want to see the dolphins, then the best time to visit Chilika Lake is from December to March, when the water is clear and calm. If you want to see the turtles, then the best time to visit Chilika Lake is from January to March, when they come to the nearby beaches to lay eggs. If you want to see the festivals, then the best time to visit Chilika Lake is from January to February, when the lake hosts some of the major events such as Makar Sankranti, Basant Panchami, and Kalijai Mela. If you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the pleasant weather, then the best time to visit Chilika Lake is from October to December or from March to April, when the lake is less crowded and the temperature is moderate.

Where to Stay

There are many options for accommodation in and around Chilika Lake that cater to different budgets and preferences. You can choose from hotels, resorts, nature camps, homestays, etc., depending on your comfort and convenience. Some of the popular places to stay in Chilika Lake are Swosti Chilika Resort , OTDC Panthanivas , Mangalajodi Nature Camps , Rajhans Nature Camps , etc.

Conclusion

Chilika Lake is a destination that you should not miss if you are looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in India. It is a place where you can see and do many things that will amaze and delight you. It is a place where you can learn and appreciate the history, ecology, culture, and people of Odisha. It is a place where you can relax and rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul. It is a place where you can create memories and souvenirs that will last a lifetime.

So what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Chilika Lake today and discover its beauty and diversity for yourself. You will not regret it.

Chilika Lake Reviews

If someone has to describe Chilika in single word then, it must be serene. All you can do is – unwind, absorb the excellence of nature, and live the moment. Chilika Lake is the India’s largest coastal lagoon and the second largest inland-lagoon in the World. Each time the train would pass Chilika Lake, I would peep outside the window attempting to get a decent glance at it. Since just a little segment of the lake can be noticeable from the moving train along these lines the lovely landscape would simply zoom past. I would wish that some time or another I would get the chance to see the lake for genuine likewise I needed to see the Dolphins and obviously the appeal of a long boat ride. Since budget traveling is a painful task but somehow i managed to cut the price, when i roam around that place. If you are following my series than you could have know that this is my second day in odisha so, the primary thing that I do is to lease a scooty on the earlier day and on the following day early morning we just began our excursion to chilika from bhubaneswar. oh! i forgot to present one of my companion on the second day from where i stayed, who also decide to visit there so we simply lease a two-wheeler which simply cut our expenditure a little bit. The best time to visit Chilika is during the winter months – between October and March. During this period, the place becomes a heaven of several migratory birds worth seeing and we know these birds are the reason behind tourism. Moreover, the weather also remains cool. The temperature in the day time remains pleasant. After breakfast in the morning take a 2hrs drive to Mangalajodi from the city. Mangalajodi is famous for checking out different migratory birds, paid the passage charge and basically went off inside the way. Note that there were also boat ride which charge you excess for trip and it does not make any sense if you are not a true wildlife photographer. [IMPORTANT NOTE : My suggestion is to join a group of around 10 peoples,it would be easy to cut cost or you will end up either paying high or you have to comeback with sad mind.] After spending around 2hrs we again drove to the main highlight – chilika.It was around 11am we reached chilika. Parked our scooty for ₹30 which is quite a cheap. we took some food snacks and refill our water-bottle. Till the time everything was going smooth then the tedious part came. The ticket price and the route, mostly the locals who comes in flock simply take a to-fro shared ride to the temple located in the middle of the lake. And all the other route you just have to reserve the boat or you have to be in a group of 10 to start the ride. and for a budget traveler its like head bang. It was then 11am in the morning the ride we decided to take was of around 3.5 hrs also we had to returned back to our hostel on the same day, so we decide to wait for an hour and if we cant find a group then we will simply go to temple. we both exhausted with the sun overhead and were ready to dump the idea but for like reason a group of 8 persons were also searching for 2 peoples an unfortunate coincidence that we encountered and started our excursion. The Route we took was a total of 5 places at a cost of ₹4000 for a group of 10 persons Places to Visit in Chilika & Around 1. BIRDS’ ISLAND The granite rocks are the remainders of Eastern Ghats.Some of the huge rocks are painted white because of the folic acid from the droppings of the Birds.It is known for its rich algal networks and not many mangrove species. 2. KALIJAI TEMPLE Another significant spot in Chilika is the island of Goddess Kalijai which is the most continuous visited spot for tourists. The island is well known as a focal point of religious worship because of Goddess Kalijai. Goddess Kalijai is the managing god of chilika lagoon. 3. SATAPADA Situated on the southern piece of the Chilika Lake. Satapada is an extreme spot to watch irrawaddy dolphins.If you are fortunate, at that point you will have the option to see whole dolphin, generally some segment of the tail or head of the dolphin is seen while they are swimming. On the off chance that they hops, at that point just the total dolphin can be seen. 4. NALABANA The spot gets its name from the tall grass found in the island (a sort of weed). In winter supports the biggest congregation of transitory birds in the nation. The one of a kind component of this island is that it is in submerged condition throughout the year except from November to April. Chilika, however is generally not commercialized till now and a decent spot to visit. Hope you like reading this post, dont forget to share do check out my other series too. Happy Reading Total cost : ₹ 1500 – 1600 Two-wheeler including petrol – ₹800 breakfast cum lunch – ₹300 ticket price for package was ₹4000 (so its ₹400 per person) parking fee – ₹30 evening tiffin / snacks – ₹50 If you like this content, do support my works by subscribing and sharing your thoughts through comments. If you have any query do write me, till then keep sharing – keep travelling.
We woke up early in the morning.. The date was 24.1.2021.. We started journey from the temple City Bhubaneswar.. The journey was 2 hour.. We had breakfast in a roadside catering, which was very delicious food.. We were 7 people Chetan Rathod.. Pickon Biswal.. Aniket das.. Animesh panda.. Sumitra and Aurosikha Mishra.. After one and half hour of journey.. We mistrack the road and we entered in a village.. After somehow we managed to get our proper road to get back to our location.. Bt there was an other bad incident had happened with us.. Our car tyre got punctured.. And the time was 12.30..got tensed dunn know wt will we gonna do.. Bt after that pikon have very good contacts with the local boys, And he called them they were very nice people.. The guy was Kanhu.. Having a sweet Smile with a polite behavior.. Bt when we were tensed about the car.. Our so called buddies were busy with the photoshoots. ..haha they were Animesh.. Sumitra and Aurosikha.. 😂😂..anyway then we all settled out.. And we started journey to the lake.. It was our lunch time.. So much hungry we all were.. We reached a beautiful restaurant named ruchi restaurant.. And the restaurant was famous for crab.. Prawn and fish.. 😋 yumm.. So quickly we finished our lunch.. And reached our destination.. And finally we were so happy.. The place was mesmerized to my eyes.. I got emotional cz some of my past memories came infront of my eyes.. Do u want to know my story.. No no no.. Its juss personal. Haha 🤪..we reserved a boat it was beautiful.. I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio haha felt like going in Titanic..chilika lake is the largest salt lake in the world.. Its famous for the dolphins.. And one more thing the kalijai Temple, which is into the sea.. And the journey to the sea root is 3 hours.. We saw dolphins.. Various kind of birds.. We feed them they were fond of some snax called kurkure 😂..we reached the kaalijai Temple.. Felt so peaceful i pray to the goddess..blow the diyas.. And we all seat together with peacefully.. And were watching the sunset.. Bt we have to comeback to shore.. Cz in night it would have been risky ..we were sad cz our journey was going to be end.. Bt its nt end.. My friends its just the beginning.. 💓💓
Chilika Lake Chilika is a very vast lake with lots of mouths. The mouth closest to Puri is a small village called Satapada. Bus tours and private taxis booked from Puri will take you to Satapada. Scams Exposed- The Boating associations at Chilika lake offer you different packages. If you have taken a private taxi to reach Satapada, they will deny to adjust you with a group and force you to take a private boat. They will offer different packages. The biggest package they offer is for Rs. 4500 (approx.) which includes Dolphin sighting, Red Crabs sighting, Bird Sanctuary and Beach visit. Now, coming to the scam - there is no bird sanctuary per say - migratory birds can be seen roaming in the lake. If you put something in water to feed them, they will come flocking to you. You can see the Irrawady Dolphins, which can be found only here in India, but you won't be able to spot them in abundance. Just one glimpse here and one glimpse there. As far as the sighting of red crabs is concerned, this is the biggest scam of all. They won't show you red crabs citing some reason of low/high tides. Instead they will show you two crabs caught by them in a bucket. The whole experience is definitely not worth Rs. 4000. And, they will also try to sell you precious stones which are most probably fake. Do not fall for the whole act they put up showing you the extraction of these precious stones from the reefs and shells. Although it's one hell of a performance, then again, be a Sakht Launda. Don't fall for the theatrics. Hacks for Chilika Visit- Try to book the bus tour provided by the Odisha government on their tourism website. It will cost you around Rs. 400 and includes the boat tour of Chilika lake. If you want to take a private taxi, then after reaching Satapada, take the boat tour offering visit to the beach and dolphin sighting. Other attractions are just not worth it.If you are interested in the migratory birds, just take something which you can feed to them, and they will come to you themselves.
Satpada / Chilika Lake Third morning, we planned for Chilika Lakewhich is very large lake famous for it's migratory birds and dolphins. This trip was 2 hour one-way and you are advised to carry water, snacks and food since there is nothing on the way except small shops chips and water bottles. One can hire a dedicated boat for 1720/- (fixed price) which provides 2.5 hr ride which includes dolphin sightings, crab in basket, and fake pearls. I will recommend you skip thisexperience unless you are very much into bird watching. Lake is huge, and hence it gets boring just sitting at boat. Lack of wind and hot sun wasn't helping! There are seagullsyou can feed for a while. Dolphins are few and far, and since every boat is trying to get glimpse of them, scared and hidden. Often, your boatman will call out and by the time you turn there will be nothing. We managed to catch glimpse only 2-3 times of just skin on the back of dolphins, and nothing of majestic dive they are known for. Your one way boat journey pauses at a island where they show some crabs collected in the basket and try to sell pearls (almost certainly fake). Given heat, boredom, no wind, and no dolphin, you'd rather spend time in Puri visiting few museums or at the beach. There is Alarnath Templeon the way back, but we didn't visit that.
We started at 7 am from Puri to Chilika Lake. Nothing like "Roshogolla" in the morning. There were hardly any big buildings in sight. "Quaint"- couldn't think of any other word to describe the place. Not just Puri or Dhauli. But Odisha was "quaint"! It grows on you- the people, the places! We happened to pass by this Government Law College somewhere along the way. I was truly stricken by the state of the college. Felt almost guilty even! We here in Tamil Nadu- are building colleges after colleges every few miles down the road. Every one of them spread over several acres of land. The sheer display of wealth! And here- even the Government colleges were in such dire state- in need of immediate renovation! Economic disparity between different regions in India- ceased to be a "theoretical" concept to me. Through the 1.5 hours boat ride- I could only say it was "Dolphin chasing". I had read about the "revival of the Chilika Lake" and the Irrawaddy Dolphins in the Lake. But seeing the dolphins was something else. It was pure joy watching them swim. But after a while, we felt like intruders in their home. We drove off to the sea mouth. Just us, the beach, the sand, the sky! Nothing else! Not another soul in sight! This was India minus the crowd. It was probably the best hour we have spent ever on a beach.
Photos of Chilika Lake
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