Chilika Lake

Chilika Lake  is a brackish waterlagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India. The lagoon is at the mouth of the Daya River, and flows into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of over 1100 square kilometers. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world after Grand Lagoon Sud in New Caledonia. The lake is the home to the endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins, numerous rare species of birds and about 37 species of reptiles and amphibians. The lake is an ecosystem with large fishery resources. It sustains more than 150000 fisher folk living across 132 villages on the shore and islands. The water spread area of the Lagoon ranges between 1165 to 906 square kilometers during the monsoon and summer respectively. A 32 kilometer long, narrow, outer channel connects the lagoon to the Bay of Bengal, near the village Motto. The water of the lagoon is brackish so a number of micro algae, marine seaweeds, salt water fishes and crabs can also be seen in it. Apart from the DayaRiver, the Mahanadi and its distributaries also feed freshwater to the lake.

There is something immensely soothing and magical about Chilika. The brackish water lagoon is vast expanse of blue water, dotted by low undulating hills, with the loud chirping of birds and gentle splash of water combining to create a dreamy taste.

Oriya is the main language here in this region.

Travel Tips

Before entering into the Nalbana Bird Sanctuary one has to obtain an entry permit. The entry permit has to be produced at entry or exit points, at check gates as and whenever requested by officials. Also, it is better to stay in Puri and hire a car to go to Chilika. It is a smooth road from Puri to Chilika and will take about one and a half hour.

When to visit

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • July
  • Aug
  • Sept
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
sprinkles Cold
  • 24.8° Max
  • 15.6° Min
  • 0.0 mm
  • Carry Heavy woollen.
Things to do

What draws numerous tourists to the Chilika Lake every year is the variety of flora and fauna that the lake is home to. Some of these are quite rare. It houses more than 400 species of vertebrates, over a million migratory waterfowls and shorebirds and a unique assemblage of marine, brackish and freshwater species. The Nalabana Bird sanctuary is located on the Nalabana Island that forms the core of the Chilika wetlands area. Large flocks of Greater flamingos from Iran and the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, feed in the shallow waters of the lake. The lesser flamingos, Goliath Heron, Grey herons and Purple herons, Egrets, Spoonbills, Storks and Black-headed Ibis are some of the other long legged birds that can be seen in the area. Rare species of birds like Asiatic Dowitchers, Dalmatian Pelican, Pallas's Fish-eagles, the very rare migrant Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Spot billed pelican can also be seen here. All in all, Chilika is a bird enthusiast’s own slice of paradise. Apart from rare birds, the lake is also home to up to six endangered species of fish. The Irrawady Dolphins playing in the lake are a treat to the eyes and a glimpse of the threatened species of Blackbuck is a real stroke of luck. There are boat services to traverse the lake in the SatapadaIsland. Other places of attraction include the Kalijai temple, dedicated to the local goddess and the various islands of the Ramba Bay. The island of Manikpatna is famous for its ancient port, the Bhabakundeswar temple of Lord Shiva and an old Mosque, the entrance door of which is made out of the jaws of a whale.

Chilika is best explored by boat and most of the popular destinations within the lagoon can be covered in a day.


Getting Around

Within the lake precincts, Odisha Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (OTDC) and the Revenue Department of the state government offer boat cruises. Private operators also provide country boats on hire to various islands in the lake. The major hub for the country boat operators is the island of Satapada.

Places to Stay

There are OTDC Guest houses at Barkul, Rambha, Satapada and a few hotels at Balugaon. There are also numerous hotels, both budget and luxury, in Puri and Bhubaneshwar. If one is looking for a greater number of choices, it is advisable to lodge in Puri. Otherwise, for budget accommodation, the Yatri Niwas at Satapada is a sound choice. It is located near the lake and is surrounded by a nice garden. The rooms are fairly plain but otherwise good. The mid-range Panthanivas Barkul Hotel has clean, comfortable rooms set in a pleasant garden. Air-conditioned rooms are also available but these are more expensive.

How to Reach

  • The nearest international as well as domestic airport is in Bhubaneshwar that is 100 kilometers from Chilika. From Bhubaneshwar, trains and road transport is available to Chilika.
  • A broad gauge railway line of the South Eastern Railway from Kolkata skirts along the western bank of the lake passing through Balugaon, Chilika and Rambha stations. The other option is taking a train to Bhubaneshwar and then taking the East Coast Express or the Inter City Express from Bhubaneshwar to Chilika.
  • The lake is well connected by road to Chennai and Kolkata through National Highway No 5. However, going by road implies chartering ones own car. Buses and taxis are available from Cuttack, Bhubaneshwar, Puri and Behrampur.

Surrounding Attractions

The closest spot of attraction to the Chilika Lake is the city of Puri. This holy city is famous for the late 11th century Jagannath temple rumored to be built by Lord Viswakarma. The other major attraction in Puri 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 and vice versa. The Nirmaljhar Waterfall is an ideal place to pitch a picnic tent. The beautiful waterfall is located nearly 12 kilometers from Chilika Lagoon and is the ideal spot for a day picnic. The Konark Sun Temple at Konark is a beautiful example of Kalinga architecture and a world heritage site as declared by UNESCO. This temple is only 81 kilometers from Chilika and ideal for a day’s journey. The Nandankanan Zoological Park is also a great attraction for the visitors of Chilika. The park is located approximately 119 kilometers from Chilika towards Bhubaneshwar and can be reached in approximately two and a half hours. However, arranging for one’s own car is a necessity.

Emergency No.

Capital Hospital: 2400688

Police Control Room: 2403399

SCB Medical Ambulance: 2614499