The Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary is regarded by many as the most unique and prolific natural paradise in India. The Sanctuary is located in the state of Orrisa enveloping Asia's largest inland salt-water lagoon encompassing a huge hilly area of 1,100 sq kms. This bird paradise is located about 100 kms to the southwest of the holy town of Puri where a stunning variety of avian, aquatic, reptilian and animal life make their home. The brackish waters of the lake abound in flora and it has been revealed that as many as nine lakhs migratory birds come here in the winters. The most commonly visible birds are Eagle, Geese and Flamingoes.
The Sanctuary is dotted with plenty of tiny islands that are a delight for the visitors. The most famous ones are the Honeymoon Island and Breakfast Island. Noted for its rich bio-diversity, Chilka has been acknowledged as a Ramsar site.
Main Attractions: Chilka is one of the most famous breeding grounds in India for Flamingoes though plenty of other bird species including the white-bellied sea eagles, jacana, purple moorhen, graylag geese and herons flock here. About 167 species of resident and migratory birds can be found here. In the Parikud and Malud islands, other species of exotic birds are seen in abundance.
The Sanctuary is also home to various different species of aquatic animals like Irrawaddy dolphin, prawns, crabs, the limbless lizard, crustaceans. About 225 different species of fish are also found here. Other animals found are the blackbuck, spotted deer, golden jackals and hyenas. The Nilgiri area of this sanctuary provides various sights of elephant herds more frequently during the summer season. The Satpara Island is popular as a dolphin-spotting site.
The Kalijai Temple where the presiding deity of Chilka is worshipped is another attraction.
When To Go: You can visit the sanctuary all the year round as the weather remains moderately warm throughout. However, the best time to visit is from October to March since the lake gets particularly crowded with as many as 50-70 species of migrating birds.
How To Get There: Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary is connected by road from Chilka, Puri, Behrampore, Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack. There are also buses from Balugaon and Rambha where the nearest railheads are located. The closest airport is Chilka which is approximately 120 km from Bhubaneshwar.
Where To Stay: With number of visitors coming each year, there are plenty of stay options within the park. There are hotels, inspection bungalows, private cottages of all budgets inside the Sanctuary. Alternatively, there are plenty of family holiday bungalows and wildlife resorts in the vicinity.