Timeless boulevard towards Chilika, Odisha | Milaap

Timeless boulevard towards Chilika, Odisha

Touring Odisha is a piecemeal without visiting the mighty Chilika Lake. There is hardly a traveler who steps on this land of greenery and does not plunk the majestic water body in the check-list. And why not? Chilika Lake is Asia’s biggest internal salt water pond engulfing tiny scattered islands and is the home to a wide array of flora and fauna. The sunrise and sunset leaves everyone in awe. The research and blog hunting boosted my enthusiasm to visit the Chilika Lake one fine weekend my friend and I set-off to experience the bonding with tranquil biodiversity, fisheries, and salt pans. Also, the best time to visit this lake is between October and March when it is a party-time for at the least 60 variety of migratory bird species.

The journey commenced from Puri, another sought-after location in Odisha primarily for its beach crammed full of heads and the Jagannath Temple. Avoiding the team of religious heads and pop-culture troops, we spent the night before at Beleswar beach and headed off to Chilika early, the next morning. After asking the locals informed us that bus services will not directly go to Chilika but drop us off at Satapada from where Auto-rickshaws can be hired to Chilika. That was the initial cost-saving plan. One never has to bother about coinage when it comes to fine- dining in Odisha. The local cuisines will both contain the palate and the wallet. The best information given about a terrain is by the locals, they know their home in and out. So, while having breakfast at a tiny hotel I reassured if the journey via bus will be a good idea. The Bhaiya advised us to take an auto directly from where we were stationed to avoid the hassle and enjoy the beauty of the road. That is where he got me. The journey is as important as the destination not in terms of comfort but in terms of picking up every minute trace of beauty on the way.  I would really miss a basket chock full of shrubbery if I had not taken the road route.
Fellow worker and myself in Gautam's "mini bus".
A good bargain rested on INR 800 which involved two-way tour and the waiting hours for the driver. Now the auto was not an ordinary one, it was a mini-bus. I have seen about 12 people riding on the same vehicle so if one has a huge tweaking group, this without a doubt the best option to go to Chilika.  Within the first 10 mins Gautam, our Sarathi, gave us a verbal tour of Chilika. His excitement was doubled for he was a native of the area so he took us by the lanes and mud tracks instead of the main road. The route to Chilika is a boulevard if described in one word. The edges of the narrow roads are guarded by huge trees which are all under the forest department as they were marked in white. Beyond the gigantic trees, there lies acres and acres of agricultural lands and the season painted them lustrous green with droplets of water studded erratically. For a commoner this is an everyday sight, I noticed the farmers struggling in the fields, the fishermen throwing their nets, and they had no excitement but exhaustion. We made Gautam stop at every point just to stare at the raw beauty: How wildflowers randomly grow on the sides, how tiny water bodies make way for lotuses to bloom, how a mother duck and her saplings sway away on the brim of cool ponds.
Trees under the forest Department

Huge fields past the age-old trees

The wild blossom!
Out of nowhere, my nostrils were tingling with a very familiar smell. To my surprise, I saw few women laying out something silver on the ground. Dry fish! Hundreds of dry fishes. When you are away from your homeland cuisines for a long time a sight as such is both hearts wrenching and delightful. The women in Satapada are basically fisher-women, all maintaining both their households and their jobs. They are the ones who have carried forward this tradition of drying fishes on the tin roofs after marinating them with salt and then dispersing them off to the nearby market areas.  I almost jumped down from the running auto to just get a breath full of that fragrance. Another interesting fact dispersed by Gautam was that all the houses in the area are constructed from these huge bricks which are scarped from the hilltops and directly used. No factory mechanism is involved in the process so the air is spared of pollution. De-touring from the main road we took a muck lane and were crossing through the Raipur village. Tiny temples, mud houses, cattle in the shed, cubical shops all that you can fancy about a typical village. Then comes a man with this copper plate and a wood and starts banging them to make a loud sound. This, as Gautam described, was the call for the evening assembly. Every evening the villagers gather around to sit for a meeting where they discuss their problems and issues and then the most urgent ones are taken to the Panchayat meeting so that they can be resolved at the earliest. If our city dwellers could carve out time for community well-being half of the humdrum plights would vanish. A little ahead in Mirzapur village Gautam pulled the break. He pointed to a cluster of Cashew nut trees we were brushing through. I got to see only the buds but in coming two months the Cashews, as we know them, would pop out. These trees in Mirzapur provide for a moderate cashew-selling business. The villagers consider them to be a bonus showered by nature
.The fragrance!! (Dry fish)

The bricks straight from the mountains
About an hour and a half passed and then we came across this huge water body partnering with the nearby paddy field. This was nothing less than Chilika. There were island- like structures amidst the body and small thatched houses here and there. The look of it made it evident that in the serene evenings this is where you get to see a flock of birds, nesting, and chirping, a treat to a bird-lover.  If time would not be a factor I would stay back right, there because by now I was not excited about Chilika any longer. My eyes saw much beyond that. Sure these lakes weren’t as big as Chilika, not famous either, but that is exactly where the grandeur lies. They don’t need any maintenance because humans from affluent classes do not stop by to set their imprints, they do not suffocate the quietness with loud music. The locals say Gautam, have always been at peace with nature. They do not chop the trees off, the water bodies and land give them food and living so they not only have love but honor for them.
A drive beside nature
I embarked this short trip to visit a well-known tourist area and I ended up falling in absolute love with the unascertained winsomeness just casually disposed of for eyes to gander by.
Is it any less than a branded lake?