Bhubaneswar: With ban on ferry service lifted in Chilika, Asia’s largest saltwater lake, we list the top destinations inside the 1100 km2 paradise you must take a ride to this winter.
This vast marshy wetland is a birdwatcher’s delight. Millions of migratory birds from far-away places such as Siberia call it home for the winter months. Visitors can take an hour’s ride in a silent rowboat and view birds such as Northern Pintails, Glossy Ibis, Cranes, Flamingoes, Garganey and many others. The other avian hotspot is the protected Nalabana.
Barkul is one of the three places in Chilika where there are OTDC’s Panthanivas hotels. This is a popular spot from where tourists take a ferry ride to the island of Kalijai. Goddess Kali is worshipped here. Legend has it that a newly married girl, named Jaai was on her way to her husband’s place on an island. The boat on which she was travelling with her father, capsized due to bad weather. Everyone, other the girl survived. Her body was never located. She is henceforth worshipped as the Goddess of the people.
Twenty five km ahead of Barkul lies the serene Rambha. The Panthanivas located here offers boat rides to the lovely islands located on the lake alongside mountains. The first stop is Breakfast Island, a small yellow-coloured shed with a lighthouse type structure where officers used to come and have tea during the British era. The second spot is the rocky Ghanta Sila island where there is a small cave of Lord Shiva. A 20-minute ride from there is Bird’s Island, which houses a huge dinosaur statue. One can trek up the rocks to enjoy a breathtaking view of the surroundings. Apart from these, visitors can also go to Honeymoon Island and Sankuda Island.
On the other side of Chilika in Puri district is Satpada where one can sight Irrawaddy Dolphins and go to an island on the mouth of the sea. Satpada is accessible from Puri via road or a seven-hour ferry ride from Rambha/Barkul.
Apart from the breathtaking view of the sunset and calming boat rides, Chilika also offers a fabulous range of unique seafood. So be sure to gorge on crabs and prawns, which are available at Chilika Dhaba, both Panthanivas, Swosti Chilika Resort and a few dhabas on the road.
Chilika Lake is roughly 2.5 hours away from Bhubaneswar by road.