There is something magical about Chilika. The brackish water lagoon is a vast expanse of blue water, encircled by low undulating hills. Declared a Ramsar Wetland Site of International Importance in 1981, and popular both for its birds and dolphins, Chilika boasts of pristine natural beauty.

Things to See & Do
Chilika is best explored by boat and most of the popular destinations within the lagoon can be covered in a day. It is possible to hire boats from Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC). Guides can be hired from Barkul, Satpada, Rambha and Balugaon. Barkul is the most convenient base for exploring Chilika.

Speedboat fee ₹1,500 per hour (10-seater). Ferry services are run by the Inland Water Transport Department, from the mainland to the inhabited islands. There are many private boats as well. A visit to Nalabana and Kalijai may cost about ₹3,000 per hour (in a 10-seater)

Nalabana Bird Sanctuary
A dense habitat of thousands of resident and migratory birds, Nalabana Island is an ideal place to go birdwatching.

Tip Visitors are prohibited from alighting on the island and have to catch sights of birds from the boat

Courtesy Odisha Tourism
Flamingoes, one of the many avian species found at Chilika Lake
Flamingoes, one of the many avian species found at Chilika Lake

Kalijai Island Shrine
The abode of goddess Kalijai, the Kalijai island is perhaps the most frequented tourist site on the lake. This small rocky island houses a temple. Interestingly, apart from a priest and some staff in the temple, no one else inhabits the island.

Cruising at Mangalajodi
A cruise along the narrow waterways amidst a thick concentration of nala grass (a kind of weed) is a unique experience. Private boats can be hired for ₹400–500 per hour from the jetty at Mangalajodi with local guides (about ₹300 per trip), and food can be cooked and served on the boats on request.

Birdwatching at Brahmapura
The island fringed with casuarina groves, is an ideal place to unwind, relax and indulge in birdwatching.

Dolphin-spotting at Satpada
While Irrawady dolphins can be spotted in other parts of the lagoon (over 100 dolphins are estimated to reside here), the largest concentration is at Satpada. You can hire boats run by the OTDC (Tel: 06752-262077, 222664; Timings: 10.00am–2.00pm) to see them.

The Information

When to go October–February, when migratory birds arrive, is the best time to visit. Avoid the monsoon season

Tourist/ Wildlife offices

Chief Wildlife Warden, Prakruti Bhawan BDA Apartment, 5th Floor, Nilakantha Nagar, Nayapally, Bhubaneswar, Tel: 0674-2564587, 2565016

DFO, Chilika Wildlife Division, Balugaon PO, Khurda District, Tel: 06756-251125, Cell: 09437133489

Tourist Office, Govt of Odisha, Baghra Road, Near Pvt Bus Stand, Baripada, Tel: 06792-252710, odishatourism.gov.in

STD code 0674

Getting There

Air Nearest airport: Bhubaneswar (90km/ 3hrs to Barkul/ Chilika). Taxi costs about ₹3,000

Rail Nearest railhead: Balugaon (5km/ 20mins) is connected to Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Amritsar. Taxi costs ₹400

Road From Puri, take the Brahmagiri Road to Satpada entry point. Buses (₹35) and taxis (₹1,000–₹1,400) are available. From Bhubaneswar, take NH5 to Barkul, the other entry point to Chilika via Khurdha and Balugaon