Friday, January 29, 2016

Boating on Chilika Lake from Barkul

Boating on Chilika Lake from Barkul
Chilika (also pronounced as 'Chilka') is Asia's largest and world's second largest lagoon, lying on the east coast of India in the state of Odisha, separated from the mighty Bay of Bengal by a small strip of sand. Barkul was the penultimate stopover for my overnight halt on the return ride from Daringbadi. In an earlier photo post I had told you why I consider Barkul as the perfect gateway to Chilika Lake. Chilika is not only a mammoth salt-water lake popular for boating but also a prominent hub for biodiversity, nourishing myriad avian and aquatic species. It was my fourth visit to Chilika Lake but the first from Barkul side. Finding an accommodation at Barkul is pretty easy. You'll find budget rooms within 500 meters from the lake. But mind it, if you want a lake-view room then OTDC Panthanivas is your best bet and prior reservation is much recommended. A post-lunch winter afternoon is ought to be perfect for boating on a scenic lake. So, after dumping my saddlebags and taking a quick shower in the hotel room I was out in no time to explore the turquoise water under the mellowed sun.
Boating on Chilika Lake from Barkul
At Barkul the jetty is quite long and located inside the premises of OTDC Panthanivas. Don't be disheartened by the thick crowd in the jetty area. Majority of them are local inhabitants lazing around with least intention to compete with you for a boat. Few dozens of bluish wooden motorized boats resting in a row along the colorful floating synthetic platform of OTDC water sports complex is visual treat for any lens, be it your eyes or your camera's. The usual tourist destination from Barkul Panthanivas ferry is Kalijai Island. To and fro journey on a simple motor driven boat costs around 800 bucks and it can haul up to 20 heads. Speedboats are also available which obviously accommodates no more than 5-6 passengers. I was alone. Before parting with the whole fare amount from a single wallet I reconsidered waiting for a while and it turned out to be a smart move.
Boating on Chilika Lake from Barkul
Within 5 minutes I saw a large group of young men approaching the boating counter and it was almost a Voila moment for me. In the beginning their leader was bit reluctant to include me in their herd but a little more monetary contribution eased up the situation. Well, I didn't anticipate the poverty of etiquette in my co-passengers until they started screaming at every boat we passed by and ended up videographing a group of girls bathing near the Kalijai Temple! I would rather choose to skip that abhorrent moment and keep this photo post focused on my otherwise pleasant experience of boating on Chilika.
Boating on Chilika Lake from Barkul
Kalijai Island is roughly 5.5 kilometers from the Barkul OTDC jetty and the one-way boat ride takes 40-45 minutes. Apart from the guaranteed soothing breeze, cool sun and the greenish blue lake water, the inviting vista comprising distant hillocks veiled in fog, islands embroidered with greenery and large group of migratory birds is there to tease with the pleasure center of every traveler's brain. You'll soon get oblivious of the monotonic note of your boat motor and love being on it. You'll long for the boat ride to last. After all, it's the journey, not the destination that matters. I tasted the water to check whether it was really brackish. Yes it was salty! As you spot the island, flamingos shall escort your boat in turns till you touch the rock.
Boating on Chilika Lake from Barkul
Kalijai Island is more of a pilgrimage site than tourist spot. Goddess Kalijai is the presiding deity of the Kalijai Temple. There are legends associated with this temple but they are far from being interesting or relevant. Besides worshiping the deity, tourists visit the rocky island for picnic. Religious rituals are bound to nurture man-made nuisances and spoil the overall ambiance of a place. Kalijai Island is a victim of such practices. The tiny island is dirty (abundance of plastic waste), noisy and packed with crows who're ever eager to poop on your head. There are boats from Kalijai to take you for a quick ride to nearby island villages over Chilika. I wish I had time for the same...
Boating on Chilika Lake from Barkul
After one hour or so, our boat left the island. We were left mesmerized by the eloquent hues of the setting sun. It's no less than a poet's work to describe how beautifully the blue lake water metamorphosed to liquid gold and kept shimmering till the sun lingered onto the wide horizon, then to finally shed its royal charm and wear the murky cloak of fast encroaching nightfall! We returned back to the Barkul jetty but my thirst to explore Chilika still remained, perhaps with revitalized intensity. Next morning I couldn't risk investing time on the breathtaking sunrise over Chilika as a motorcycle ride of 620 kilometers was on the card. I left Barkul as the sun stretched its voluptuous wings and kept fantasizing about a picture-perfect sunrise throughout that day. Some things you should really not leave unfinished!
Boating on Chilika Lake from Barkul

7 comments:

  1. The first shot is mindblowing...
    CCheers, Archana - www.drishti.co

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  2. Beautiful clicks. In the last but picture, is the editing a bit heavy with the sun? I'm not a pro, you know, just asking... :-)

    By the way, I have had come across such lousy 'tourists'. What an audacity! Clicking pictures of ladies taking a bath!

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    Replies
    1. You got me here. Without explicit editing the picture wasn't worth uploading. Though it's looking a bit plastic, it has got some tones.
      It was bitter indeed to be in such a group :-/

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