To tell you the truth dear readers, my main purpose of visiting Puri was to visit the Jagannath Temple and Konark Sun temple. I was anxious and eager on 21st Feb to start off for Konark the very next day early morning to catch the first rays of the Sun on the black Pagoda. That temple’s real beauty is when the first slight shimmering golden rays of the morning Sun fall on top of the black pagoda like temple. They say it looks out of this world! But the locals were asserting that I must not at all skip seeing Chilika Lake before I leave Puri. Well, I knew it was worth visiting but in winter season I thought when I could see many, many exotic birds from as far as Caspian, Balkan and Mediterranean Seas besides from the upper heights of the Himalayas.
And after observing on 22nd Feb morning that the mornings are misty in Puri these days, I changed my plan and decided to go to Chilika Lake just after seeing the Sunrise at the beach on that day. I should admit that I have no regrets for changing my schedule at all because though I saw a few birds but then I was able to see the Irrawaddy Dolphins closely in the far off part of that lake. This lake is about fifty kms from Puri and takes one and a half to two hours time one way by car. Best time to visit early morning.
Now Chilka is a brackish water lagoon, the largest in India and second largest in the world. Brackish means that the lake has more salinity than fresh water but not as much as sea water because the fresh water that the lake gets from some river tributaries at one point mixes with the sea water of Bay of Bengal near an island. I visited this point where the lagoon unites with the ocean. Such places automatically change your state of consciousness, one feels so expanded and limitless, just like our indomitable Spirits. And please let me know how you feel after what I said about our Spirits feeling so free and limitless in places where there is so much open space, unlimited sky and limitless water……Try to get a feel of what I am saying after you see those photos . One must experience this sometimes to recognize oneself….
Chilika is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian subcontinent and is likewise a home for a number of threatened species of animals and birds. The endangered Irrawaddy dolphins are also found here and are protected species in this region. I have uploaded some pictures of them to share with you, but believe me taking their photos was a great challenge as an untrained eye cannot locate the dolphins because their colour, which is dark slate blends extremely well with the lake water and moreover they are too fast to emerge and dive back in the water at a hurried speed. To focus and shoot such fast moving objects was never so challenging for me. But I am glad I endured the harsh weather on that day and I have come home with such enriching experiences. Who would have thought that one day I would be so clever enough to shoot dolphins in their natural habitat?
There are four islands around this lake and the Rajhansa island is where you can find these dolphins after travelling about twenty or so kilometre in the sprawling lake by motor boats. Nevertheless, the effort and time spent on this exclusive trip was worth every moment and I would love to re-visit this lagoon in future if I get a chance but in December, to watch the spectacular wild life and migratory birds from all over the world.
On one of the islands is a dilapidated Shiva temple which I did see in the end though briefly because although we tried to make it fast, yet the whole sightseeing trip took me four hours excluding travel time from Puri. And for next time I shall remember that I must set out at six in the morning to see every little thing on this gold mine of nature’s mindboggling water body’s treasure….
Chilika Lake, a place of peace and tranquility
The starting point to get in the motor boat
Me on boat, a bit pensive. So much prana, creative energy, so much life energy all around me. Sensing that…..
Birds resting on bamboo sticks
My view on the right side
On left side
View in front
Looking for dolphins very intently…
First sight of dolphins at last!
Multitude of white birds nearby
Folks and their lives moving on boats…
Wasn’t getting to see any more dolphins in much time as they are reclusive and human onlookers are restless. We were leaving the protected area and I was wondering that I hardly saw anything. After that wave of disappointment, this bird proved to be a good omen for me
It’s presence gave me happiness and the moment it took its flight, it gave me a sense of joy and freedom. I gave up glumness and started taking pictures again…
Later it struck me like a lightning that this bird was a harbinger of serenity and joy because while I was taking its pictures quickly, I was turning my torso towards right side of the lake following it where a happy twosome dolphins were swimming ecstatically and our boatman changed the direction of our boat to let me see the grey dolphins a bit unmistakeably this time. Wow! Can you see the white lucky bird near the dancing dolphins as if sent by Providence to show me the spot where to look for them!
Don’t miss that white speck in the far background. It is the same white bird which brought hopefulness and happiness back in me. These are two dolphins swimming happily and one can see their fins and tail.
Our boatman finds his dinner!
On our way to the island where the lagoon meets the ocean
A hut of the fisherman I guess…
The meeting point of the sea and the lagoon, but before that an island
Resting in the shade for a while to rehydrate myself on the island near the gulf….
Fresh Seafood for sale
Returning to the shore
Secluded Shiva temple in a crumbling state on another island, our last stop…….
Coming up next…….Konark temple