Chilka Lake Bird National Park Orissa

Chilka Lake (Chilika Lake) is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Orissa state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the World.

It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. The lake is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals. The lake is an ecosystem with large fishery resources. It sustains more than 150,000 fisher–folk living in 132 villages on the shore and islands.

The lagoon hosts over 160 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come here. These birds travel great distances, but it must be stressed, that the migratory birds probably follow much longer routes than the straight lines, possibly up to 12,000 km, to reach Chilika River.

Microalgae, marine seaweeds, sea grasses, fishes and crabs also flourish in the brackish water of the Chilika Lagoon.


Flora

Recent surveys revealed an overall 726 species of flowering plants belonging to 496 genera and 120 families. This represents about one –fourth of the vascular plant species of the Orissa state where some 2900 species altogether are found. Fabaceae is the most dominant plant family followed by Poaceae and Cyperaceae. Certain species were found to be characteristic of specific islands. The flora is predominantly of aquatic and sub-aquatic plants. Overall 726 species of flowering plants belonging to 496 genera and 120 families have been recorded. Fabaceae is the predominant plant family followed by Poaceae and Cyperaceae. The species reported are leguminosae, poaceae, and cyperaceae; endemic cassipourea ceylanica; five species of seagrass, and more.


Major Attractions

Nalaban Island : The 15 sq. km Nalaban Island is within the Lagoon and is the core area of the Ramsar designated wetlands. It was declared a bird sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act in 1973. It’s the heart of the park where one can seen thousands of birds descending during the migratory season. The lake disappears during monsoon season due to inundation, and post-monsoon, the Island emerges again.

The vast lake harbors 225 species of fish, a wide variety of phytoplankton, algae and aquatic plants, and also supports over 350 species of non-aquatic plants. The other areas where high concentrations of birds are recorded are Gerasara, Parikud Island, and the western shores of the Northern sector.

Chilka Lake is one of the best bird watching spots in India, and is also popular for fishing and angling.

Other Attractions

Puri : This holy city is famous for the late 11th century built Jagannath temple. The other major attraction here is the beach, from where you can witness the glorious sunrise and equally mesmerising sunset. It’s said that a visit to Puri is incomplete without visiting Chilika Lagoon.

The Nirmaljhar Waterfall : This is an ideal place for pitching your picnic tent. The beautiful waterfall is located nearly 12 km from Chilika Lagoon.


Best Time To Visit

The weather remains moderately warm the whole year round, so come any time of the year except during the rainy season from June to September. The best time, however, is from October to March, when the lake is crowded with migrating birds, usually at least 50-70 species. Pilgrims flock here in January during Makar Mela (at the time of Makar Sankranti) to pay obeisance to the Goddess Kalijai, whose temple is situated on Kalijai island in Chilka Lake.


How To Reach

Air : Nearest Airport is at Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India


Rail : Nearest Railway Station is at Balugaon and Rambha on S. E


Road : National High Way No. 5 touches Chilika at Balugaon, Barkul and Rambha.


Accommodation
There are a few hotels on the banks of the lake including an OTDC run hotel and two tourist bungalows (the `Panthnivas' at Rambha and Barkul) that have stunning views and a relaxed vacation ambience. Air-conditioned double rooms at the Barkul tourist bungalow cost Rs 700 a night; non-air conditioned rooms cost half that price. The bungalow at Rambha is somewhat cheaper, with air-conditioned double rooms for Rs 500 and non-air conditioned rooms for Rs 250 a night.
A number of state-run as well as privately-operated rest houses and tourist lodges also dot the shores of the lake, and tariffs vary considerably, depending upon the facilities offered.

More information on Chilka can be obtained from the Government of Orissa Tourism Counter at the Tourist Bungalow in Rambha (District Ganjam, Orissa, Tel: 91-6810-78346).


Facts & Figures
Area Between 1165 to 906 sq. km during the monsoon and summer respectively.
Best Time To Visit October to March
Location districts of Puri ,Khurda and Ganjam of Orissa
Nearest Access Rambha and Balugaon
Main Wildlife Found Birds, Blackbuck, Spotted Dear, Golden Jackals, 160 species of fish, crustaceans and other marine creatures.

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