Tourist Places of Chilika
A real paradise on earth, Chilika offers visitors a stunning array of its colourful charms in a variety of different hues. Along the east coast of India it is the largest brackish Water Lagoon in Asia with estuarine character that sprawls over 1000 sq. km.
The surrounding hills and sandy stretches abound in cheetals, blackbucks, monkeys, fishing cats, mongoose and porcupines and a dolphin population cavorting joyfully near the channel meeting the sea. Snakes and turtles, lizards and cobras inhabit the surrounding beach area and wooded undergrowth.
The white bellied sea eagle, the grey-legged geese, the peach coloured flamingoes, purple moorhen, jacana and heron-all mingle in a flurry of crested feathers and mind-blowing grace.
The vast and dream like Chilika Lagoon is situated on the east-coast of India. It is the largest brackish Water Lagoon with estuarine character that sprawls along the east coast. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent. It is one of the hotspot of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit in the lagoon for atleast part of their life cycle. The total number of fish species are reported to be 225 (Dean and Saaltink, 1991). Along with a variety of phytoplankton, algae and aquatic plants, the Lake region also supports over 350 species of non-aquatic plants (Panda and Pattnaik, 1988). By a recent phytodiversiy survey by CDA ( 2002) 710 number of plants identified from Chilika( within the waterbody, including the Islands and shoreline plants) .
A survey of the fauna of Chilika carried out by the Zoological Survey of India in 1985-87 recorded over 800 species in and around the lagoon. This list includes a number of rare, threatened and endangered species, including the Barakudia limbless skink. On account of its rich bio-diversity, Chilika was designated as a "Ramsar Site", i.e. a wetland of International Importance. The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, the National Wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, have also identified the lagoon as a priority site for conservation and management. The Lagoon is a highly productive ecosystem, with rich fishery resources. The rich fishing ground sustain the livelihood of more than 0.15 million fisherfolk who live in and around the Lagoon.
The waterspread area of Chilika varies between 1165 to 906 sq.km during the monsoon and summer respectively. A 32 km long, narrow, outer channel connects the main lagoon to the Bay of Bengal, near the village Motto. The mouth connecting the channel to the sea is close to the north eastern end of the lagoon.
High tides near this inlet mouth drive in salt water through the channel during the dry months, from December to June. With the onset of the rains, the 52 river and rivulets falling into the Chilika are in spate, causing fresh water currents which gradually push the sea water out. Due to littoral drift prevailing along the east coast the inlet mouth constantly changes position.
The lagoon itself can be broadly divided into four natural sectors based on salinity and depth: the southern zone, central zone, northern zone and the outer channel. A number of islands are present in the lagoon with habitation and without the habitation, prominent among which are Krushnaprasad, Nalaban, Kalijai, Somolo, Honeymoon, Breakfast and Birds Island.
Nalbana Island: A number of islands dot the expanse of the lake including Nalbana Island. Due to its varied flora and fauna, it forms the core of Chilika sanctuary.
Birds Island: It is a haven for the resident and migratory birds. One can watch the birds in their natural habitat here.
Chilika is the largest brackish water lake in Asia and also the second largest lake in the world. Chilika is situated between 19º28' and 19º54' North latitude and 85º05' and 85º 38' East longitude. A mix of estuarine, marine and freshwater ecosystem is observed here and the lagoon has a long history of sustainable fishing. According to the Directorate of Fisheries Statistics 2000-01, the wetland supports 122,339 fisher folk who live in the 137 villages near Chilika.
Based on highly productive ecosystem, rich biodiversity and socio-economic importance, Chilika was designated as a Ramsar site in 1981. It has also found its position in the list of wetlands selected for intensive conservation and management by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), Government of India. The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a "bird sanctuary" under Wild Life (protection) Act in 1987. Some rare, vulnerable and endangered animal species listed in the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) inhabit the lagoon area for the whole or at least part of their life cycle.
It supports the largest congregation of aquatic birds in the country, particularly during the winter. Satapada is a place in this wetland, which hosts famous dolphins. The lagoon has a great value in preserving genetic diversity because of the variety of habitats, flora and fauna. In addition to its importance for water birds and biodiversity in general, significant numbers of people are dependent upon the lake's resource.
Narayani- Goddess Narayani holds the say in the region and is being worshipped with full respect and fervor. The hill top comes to live with the presence of a stream. A charming picnic spot is favorite among the visitors. It is 22 km from Chilika.
Nirmaljhara (11) Consider it a picnic place or Pilgrimage, Nirmaljhara server to both of them. The holiness of the place is multifolded by a beautiful stream which comes out from the Feet of a Vishnu image. It is 1 km distance from khallikote & 60 km from Berhampur.
Narayani (22 km)Goddess Narayani adorns the valley hill-top which is girdled by a stream. It is an ideal picnic spot.
Nirmaljhara (11 km)Nirmaljhara has earned its name as an ideal place for picnic as well as pilgrimage. A stream that emerges out from the feet of a Vishnu image enhances the importance and sanctity of the place.
Banpur (42 km) Famous for the time honoured temple of Goddess Bhagabati, Banpur has earned celebrity as a center of religious activities. Once it was the capital of Sailodvaba dynasty, responsible for the construction of the early group of temples in Bhubaneswar. The large number of Buddhist images discovered at Banpur relate the place to the Vajrayan cult of Buddhism. The temple of "Dakshya Prajapati" is a fine specimen of extraordinary artistic excellence of Orissan art. Banpur is 8 km from Balugaon, 42 km from Rambha and 104 km from Bhubaneswar