Sights to See
Chilika Lake, a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha, at the mouth of the Daya River, flows into the Bay of Bengal, which makes it the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world. Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1981.
The lake contains several islands, such as Kalijai, Abode of Island Goddess; Kalijai; Nalabana (Forest of Reeds); Brahmaputra; Breakfast island, Honeymoon Islands; Birds island; Parikud and Malud; and Satpada.
To visit various islands, particularly Kalijai and Nalabana as well as to cruise on the Chilika Lake, motorised yacht and speed boat services are available at fixed rates. Contact: Manager, Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC), Panthaniwas, Barkul and Rambha. Also launches run by the Revenue Department are available at Balugaon. Country boats can be obtained from private operators at these places and at Satpada as well.
Chilika Lake is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. You can spot birds such as white bellied sea eagles, greylag geese, purple moorhen, jacana, herons and flamingos, egrets, gray and purple herons, Indian roller, storks and white ibis, spoonbills, brahminy ducks, shovellers and pintails, and more.
The lake harbours the “aquatic vegetation” of its own and is typically represented by Algal forms. A numbers of Diatoms/Phytoplanktons and a few species of brackish water submerged phaneromags like potamogetan pectinatus, Halphila ovalis, Ruppia martima, Naja faveolata, Hydrilla verticellata and Cratophyllum, as well as some floating plants like Eichhornia crassipes, Pistia stratious and azolla pinnata, etc.
The community of Schoenoplectus littoral is in association with Eleo-charis, Phragmitec karka, Myrostachya wightii and many other grasses and sedges also exist in shallow muddy areas. Species like salicornia brachiata, suaeda, maritime, sesuvium, portulacastrum, phyla nodiflora, Heliotropum, curssavicum and some other occur in marshes and salt fields along the edges and other shallow areas .The present scanty littoral and scrub jungles on lake margin islands and rocky faces are represented by spices like salvadora presica, pongamia pinnata, Colubrina asiatica, Cassipourea ceylonica, Aegiceras corniculatum,Azima tetracantha,Pisonia aculeate, Clerodendron inerme, Carmona retusa, Carissa spinarumm, Createva spinarumm, Meytinus emarginatus, Opuntia dillenii, Ficus spp, Lepisanthes tetraphylla, streblus asper, etc. A number of climbers/twiners and herbaceous ground flora are also found. The dunes and sandy areas of the beaches near lake have the floral composition of their own, favoured in the conditions they offer. The land lying between the sea and lagoon exhibits rich growth of casuarinas equisetifolia, planted by the Forest Department.
There is a wide variety of animal life forms representing various groups of the animal kingdom (ranging from protozoa, porifera, polyzoa, brachiopoda, coelenterata,ctenophora, lsopoda, echiura, spiuncula, chaetognatha annelida, amphibians, reptiles birds and mammals).
Around 158 spices of fishes and prawns have so far been recorded. Crabs like Scylla serrate are Neptunus pelagicus are the predominated types available here. Oyster (Ostrea talpur, Arca, Meritix, etc.) occurs in small patches. Countless types of amphibians, reptiles, snake, lizards, turtles and crocodiles are found here. The discovery of the limbless skink, a rare reptile, which was reported first time in Barakudia Island by Annandale, has increased the significance to this place.
Dolphins have been reported mostly near the Satapada-Magarmukha area and occasionally between Kalijai and Balugoan. Other mammals reported from small pockets in the surrounding hills/forests/scattered islands and amidst the vegetation of sandy facing Chilika and the sea include black buck, spotted dear, fox, jackal, hyena, jungle cat, hare, rat, pachyura, common bat, otter, common mongoose, monkey, porcupine, etc.