|It is situated 100 kms far from Bhubaneshwar, this lake covering an area of 900 sq. km, is Asia's largest salt and fresh water lake. It welcomes a large number of migratory birds, like the flamingo, teal, bar headed goose, shoveller and white - bellied sea eagle. For bird-lovers, Chilika is best visited in winter when the migratory populations wing in from places as far as Siberia.
Other than the birds, Chilka's shores are home to blackbuck, spotted deer, golden jackals and hyenas, and the lake is rich in aquatic life- its waters harbour around 160 species of fish, crustaceans and other marine creatures, including the famous Chilka dolphin.
Prawn, crab and mackerel fishing are an important source of livelihood for the local people, and hundreds of small fishing boats set sail each morning to bring in the day's catch from the lake. he Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve harbours India?s second largest pachyderm population, and the chances of seeing elephant herds is pretty high, especially during the dry season.
The surrounding hills and sandy stretches abound in cheetals, blackbucks, monkeys, fishing cats, mongoose and porcupines and a dolphin population cavorting joyfully near the channel meeting the sea. Snakes and turtles, lizards and cobras inhabit the surrounding beach area and wooded undergrowth.
The best time, however, is from October to March, when the lake is crowded with migrating birds, usually at least 50-70 species. Pilgrims flock here in January during Makar Mela (at the time of Makar Sankranti) to pay obeisance to the Goddess Kalijai, whose temple is situated on Kalijai island in Chilka Lake.