Chilika Lake History, Map, System, Pollution and Importance

Chilika Lake lies towards India’s East Coast, in the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam of Orissa. While we call it a lake, it is a lagoon, and the largest coastal lagoon in India as well as the largest brackish water lagoon in the world. It spans an area of 1100 square kilometres and is home to several hundred species of birds and animals.

Chilika Lake Details

Name of the Lake Chilika Lake
Surface Area Approx 1100 sq km
Type of Lake Brackish or Brack Water Lake
Location Districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam, Odisha, India
Sources Various streams
Outflows Two outflows into Bay of Bengal-

  • Mouth at Arakhakuda
  • Mouth at Satapada

About Chilika Lake

Chilika Lake is in Orissa or Odisha and is the largest coastal lagoon in all of India and the largest brack water lagoon in the world. Brack water or brackish water refers to water bodies that are highly saline in nature, but not as much as ocean or seawater, and is usually the result of the mixing of seawater and freshwater. This is often seen in water bodies that originate from freshwater rivers and then open out into the sea, such as coastal lakes and lagoons like Chilika Lake.

This lake spans over a few hundred square kilometres, precisely 1100 square kilometres, and is an ecological temple. Over 160 species of birds come to Chilika lake during the migration season, and it is also the endemic home of several species of plants and animals that are now also under threat. Several endangered dolphins have been reported found at this lake, and various species of amphibians and reptiles, too, have been found.

Chilika Lake happens to be the first of various wetlands that are to be protected under the norms of the Ramsar Convention. According to this Convention, Chilika Lake as a wetland is deemed internationally important as of the year 1981. Aside from this, Chilika Lake is also tentatively a UNESCO World Heritage Site, further enhancing and emphasising upon the importance of this water body.

Have a look at the List of Important Lakes in India that you need to know for your competitive exams to score well.

Chilika Lake History

The history of the Chilika Lake has been extensively documented by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) through its three stages, as the ASI has divided it. It has been looked at from the point of view of Golabai Sasan, which is a village in the Khurda district of Odisha. It is situated on the banks of Malaguni River (a tributary of Daya River) and the prevalence of woodworking tools and shops here show that it was a boat-building centre, since the river connects the lake to other water bodies. It has even been deciphered that Golabai was a major maritime harbour and a port was located at Chilika Lake.

There is evidence to support this in a 10th century text known as the Brahmanda Purana, which mentions Chilika Lake in context with it being an important centre of trade and commerce. It has been vigilantly documented that several ships would park themselves at Chilika Lake, and many ships would make their way to Southeast Asia from here. To corroborate this, the “Bali Yatra” festival is still celebrated in the villages surrounding Chilika Lake – a festival commemorating a ‘journey to Bali’. These journeys to Southeast Asia commencing at Chilika Lake have also been documented by the Greek geographer Ptolemy.

While scientifically, it has been found through geological evidence, that Chilika Lake was a part of the Bay of Bengal, a 4th century legend tells us otherwise. It is quite worth it to hear what this legend is about, as it adds to the cultural significance of this lake.

This 4th century legend pertains to a pirate king called Raktabahu who had planned to attack Puri with his fleet, and to avoid his plans coming into the open, he took a detour into the mouth of the Bay of Bengal. What gave his intentions away was that the fleet didn’t dock, and this waried the villagers to gather their belongings and run away before they were attacked. At this, Raktabahu directed his anger to the sea, which opened up and swallowed his army, and thus, the legend says, led to the birth of the Chilika Lake.

Chilika Lake Map

Chilika Lake is located such that the Eastern Ghats hills are right by the western and southern parts of the lake. Towards the north is Rejhansa, a barrier beach between the lake and the Bay of Bengal. The northern shore of the lake lies in Khurda and the western shore lies in Ganjam district in Odisha. There is an outer channel of about 32 kilometres which connects Chilika Lake with the Bay of Bengal somewhere near Arakhuda village, at an opening called Magarmukha, but this is the old channel. A new one was artificially created by the local fishermen to gain regular access to the sea, at Satpada.

Here, it is important to note that the Chilika Lake is an ephemeral lake, meaning that its surge is constantly changing, especially seasonally. The depth of the lake varies between 0.3 metres to 4.2 metres. During the dry summer seasons, the depth falls to a minimum of 0.3 metres and maximum of 0.8 metres, while the rainy seasons sees heights like 1.8 metres to 4.2 metres.

There are several islands in and around Chilika Lake, which come together with the Peninsula of Malud to create what is termed the Krishnaprasad Revenue Block. The islands of Chilika Lake that hold the most significance are Parikud Island, Barahpura Island, Nalbana Island, Phulbari Island, Nuapada Island and Tampara Island. These channels are connected to the shores of the lake through narrow, shallow channels.

Chilika Lake System

The Chilika Lake is supplied its water by various sources from different directions. On the northern side, tributaries of the Mahanadi River provide a water supply to the lake. The Mahanadi River trifurcates at the city of Cuttack, and two out of three of its branches connect with the Chilika Lake. From the Mahanadi River is where Chilika Lake receives its highest amount of freshwater supply, which is 61 percent.

On the western side, there are approximately 52 river channels which feed Chilika Lake, from different sources including those from Tarimi River, Kusumi River, Janjira River and also Kansari River. Thirdly and lastly, the Bay of Bengal feeds the lake from the eastern side, which is where the saline part of the lake comes from. Thus, the Chilika Lake is brackish in nature, because of its different inflows.

Chilika Lake Pollution

Chilika Lake faces various threats to its ecosystem because of the pollutants brought in from the rivers that feed it. Since there are only smaller villages that surround Chilika Lake, the amount of industrial effluent and other similar pollutants is relatively less, and the pollutants which are there are majorly resultant of the rivers that bring them in.

The largest threat is, of course, plastic waste, because plastic waste exists everywhere, unlike factory waste. The amount of microplastics has severely increased over the last few years, which is mostly residual from the rivers and channels flowing into the lake.

To add to the pollutants that now exist in the lake, there is also a high level of turbidity in the water of Chilika Lake. Turbidity refers to when water bodies lose their translucency and become less and less see-through as they become more polluted.

Chilika Lake Importance

Chilika Lake is important in ecology because of the large number of species to which it is an endemic home. Fauna that flourishes in brackish water includes microalgae, marine seaweeds, sea grasses, fish, crab, etc. which are commonly found in Chilika Lake. Research finds that about 152 endangered dolphins have also been found swimming around the Chilika Lake, along with the 37 species of reptiles and amphibians to which it is home.

Chilika Lake is also an important place of bird migration, where species of birds all the way from places like Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Aral Sea, Russia, the Himalayas, and several other places fly here. This includes about a 160 different species of birds, out of which almost half are terrestrial birds. There are 225 species of fish including phytoplanktons, and also more than 350 species of non-aquatic plants in the Chilika Lake.

The lake is an important place for humans along with animals and plants, as it provides sustenance in the form of fishing grounds for several fishermen in the surrounding villages of the lake. Chilika Lake was the first wetland of international importance which came under the provisions of the Ramsar Convention of 1981, and is also a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Short Essay on Chilika Lake – 200 Words

Chilika Lake is the largest brackish lake in the world and the largest coastal lake in India, spanning a surface area of about 1100 square kilometres. The Chilika Lake was the first wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention of 1981, and is even a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is situated spanning three districts of Odisha, which are Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts. It flows out into the Bay of Bengal from two mouths; one is situated at Arakhakuda, a small village, and the other at Satapada, another village.

The proportions of the lake change seasonally, where it is about 0.3 metres in depth at minimum during the dry summers, and goes to about 4.2 metres during the rainy seasons.

The Chilika Lake is fed by the offshoots of the Mahanadi River on the north, several river channels on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east, which all contribute to the brackish nature of the water.

Because of its brackish nature, it is home to several flora and fauna including microalgae, sea grasses, seaweeds, birds, reptiles and amphibians. It is also an important resource for fishermen that live in the surrounding villages of the lake.

Chilika Lake

10 Lines about Chilika Lake

  1. Chilika Lake is situated in Odisha, India, spanning 3 districts namely Puri, Khurda and Ganjam.
  2. Chilika Lake was the first wetland covered under the Ramsar Convention of 1981 and holds international importance.
  3. At its maximum, Chilika Lake rises 4.2 metres in depth and 0.3 metres in depth at its minimum.
  4. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the largest brackish lagoon in the world.
  5. It attracts over 150 migratory birds every year from around the world.
  6. Chilika Lake has 37 species of reptiles and amphibians present, and also many species of flora which thrive in brackish waters.
  7. It is fed by tributaries of the Mahanadi River, several other river channels and also the Bay of Bengal.
  8. There are many islands in the lake connected to the mainland by narrow and shallow channels.
  9. The lake has 2 mouths opening to the Bay of Bengal, one is the older Arakhakuda mouth and the other is the newer Satapada mouth.
  10. Most of the pollution of Chilika Lake consists of pollutants brought from the rivers which feed it.

FAQs on Chilika Lake

Question 1.
What is the size of Chilika Lake?

The size of Chilika Lake depends upon the season it is at the time:

  • In dry seasons:
    • It is 0.3 metres to 0.8 metres in depth
    • The surface area reduces to around 900 sq kms
  • In rainy seasons:
    • It is 1.8 metres to 4.2 metres in depth
    • The surface area surges to about 1100 sq kms

Question 2.
Where is Chilika Lake located?

Chilika Lake is located in three districts of Odisha, India, which are Puri, Khurda and Ganjam. It opens at Arkhakuda village and also in Satapada village to the Bay of Bengal.

Question 3.
What kind of flora and fauna does Chilika Lake have?

Chilika Lake, since it has brackish water, has a lot of microalgae, seaweed, etc. and also has several species of birds. It i widely known for its endemic and endangered Irrawaddy dolphins, which attract many tourists. There are also many species of reptiles and amphibians that are found in Chilika Lake.

Question 4.
Does Chilika Lake come under the Ramsar Convention?

Yes, Chilika Lake was the first wetland that was declared to have international importance under the Ramsar Convention in the year 1981.

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