Had Snodgrass been born two centuries later, he might have kept his job and enjoyed his favourite lake. Thoughts of this East India Company official and his love for Chilika Lake floated to mind as I looked upon the serene expanse of water from a luxury villa in Swosti Chilika Resort.
Snodgrass, a collector of Ganjam district, erected an obelisk in the middle of the lake, probably in 1792. He built a small room next to the obelisk and would often hold office at the island. He was eventually sacked for mismanagement of revenue, but Beacon Island still sports Snodgrass’ obelisk and room.
Along Odisha’s coast, popularly known as Chilika Lake, this is India’s largest coastal lagoon. Spread over 1,100 sq. km, it connects to the Bay of Bengal through a narrow inlet. In 1981, Chilika was listed as the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. A biodiversity hotspot, it is home to many varieties of wildlife.
Chilika never became an international draw, partly because of the lack of any luxury stays. Now the Swosti Chilika Resort, located in a tranquil corner of the lake, has opened its doors. The resort, separated from the lake shore by a narrow road, offers an expansive view of Chilika.
Designed by a well-known Thai architectural firm, the nine-acre resort has 78 finely-crafted cottages, including luxury villas, ultra-modern luxury suites, pool villas and one presidential suite, all on a landscaped garden. While the lake is visible from nearly all corners of the resort, from the first-floor balconies, you can enjoy a wide view and watch it change colour as the sun crosses the sky.
Orana, the air-conditioned restaurant, provides local delicacies, sea food and international cuisine. There is also a cafe, the Beanhive Coffee Shop, centrally located under a thatched roof, opposite the amphitheatre. The resort boasts a spa, gym and yoga facilities, game zone, play area, conference facilities, amphitheatre and swimming pool with a bar and pool deck. It is also the first Green Building Certified Resort in Odisha.
This is a great base to explore the various corners of Chilika from. Winter is best for birding. To catch the Irrawaddy dolphin, try the early morning or late afternoon. Bicycle tours can be arranged by the resort. During my visit, I was lucky enough to catch boat builders at work.
Location: Swosti Chilika Resort, Odia Alapur, Gorapali, Ganjam, Chilika, Odisha. It is a 3-hour drive from Bhubaneswar. Biju Patnaik International Airport is the nearest airport.
Tariff: ₹ 6,000 (Mid-lake County), ₹ 18,000 (Windchimes), ₹ 35,000 (Mill Pond), ₹ 65,000 (The Sanctuary)
Contact: +91-93-38015588; swostichilikaresort.com