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The vast and dream like Chilika Lagoon is situated on the east-coast of India.Nesling in the heart of coastal Odisha, Chilika is India’s biggest inland lake. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent. The total number of fish species are reported to be 225 (Dean and Saaltink, 1991). Along with a variety of phytoplankton, algae and aquatic plants, the Lake region also supports over 350 species of non-aquatic plants (Panda and Pattnaik, 1988).By a recent phytodiversiy survey by CDA ( 2002) 710 number of plants identified from Chilika( within the waterbody, including the Islands and shoreline plants) .A survey of the fauna of Chilika 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. Spread over 1,100 square kilometres, it runs along the borders of three districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam and finally joins the Bay of Bengal through a narrow mouth, forming an enormous lagoon of brackish water.Chilika is a shallow lagoon with estuarine character. It can be divided in to four ecological sectors i.e. the Northern, Cental, Southern and Outer Channel. The major part of the lagoon (the Nothern sector) has a depth of less than 50 cm, while the maximum depth of 3.7m is encountered in the central sector. The link between the lagoon and the outer channel (Muggermukh) was 20cm and was preventing the exchange of water between sea and the lagoon. The pear-shaped lagoon is about 64.5 km long and its width varies from 18 km to 5 km (Das and Samal 1988). The lagoon is connected to sea by a 32 km long, channel with several shoal restricting the flow and head loss . About 1.5 km wide, the channel runs parallel to the Bay of Bengal and is separated from it by a narrow spit whose width very between 100m to several kilometers. The channel opens to the sea near village Motto which is extremely narrow .Recently a new mouth was opened by CDA which is only 14 Kms away from the lagoon.Dotted with many emeralds green, islands with colourful names such as Honeymoon Island and Breakfast Island, Chilika is home to a rich variety of aquaticfauna. It is also a sanctuary and winter resort for migratory birds, some comingfrom asfar as Siberia.Containing a large variety offish, the lakeprovides livelihood to thousands offishennen. Hundreds of boats sail out daily on the lake’s blue expanse in search of mackerel, prawn and crabs- the sight providing an insight into the pageant of rural India at its colourful best.Encircled by hills all along its arched shape shores Chilika lake’s colour changes with passing clouds and the shifting sun. The water ripples languidly, occasionally dancing with the breeze from across the Bay of Bengal.Attractions Within the LakeNalabanaAn asylum for long-range migrants in winter .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.Birds IslanuiA haven for resident and migratory birdsKalijaiAbode of the island Goddess “Kalijai”SatapadaAn ideal place for viewing cavorting dolphinsBrahmapuraA place of scenic beauty.Parikud & MaludColourful islands within the lakeExcursionsNirmala Jhar – (11 km from Rambha and 21 km from Barkul)A place of religious worship as well as a picnic spot of great interest.Narayani – (10 km from Barkul and 22 km from Rambha)By the side of a perennial stream, the shrine of Goddess Narayani adorns the place. It is also an ideal place for pleasure and relaxation.Banpur – (13 km from Barkul and 8 km from Balugaon)A centre of religious activities revolving the time-honoured shrines of Goddess Lbati and Dakshya-Prajapati.Taptapani – (125 km from Barkul and 100 km from Rambha)A pleasant health resort with a hot sulphur spring having medicinal properties. The water of the spring is channelised to bath – tubs of the Panthanivas for steam-bath.Gopalpur – On – Sea – (75 km from Barkul and 60 km from Rambha)An ancient sea-port, it is at present a favourite seaside resort.How To Reach There ApproachAir :Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport – 105 km from Barkul and 130 km from Rambha and 110 km from Satapada. Indian Airlines has flights from Delhi, Calcutta, Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai.Rail :The Calcutta – Chennai rail route of South Eastern Railway touches Chilika lake of Balugaon, Chilika, Khallikote and Rambha. The nearest Railway Station for Barkul is at Balugaon (5 km) and for Satapada, at Puri (50 km).Road :The Chennai bound N.H.No.5 linking Calcutta – Cuttack – Bhubaneswar – Balugaon – Barkul – Rambha – Berhampur and Visakhapatnam runs along the lake.Buses and taxis to Chilika are available at Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Berhampur. Autorickshaws are available at Balugaon for Barkul.
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