For quite some time during my childhood, we used to live in Bangalore (Bengaluru) and that means regular train travel since air travel was simply out of the question. One of the highlights of the train travel was when the train traveled right next to Chilka Lake. We as a family did quite a few trips to Puri but somehow always skipped a trip to Chilka. Forever I wanted to see the Dolphins and of course the charm of a long boat ride.
Every time the train would pass Chilka Lake I would peep outside the window trying to get a good look at it. Since only a small portion of the lake can be visible from the moving train thus the beautiful scenery would just zoom past. I would wish that someday I would get the opportunity to see the lake for real.
So when I got invited by Sterling Resorts along with few other bloggers to have a different experience I was super excited when I came to know later that the trip would include a day trip to Chilka Lake. This was like one of my childhood dreams coming true.
The day trip was planned for day two and after a quick morning breakfast the group of bloggers set out in three different vehicles towards Chilka Lake. The road is well paved and being a weekday had very less traffic. The only traffic hurdles that we found were the hundreds of cows that randomly sit in the middle of the road right in between traffic. No amount of honking can move them thus it’s for the drivers to go past them. With a recent spell of rain, the weather was just perfect with a cloudy sky it was just what you wanted for a day out in open waters.
We reaching Satapada Garh which is less than an hour’s drive from Chilka where there is a jetty from where usually all the tour boats depart. There is also a Yatri Nivas near the waterfront which is currently undergoing renovation and once ready would be a perfect place to spend a night next to the lake.
Now here is a disclaimer even though I love the thought of going for a long boat ride honestly I am very scared of a boat ride only for the reason that I can’ swim. This fear was unfound when I got to see that all tourist boats have life jackets for all the occupants.
The jetty at Chilka looks really modern with several concrete piers which can support several boats together. There are both motor boats as well as boats with oars while motor boats are mainly used for tourists the later they are preferred by the fisherman. Chilka is the largest coastal lagoons in India and the second largest in the world thus don’t be surprised to see a lot of traffic on the waterways also. In the distance you will be able to see large vessels loaded with human as well as heavy motor vehicles crossing the water.
The first part of the trip was to visit a particular area within the lake where its known to have a population of Irrawaddy Dolphins. Unlike the black and white ocean dolphins, these are greyish in color thus extremely difficult to spot in the waters of the lake. The boatmen usually know their location as according to them there is only a particular area within the lake that the dolphins usually roam around.
These dolphins are very shy and you have to be extremely vigilant to spot one. We were lucky to spot two of them but photographing them was a challenge since the rocking boats made it almost impossible to focus properly. Moreover, the sounds of the boat engines usually scare them away thus the sighting is all upon chance.
Our final destination was to reach the Rajhans Island Picnic Spot which you need to navigate with a boat and reach. It’s a narrow strip of the sand island from where you can reach the Chilka Sea Mouth. Another attraction of this island is the numerous food shacks that sell prawns, fish, crabs, and other seafood. All of which are cut, cleaned and cooked right in front of you and served hot.
On crossing the Island, you get to the sea front but this is not a place where you can swim since the beach is at an extreme slope and the sea gets deep within few steps. However, the scenery is absolute serene with very few people venturing this part of the lagoon.
The ride back was equally interesting as we could spot many wild fishing cats lurking around the bushed amongst the numerous islands. These creatures are very shy and a hint of humans will send them running for cover.
Overall this can be a full day tour of Chilka keeping some time to enjoy the nature absolutely to yourself.
Tips for A Day Trip to Chilka Lake
– Make sure the boat has adequate life jackets for all the occupants
– Carry sunscreen lotion as you need to travel on open waters for long
– A sun hat is always recommended
– Carry adequate drinking water as the bottled water available at the food shacks can be expensive
– Carry light eatables for the journey especially if you have young children
– If you are allergic to seafood stay away from the prawns and crabs
– Absolute no bathing at the sea beach
– Keep the island clean by not littering around. Carry back the empty packets and bottles back to the boat
This whole adventure of a day trip to Chilka Lake was planned and organized by Sterling Resorts and I would surely recommend anyone traveling to have this in their itinerary. This really goes perfectly with the theme of #HolidayDifferently.