Chilka Lake is the largest inland salt-water lagoon. It is situated in the South-west of the Puri district of the Indian state of Orissa. It is around 100 km away from the Capital of Orissa, Bhubaneswar. The picturesque natural beauty of the belt of the lake and the bird sanctuary constituted here are the major attractions of the region. It is studded with many small islands; two of them are also called Breakfast Island and Honeymoon Island. A sandy bridge separates Chilka Lake from the Bay of Bengal.
Chilka Lake is a pear shaped lake spread over the extensive area of 1,100 sq. km. and is famous for a unique ecosystem rich with a range of aquatic flora and fauna. Hundreds of different species of birds, both native and migrant make Chilka a paragon for bird watching.
Various types of animals and birds found near the Chilka Lake have always been a topic of exhaustive study for bird watchers. Representatives of the various groups of animal kingdom ensure their presence in the forests of Chilka Lake. These groups include Polyzoa, Porifera, Protozoa, Coelenterata, Isopoda, Echiura, Chaetognatha, Platyhelminthes, Insecta, Crustacea, Archinida and Mollusca to Fishes, Reptiles, Amphibians, mammals and birds.
Greylag Geese, Jacana, white bellied sea eagles, purple moorhen, flamingos and herons are among the prominent species of birds found here. Chilka boasts to be the home to one of the world's largest breeding colonies of flamingos.
As many as 158 species of fishes and prawns have so far been recorded in the region. Moreover crabs like Scylla Serrata and Neptunus Pelagicus are found in plenty. Innumerable amphibian reptiles like snakes, lizards, crocodiles and turtles are seen. Limbless Skinks has also been an amazing discovery in this area. Dolphins grow profusely in the water near Satapada-Magarmukha area and also between Kalijai and Balugaon. In addition to these, spotted deer, fox, jungle cat, hare, pachyura, bat, mongoose, squirrels, blackbuck, hyenas, monkeys and porcupine are some of the prominent species of animals are found here in the Chilka region.
Location: Puri, Orissa, India
Nearest City: Bhubaneswar
Climate: Usually dry but still pleasant during winter as temperature ranges between 20 0 and 30 0C.
Best time to visit: Any time. Tourists generally prefer winter time to visit.
By Road: Chilka Lake is well connected to Puri, Bhubaneswar, Behrampore, Hyderabad, Cuttack and Chennai by well built roads.
By Air: Nearest Airport: Bhubaneswar which lies just 120 km from Chilka.
By Railhead: Rambha and Balugaon are the nearest railheads.
There are a few hotels standing on the banks of Chilka Lake which offer good accommodation facilities. OTDC hotel too is available here. Moreover there is a tourist bungalow as well with all the necessary amenities. A number of private rest-houses and tourist lodges too offer the lodging and boarding facilities. Many of them are reasonable; some are dear as well.
All in all Chilka Lake is a must visit place for nature lovers and bird watchers. You too must plan a trip to the sanctuary as a part of the exploration of India.