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.
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.
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.
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.
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 & FiguresArea 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.
Bird Sanctuary in India
Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary
Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary
Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary
Karnala Bird Sanctuary
Keoladeo Ghana National Park And Bird Sanctuary
Khijadia Bird Sanctuary
Kolleru Bird Sanctuary
Kulik Bird Sanctuary
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Kunthakulam Bird Sanctuary
Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary
Mayani Bird Sanctuary
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary
Nandurmadhmeshwar Bird Sanctuary
Nawab Ganj Bird Sanctuary`
Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary
Porbandar Bird Sanctuary
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Rollapadu Bird Sanctuary
Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary