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Chilika
 
Chilika
 

Chilka 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.

In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

According to a survey, 45 percent of the birds are terrestrial in nature, 32 percent are waterfowl, and 23 percent are waders. The Lagoon is also home to 14 types of raptors.Around 135 rare and endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins have also been reported. Plus, the lagoon supports about 37 species of reptiles and amphibians.

The highly productive chilika lagoon eco-system with its rich fishery resources sustains the livelihood for many fisher men who live in and near the Lagoon. The water spread area of the Lagoon ranges between 1165 to 906 km2 during the monsoon and summer respectively. A 32 km long, narrow, outer channel connects the lagoon to the Bay of Bengal, near the village Motto, recently a new mouth was opened by CDA which has brought a new lease of life to the lagoon.

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

Major Attractions

Nalaban Island: The 15 km2 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 island disappears during monsoon season due to inundation, and post-monsoon, the island emerges again.

The vast lake harbours 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.

Satpada: This place is located at a distance of around 55 km (34 mi) from Puri, on the eastern side of the Chilika Lake. This place is surrounded by lagoons from the three sides, which makes this place an amazing tourist spot for nature lover.

Eco-tourism

The open air and scenic natural flora and fauna of the lake are an attraction for eco-tourism. This is expected to provide a degree of alternate employment to the local community and generate environmental awareness, among local residents as well as visitors, about the conservation and wise use of the lake’s natural resources. The locations within the lake identified for such activity are:

Ramba Bay at the southern end of the lake with the group of islands including:

The Becon Island, with an architectural conical pillar (to put a light on the top) built by Mr. Snodgrass, the then collector of Ganjam of the East India Company, on a mass of rock in the Rambha Bay near Ghantasila hill. It has scenic water spread surrounded by the Eastern Ghat.

The Breakfast Island, pear shaped, known as "Sankuda island", with remnants of a dilapidated bungalow constructed by the King of Kalikote, has rare plants and is full of greenery with appealing flora.

Honeymoon Island, 5 km (3 mi) from Rambha Jetty, known as Barkuda Island, with clear waters has abundant red and green macro algae in the bed is also known for the limbless lizard, an endemic species found here.

Somolo and Dumkudi islands, located in the Central and Southern sectors of the lake, in the backdrop of scenic Khalikote hill range, are inundated remnants of the Eastern Ghats with rich flora and fauna and also known for sighting of Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Birds' island, located in the southern sector of the lake has huge exposed hanging rocks, are painted white due to folic acid of the droppings of the birds and is known for rich algal communities and few mangrove species and also migratory birds in winter.

Parikud is a group of composite islands in the Garh Krishnaprasad Block for nature lovers and provides an avian spectacle during winter season

Kalijai Temple located on an island is considered to be the abode of the Goddess Kalijai.This temple is located at a hill which is surrounded by the blue water bears. Local people of Chilika refer to goddess as the reigning deity of the lagoon

Satapada village, at the new mouth of the lake, provides a beautiful view of the Lake and also views of the Dolphins. Hundreds of boats here provide tours of the lake for tourists.

Barunkuda, a small island situated near Magarmukh, mouth of the lake, has a temple of Lord Varuna.

Nabagraha is an ancient deity located along the outer channel.

Chourbar Shiva Temple is located near Alupatna village, along the outer channel.

Manikpatna, located on the outer channel has historical evidence of a port which was used for trade with Far East and also has the Bhabakundeswar temple of Lord Shiva, an old Mosque whose entrance door is made of the jaws of the whale.

Sand-Bar and Mouth of the Lake is a striking and un-explored stretch of 30 km (20 mi) of empty beach across the sand bar which separates the Lake from the Sea.

Flora and fauna of Chilika
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    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilika_Lake
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