Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Exploring Odisha - Day Two: Chilika, Alarnath and Nandankanan

Chilika from Satapada entrace point
I like to wake up early in the morning, but what to do? whenever I decided to wake up early, sun would come a little bit earlier. Same thing happened in that day also. But it was different - I was going to see Chilika Lake, one of the biggest in the world. Statistics says that more than 9 Lakh birds come here in the migratory season!!! Just imagine, this designated Ramsar wetland sustains more than 1.5 Lakh fisher folk and hosts more than 160 species of birds.

After waking up, I just opened the back door of our OTDC room. For a long distance I could see the light blue colour of Chilika Lake and some of the fishing boundaries here and there. Birds from Siberia, Central Asia travel thousands of Kilometer every year to spend some days in Chilika, some even fly more than 12,000 kms to reach here. I just wondered about the first bird which came from those distances and saw the vast Chilika and went back. How he/she persuaded others to come here? Even though it was for escaping the severe central Asian and Russian winter the migration of birds over these much kilometers is really an interesting thing too see. It may also be a declaration - 'hei Human do whatever you want to do with your borders, we simply don't care'.

Unfortunately, I visited Chilika in the off-season, so no birds. After breakfast we slowly moved to Chilika Boat Jetty. From here we boarded one boat to see the endangered Irravady Dolphis at the Dolphin point. This Boat with its old Yamaha engine painted in blue colour slowly started her journey through this majestic water body, as it was moving forward waters of Chilika started hitting her sides patched with a combination of plastic, iron and wood. Its like a call to us, to reveal her secrets. We moved towards the dolphin point.
A view from the boat

With a catchment area of 3560km2 and a maximum surface area of 740km2 Chilika spreads over three districts (Puri, Khurda and Ganjam) of Orissa. Slowly we reached the dolphin point and waited for one to come up, I slowly looked towards the sky, beautiful clouds - looked like a group of sheeps walking in sphere formation - just smiled towards me. It looked like saying to me that - Hei man, are you ready to come with us? we will show you the beauty of nature? Suddenly a small head started moving around some 250 meters away from our boat - yes it was a dolphin or at least according to the driver it was a dolphin. After some time we saw this endangered species again - this time much closer. After spending some more time in the lake I said my parting words - leaving now, but only to come again. Afterall without, seeing the Chilika lake in the migratory season how can I say good bye?

From Satapada we went to Alarnath temple. From Satapada for a long distance you can see the lake on one side of the road. Unfortunately I fell in to sleep and woke up only after reaching Alarnath temple at Brahmagiri.

According to legend this is the place where people use to come in huge numbers when there is no public darshan in Puri temple as the deities fall sick after Snana Yatra and it is believed that Lord Jagannath manifests into Alarnath Dev during that period (this belief was first propounded by Sri Chaitanya when he visited this temple).It has a beautiful black granite statue with burn marks on hand as it is believed that the deity dipped his hand inside the bowl of very hot kheer and there is a small Mahalakshmi temple nearby with equally diligent statue of MahaLakshmi.

After Brahmagiri our next destination was NandanKanan National Park. We reached there just after the noon, and the hot weather almost made me drink whatever coming to my hand. We visited only the Zoological Park of the garden. This 400 hectre park also contains a 54 hactre Kanjia (After reading the lake name in the board I stopped and start thinking - somewhere I heared a similar word. Got it? yes, the Pangaea of Alfred Wegener) lake.

I don't like the procedure of caging animals and birds. Do we have the right to take (the correct word is rob) some thing from others which we ourselves are not ready to give up? Our courts are convicting criminals for years in prison, but it is for some verified crime. What are the crimes committed by these animals and birds - living at an age where the human beings themselves are considered as living in an advanced age? I saw the bears, tigers and other animals forced to live in the limited space allocated to them.

It is the sounds of the free birds flying over my head from here and there which gave me some moment of joy. I saw the animals the rare one and the abundant ones - people are calling them some names - but what i saw more was the helplessness in their eyes, sadness was overshadowing their face, their four feets are forced to explore only around 100-200 times of their size. Just imagine the case of Cheetah which can cover long distances in a single jump.

Views from Nandan Kanan
We reached Kanjia - a silent lake, may be the cries for freedom from her shores made her life sad and silent. Some people were pedelling their boats others  were simply enjoying the company of their loved ones. And in the cages the animals were crying for some company, at least someone to speak. We slowly moved through the paved roads on the shores, in search of the sounds coming from that end.And finally we reached there, a lot of birds but here also their movements are restricted. Suddenly it rained as if the combined tears of animals and birds are coming out from the afternoon sky. But it was a refreshment, after the hot whether, fast dehydration, humidity it was really a blessing from the forest. It removed all the tiredness and pain in the leg, and yes I was ready to run again!!!

We slowly moved towards the place where Safari buses were parked. As I was the first one to enter, got the first seat - next to the driver in the other end. Guards opened the gates for the first Safari, as our bus moved in, they closed another gate from behind. We moved through the mud road and saw a white tiger sleeping at a little distance, after that we didn't see any other animal - probably other than a peacock, till we cam back to the iron door. With frustration, the person sitting back to me used non-parliamentary language.

I didn't understand, yes really I didn't understand, what was the need for him to use such type of words in the first place? If you were not able to see any animals, during your safari, it's your bad luck. These animals don't take the pledge to appear in front of you whenever you come to a forest area. After coming out from that area we went to another forest area designated for lion safari. Again the big iron door closed in our backside - This iron door remembered me Spielberg's Jurassic Park series.

A view during Safari
Within no time, a lion was in front of our vehicle. King of the forest, as typical to the characteristics of the king, didn't show any anxiety. It simply turned his head and looked towards the mammoth white box slowly approaching towards him by spitting black smokes. But we forced this half sleepy animal to move towards the side. After hearing the polluting sound from the vehicle he slowly started moving to one side, but only after correcting his beared. Later there was a group of lions on one side of the road but as the safari time was limited, we slowly moved towards the gate and reached the dropping point.After looking the artificial fountains close to the ticket counter we slowly came out of the park.

After the rains, afternoon sky took a new avatar, all the gloominess was removed from the atmosphere. And we hitted Bubaneshwar roads. After crossing Mahanadi we reached High Court complex IN Cuttack, forget to say Milon's father is a lawyer and he took all the pains to explain me the importance of the places we were visiting - no matter whether it is Chilika, Nandan Kanan, Orissa HighCourt, Barabati fort complex or stadium.

Suddenly rain came, even though it started with light showers didn't took much time to attain critical mass. This unraveled a naked truth in front of our eyes. Cuttack roads are good, but not good enough to have a proper drainage system, forget about 'proper' there is no place for the water to go. Its fast accumulated in the road - with in minutes our vehicle's tyre was suffocating under the water. People started shutting down their stores, but as each vehicle passes through these narrow streets water found her way to the shops.

As the darkness was slowly tearing apart the remaining lights from the screen, we call it as a day and went back to Home.



  1. Chilika and Nandankanan is the most popular tourist place in orissa,india in winter season.your blog really useful for chilika visitors those come first time come his chilka tour.