Have you ever wanted to befriend dolphins, the intelligent and playful residents of water? If you have, Chilka Lake in Orissa is the place for you. It is spread over three districts in Orissa and is the largest saltwater lake in India. The lake and surroundings have a unique ecosystem due to the brackish waters. Apart from dolphins of Chilka Lake, there are other attractions also waiting for tourists out there. Let us explore a little.
Is Chilka all about dolphins?
Satpada for dolphins
Chilka Lake is noted among places to visit in India, mainly due to its dolphin population. It can be rightly said that Chilka Lake tourism thrives on dolphins. Satpada is one of the several entry points to the lake. It is best known for spotting Irrawaddy dolphins, a critically endangered species of dolphins. These shy creatures generally swim below the surface and only their tails are seen above water. But if you are lucky enough, you might see some of them jumping above water. When the pretty dolphins decide to put up a show, you will surely jump for joy! Boatmen are cautious and they switch off engines so as not to disturb the dolphins.
Nalabana Island for bird watching
Nalabana Island is a designated bird sanctuary. During monsoons, the island gets completely submerged in water. As water recedes, parts of island start rising up and birds fly to their heaven. During migratory season, the island is seen teeming with birds from all over the globe. This is the best time to catch a glimpse of the foreign visitors. If dolphins of Chika Lake are the highlight of Chilka Lake tourism, birds of Nalabana stand close behind.
Chilka lake Kalijai temple
Located on an island in Chilka Lake is the temple dedicated to Goddess Kalijai, a local deity. People from all over Orissa visit this temple as they consider the goddess to be an incarnation of Maa Kali. There are several folklores about the temple, one of them says that a girl named Jaai who was travelling in a ferry across the lake met with a tragic death as her boat capsized. Locals believe that it was this girl who took the form of Maa Kalijai to protect those who travel in the lake. Chilka Lake Kalijai temple attracts lots of worshippers during Makar Sankranti, which is celebrated in a big way around here.
How to reach Chilka Lake
As dolphins of Chilka Lake have captured the attention of the world, tourist and travel facilities have also shown improvements.
By air: Bhubaneshwar is the nearest airport for reaching Chilka Lake, though it is at a distance of around 100 kms.
By rail and road: The nearest railhead is at Balugaon which is on Howrah- Chennai route. Being close to NH5, road travel to Chilka Lake is also fairly easy. There are several buses plying from Bhubaneshwar and other nearby cities.
Whether for watching dolphins or for viewing a diverse landscape, Chilka Lake is one among the places to visit in India, which is worth every penny spent. A day or two over here will surely create a lasting impression in your mind.
Dolphins of Chilka Lake are among the endangered species and can be spotted only in Chilka in India.
Author: E Jey
Just a passionate traveler who loves scribbling his expeditions @ www.jauntmonkey.com, www.outonroads.com, and www.blogthatall.com