Chilka is the world’s second largest and India’s largest lagoon. Thousands of people visit the brackish water lake but due to lack of information or time, miss these amazing views. The Chilka area is huge – it covers 1100 sq km and has five major islands and many smaller ones within the lagoon.
When one goes to Chilka it is imperative that you take the boats and definitely travel to Sea Mouth. You can share a boat or rent it all for yourself. The Sea mouth is the place referring to the piece of land which remains submerged during the high tide. At low tide, it gets accessible and it becomes a beautiful island full of tiny lakes and crabs.
You would find it difficult to guess that this is not a real island with all the chairs that makeshift shops selling daab (tender coconut) put up. You can also sit and relish fresh fried prawns. There are some local divers who swim out with oysters and break those open for its pearl for anyone willing to buy it. However don’t get stuck here, the real beauty is just on the opposite side.
As you look around it would seem like a desert with sands all around but just walk half a kilometer to the other side of the island. This is where the waters of the Bay of Bengal meet the temporary shores. The water is clear aqua blue and would make the Caribbean waters feel jealous. With starfish and jellyfish randomly getting washed in and away from the beach, it is a sin to miss this place. Be careful to tread the water though as this beautiful beach is full of quicksand.
Red Crab Island
Many tourists miss this place but this is real fun if you get down from the boat. Ask your boat operator to take you to the Red crab island during the booking of the boat. When you reach the island most people don’t get down for fear of drenching the clothes. When the boat gets anchored in the sands of the place, roll up your jeans, and jump into the knee depth waters with your boatman.
Your boatman knows how to dig the sand and get the crabs out. These crabs can give a good bite but no worries if you learn how to hold them from your boatman and get some proud clicks. The water’s clear, the sand’s golden in daylight and it makes wonderful clicks for an amazing trip.
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The Chilka Lake is home to the Irrawady dolphin, which is a river dolphin and one of the few dolphins in the world to be found in rivers. They look a bit different from the dolphins that you generally see in TV – these are darker in colour and wild. While you go towards the Sea Mouth in the boat, you are sure to spot these. However, they maintain a distance from the boats due to the sound pollution emitted by the motor.
These dolphins have a special role to play – they help the fishermen to catch the fish. They drive the shoals of fish towards the nets and the fishermen thabk them by offering a few of the catch. Most interesting is the fact that no one has taught them to do so, nor are they trained. They just share a mutual understanding with the humans.
Birds migrate from all around the world in winters and this becomes a traveller’s delight. If you visit any other time you will definitely find exotic birds in the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary Island. Not only do you find the sea birds like sea gulls and herons and storks but also you may get a chance to see the Brahminy kite and other predatory birds. If you have patience for awesome bird watching then try Manglajodi where you would get a ‘soundless’ boat. Manglajodi is a part of Chilka with wetlands and swamps teeming with bird and wildlife. In winter it gets better with the migratory birds flying in and making it a paradise.
In the vast area of the Chilka is another lesser known place called the Rushikulya beach. People who keep an ear on conservation news may know it, this is the heavenly ground where the Olive Ridleys come to beach. To reach here you would have to stay overnight at Rambha at Chilka or at Barkul. When you go to Rishikulya beach there is absolutely no hotel, shack or sign of humans. Please leave it that way.
If you arrange your trip at the right time in the winters you have a chance to see hundreds of turtles coming to lay their eggs. After around 40 days these start to hatch and the shore is filled with these tiny ones.
This is a scene of such global importance and ecological harmony that after witnessing this scene first hand, you have definitely outdone your fellow adventurers.
Image credits: rctravels.wordpress.com,www.myberhampur.com, trekearth.com, hindustantimes.com, blog.travelwithsmile.com,www.conservationindia.org
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