Chilika Lake, situated in the eastern state of Odisha in India, is one of the largest brackish water lagoons in the world. With an area of over 1,100 square kilometers, the lake is a natural wonder that attracts a large number of tourists every year. The lake is not only a major tourist attraction but also a critical ecosystem that supports a diverse range of flora and fauna.
Important Points of Chilika Lake
- Chilka Lake is a large inland saltwater lagoon situated near Satapada in Odisha, India.
- It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second-largest saltwater lagoon in the world after the New Caledonian barrier reef in New Caledonia.
- The lake is surrounded by small islands, including Honeymoon Island and Breakfast Island.
- It is an ecosystem with large fishery resources that sustain over 150,000 fisherfolk living in 132 villages along the shore and islands.
- In 1981, Chilka Lake has designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
- Chilika Lake Sanctuary is one of the most supportive ecosystems in the region, supporting a wide variety of flora and fauna.
- The lake is a popular wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian subcontinent, attracting birds from various parts of the world.
- Among the many bird species that can be spotted at Chilika Lake are the White-bellied Sea Eagle, Graylag Geese, Purple Moorhen, Jacana, Herons, and Flamingos.
- Chilika Lake is home to one of the world’s largest breeding colonies of Flamingos.
- The lake is also home to the Irrawaddy dolphins, which are different from other dolphins in terms of their color and dorsal fin.
- The region is also home to various wild animals, including Blackbuck, Golden Jackals, Spotted Deer, and Hyenas.
- The Kalijai Temple is a famous tourist attraction near the Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary, dedicated to Goddess Kalijai.
- Makar Sankranti is celebrated with great pomp and cheer at the temple, attracting numerous travelers and devotees.
Geography and Geology of Chilika Lake
|Location||The average depth of 2.5 meters, varies depending on location and season|
|Altitude||0 to 2 meters above sea level|
|Area||The average depth of 2.5 meters, varies depending on location and season|
|Separation||Separated from the Bay of Bengal by a 60 km long sandbar, known as the Chilika Barrier Island|
|Districts||Spread over three districts of Odisha, namely Puri, Khurda, and Ganjam|
|Depth||Average depth of 2.5 meters, varies depending on location and season|
|Islands||Nalabana Island is the largest and is a designated wildlife sanctuary. Other islands include Honeymoon Island and Kalijai Island|
|Geological Formation||Chilika Lake is a lagoon that was formed due to the shifting of the sandbar and accumulation of sediments.|
Top Attractions in Chilika Lake
Some of the top attractions in Chilika Lake are:
- Chilika Lake: The main attraction of the area is the Chilika Lake, which is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second-largest saltwater lagoon in the world. The lake is a popular destination for birdwatchers and nature lovers, and it is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.
- Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary: The Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area surrounding the lake, and it is home to numerous species of migratory birds, as well as rare and endangered animals like the Irrawaddy dolphin.
- Honeymoon Island: One of the many small islands in the Chilika Lake, Honeymoon Island is a beautiful spot for couples and tourists to relax and enjoy the serene surroundings.
- Breakfast Island: Another island in the lake, Breakfast Island is named after the famous breakfast served here, which is a popular attraction for tourists.
- Kalijai Temple: Located near the Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary, the Kalijai Temple is dedicated to the goddess Kalijai and is a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus. The temple offers beautiful views of the lake and is also a popular spot for cultural events.
- Satapada: A popular tourist spot near Chilika Lake, Satapada is known for its beautiful beaches, boating, and dolphin watching.
- Barkul: Located on the eastern side of Chilika Lake, Barkul is a beautiful spot for birdwatching, water sports, and enjoying the local seafood.
Overall, Chilika offers a unique and diverse range of attractions for tourists, from natural wonders like the lake and wildlife sanctuary to cultural sites like the Kalijai Temple.
Flora & Fauna
|Aquatic Plants||Hydrilla, Potamogeton, Najas, Ceratophyllum, etc.||Crab, Shrimp, Prawn, Mullet, Hilsa, Mackerel, Pomfret, Catfish, etc.|
|Birds||Flamingo, Pelican, Bar-Headed Goose, Brahminy Duck, Spot-Billed Pelican, Sandpiper, etc.||Indian Roller, Parakeet, Crow Pheasant, Jacana, etc.|
|Mammals||Irrawaddy Dolphin, Fishing Cat, Black Buck, Spotted Deer, Golden Jackal, etc.||Olive Ridley Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Python, King Cobra, etc.|
|Reptiles||Indian Python, Monitor Lizard, Indian Chameleon, etc.||Olive Ridley Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Water Monitor Lizard, etc.|
Chilika Lake is a major tourist destination in Odisha. The lake attracts tourists from all over the world who come to witness the lake’s unique ecology and to enjoy the various activities offered by the lake.
One of the main attractions of Chilika Lake is the bird sanctuary located on Nalabana Island. The island is home to several species of migratory birds, including flamingos, pelicans, and cranes. Visitors can take a boat ride to the island to witness the birds in their natural habitat.
Boating is another popular activity at Chilika Lake. Visitors can take a boat ride to explore the lake and its various islands. The boat ride is also an excellent opportunity to spot the Irrawaddy dolphins.
The lake’s location near the coast also makes it an ideal destination for beach lovers. The lake is surrounded by several beaches, including Puri Beach, which is one of the most popular beaches in Odisha.
Significance of Chilika Lake
Chilika Lake is a significant and unique ecosystem that provides various benefits to the environment and the people living in the surrounding areas. Here are some of the significance of Chilika Lake:
- Biodiversity: Chilika Lake is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna, including over 160 species of fish, hundreds of species of birds, and several species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. It is considered one of the most biodiverse places in the world and is a crucial habitat for several endangered and rare species.
- Fishery Resources: The lake is a significant fishery resource and supports more than 150,000 fishermen and their families, who live in 132 villages surrounding the lake. The lake contributes significantly to the local economy, and the fish caught here are sent to markets across the state and the country.
- Birdwatching: Chilika Lake is a paradise for birdwatchers, with over 800,000 migratory birds visiting the lake every year. The lake is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds in the Indian subcontinent, and many rare and endangered bird species can be found here, making it a popular tourist destination for nature lovers.
- Ramsar Site: In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated as the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. This recognition highlights the ecological significance of the lake and ensures its protection and conservation.
- Tourism: The lake is a significant tourist attraction and draws visitors from across the world to witness its unique ecosystem, wildlife, and natural beauty. Tourism in the area contributes to the local economy, and several initiatives have been taken to promote eco-tourism and sustainable tourism practices in the area.
- Climate Regulation: Chilika Lake acts as a natural regulator of the local climate, providing a cooling effect in the surrounding areas during the hot summer months. The lake also helps maintain the local water table and supports agriculture in the region.
Overall, Chilika Lake is a vital ecosystem that provides a range of benefits, from supporting local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation to promoting tourism and regulating the local climate.
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Chilika Lake is a natural wonder that is not only a major tourist attraction but also a critical ecosystem. The lake’s unique geography and diverse microhabitats support a wide range of flora and fauna, making it a hotspot for biodiversity. However, the lake is under threat from various human activities, and it is essential to take steps to conserve the lake’s ecology.
Efforts by the government of Odisha, NGOs, and the local communities around the lake have helped to protect the lake’s biodiversity and raise awareness about its ecological significance. However, more needs to be done to address the threats to the lake’s ecosystem and ensure its long-term conservation.
Chilika Lake is not only a natural wonder but also a testament to the importance of conserving our planet’s ecological diversity. As we continue to face the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, the conservation of ecosystems like Chilika Lake becomes all the more important.