Lake Chilika

Story & Trivia

In mythical times, king Raktabahu came to ransack the rich temple city of Puri in Orissa. Being a successful pirate he had a huge fleet of pirate ships. As he wanted to attack the city stealthily, he anchored the ships in deeper waters, where he could lie low undetected. But the sea gave him away for the waves carried in the refuse from the ships!

ShipwreckAs soon the people got wind of his visit, they gathered all their precious articles and fled. When Raktabahu entered the city, he found it completely deserted. Furious with the sea, he ordered his people to attack it. To save itself the sea went into the sea bed. Then gathering its mighty strength, the sea surged back and drowned Rakabahu’s entire fleet and formed the Lake Chilika.

The Kalijai is an important deity for local villagers around Chilika. There is an important temple on an island in central Chilika. Kalijai is a godmother protecting all those who live around and use the lake.

It is said that a young girl named Kalijai was married off to a man from a distant island Parikut. This was against her wishes. As she travelled to her new home, a storm started and Kalijai was swept away into the stormy seas, lost to her family forever. It was said that the storm began at two similar looking mountains locally called “mammu-bhanaja” (uncle-nephew) mountain. Kalijai’s restless spirit hovered over the village. The villagers built a temple and installed an idol in her memory. The island was renamed Kalijai and ever since people have prayed here for the safety of those who travel to the Sea.

Bali Jatra

Many thousands of years ago there used to be an important port in this area (supposedly at Manikapatna) from where many commercial ships with Oriya mariners set sail to Indonesia, Cambodia and other port cities in those areas. Perhaps after the inundation of the sea and formation of the lake when the sea water could not recede, the port fell into disuse. But today in memory of what was, the locals celebrate a festival “Bali Jatra” or Journey to Bali in many places in Orissa. Around the Mahandai River, little children float small boats with a lamp placed in the centre.


1.    The lake stretches over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts on the east coast of India.
2.    It flows into the Bay of Bengal .
3.    Lake Chilika is considered a lagoon and is the second largest in the world.
4.    It is the home to a wide variety of endangered plants and animals.
5.    Chilika Lake has been declared a sanctuary because, every year, over  150 species of birds migrate there for the winter season.
6.    Boating and fishing are popular activities for visitors or nearby residents as well as other water sports.
7.    It is a thriving ground for fishermen due to its abundance of marine life.
8.    Evidence show it to previously be a part of the Bay of Bengal before Earth movements made it stand alone. However, it is merely an isthmus away from the Bay of Bengal.
9.    The city of Puri has a beach on the Chilika Lake which is a large tourist attraction known for its incredible sunset views.
10.    Threats to the lake include fights over water usage between fishermen and communities, a decrease in fishery resources,  a decrease in the surface area of the water, and siltation.

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