7. Water sports at Chilka Lake
This honeymooner‘s paradise is Asia’s largest & biggest inland water lake, stretching across the length of the three districts of Puri, Khurdha & Ganjam in Odisha. It opens to the Bay of Bengal through a narrow mouth forming an enormous lagoon of brackish water. Spread over an area of 1,100 sq. km, it was declared a sanctuary in 1987. A survey of the fauna of Chilka carried out by the Zoological Survey of India in 1985-87 recorded over 800 species in and around the lagoon. This list includes a number of rare,
threatened and endangered species, including the Barakudia limbless skink. On account of its rich bio-diversity,
Chilika was designated as a “Ramsar Site”, i.e. a wetland of International Importance. The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, the National Wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, have also identified the lagoon as a priority site for conservation and management. The Lagoon is a highly productive ecosystem, with rich fishery resources. The rich fishing ground sustain the livelihood of more than 0.15 million fisherfolk who live in and around the Lagoon.
Home to a rich variety of aquatic fauna and hotspot of biodiversity, Chilka supports some of the largest congregation of migratory birds in the country, particularly during the winter. Flocks of migratory waterfowl arrive from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea, remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and South East Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas, to feed and breed in its fertile waters. It’s reported that around 205 species of birds can be noticed at the lake.
The fabulous beauty of Chilka which has inspired poets to sing its glory and which can be best enjoyed from Balugaon, Barkul, Rambha and Satpada must be seen to be believed. The atmosphere is just serene and undisturbed amidst the blue expanse of water on one side and an evergreen range of hills on the other. For an aquatic adventure lover, Chilka provides one of the choicest places with a variety of activities. The water sports include sailing, rafting, wind surfing, kayaking, canoeing and rowing. Barkul is the best place to experience such sports with INS Chilka is just a stone’s through away.
How to reach there
Bhubaneswar is the state capital and is well connected with road, rail and air. Barkul is around 100 kms from the state capital on National Highway 5.
Where to stay:
The best place to stay in Barkul is Panthanivas run by Odisha Tourism Development Council (OTDC).
Best time to visit:
Though the lake & the area is open throughout the year, October to January is the best time to visit.