One of the top Birding destinations in Odisha, discovering the elusive Mangalajodi wetlands. Among Photography genres, there is a niche segment which is related to Birding photography. Get the right set of gears and the joy which one experiences trying to explore the world of our feathered friends is unparalleled.
I have realised that I have an affinity for watching birds in their natural habitat, there is a pure joy which comes in this activity. From this perspective, I decided to visit Chilika Lake.
Chilika Lake, a large brackish water lagoon on the east coast of India covers around 1100 sq km. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and second largest brackish water lagoon in the world. It is also listed on the UNESCO world heritage site and is home to several threatened species of plants and animals.
For some remarkable UNESCO heritage sites in India , do read about the Great Living Chola Temples here . I also had a memorable visit to yet another UNESCO heritage site which is in Mahabalipuram and one can read about the same by clicking this link
However, as I was exploring Chilika on the internet, I stumbled onto something interesting. A name Mangalajodi kept propping up in the various searches. It emerged that this region known as Mangalajodi is rapidly emerging to be the top birding destination in Odisha and one of the finest in the country.
Tucked in the north-eastern fringes of Chilika Lake, Mangalajodi is like a best-kept secret amongst the serious birders of India. It is one of the most exquisite natural landscapes and is a small hamlet which is the winter home to the migratory birds who flock to India on the eastern coast.
Mangalajodi – The emerging birding destination in Odisha
Cruising in the winter dusk as well as watching the winter sunrise in a canoe which glides slowly through the marshes and reeds of the wetlands is a surreal feeling. The winter nip in the air and the feel of freshness caressing the skin is a fantastic experience as the sun slowly rises on the East.
The sunsets are a gorgeous colour palette as the day draws to a close, and the swarms of birds return to their homes. This spectacle leaves a visitor speechless to the world that he has been brought into.
Nature’s harmony is like sweet music to the ears as the boatman rips the oar through the calm water gliding onwards through the floating water lilies. It is indeed a therapeutic experience to be out here in the winter months. The play of the sun and the water casts an ethereal spell on the ambience genuinely making for a “time stand still moment “.
Mangalajodi layout and schedule of birding
Mangalajodi has emerged as one of the top birding destinations as previously stated and this is on account of its geographical location as well as climatic conditions.
The wetlands consist of a primary channel and a parallel channel which ends in a watchtower around 2 km . There are still wetlands outside the conservation area, but the boatmen do not encourage visitors to visit those. The wetlands out here are inhabited by nearly 150 species of migratory birds and about 40 resident species. This area is far more vibrant when it comes to birding experience when compared to Chilika Lake.
One has to reach the boat jetty early in the morning around 6 AM to take advantage of the soft light as well the ambient temperature as the birds begin their day as the sun rises. Numerous guides will take offer their services. However, I would recommend contacting them through the property where one is staying.
The birding experience is again provided in the evening around 3 PM till sunset, which still gives ample time to make a leisurely circuit towards regions not covered in the morning.
Historical perspective of Mangalajodi
Till a decade back, the local villagers used to engage in hunting these birds and then selling the meat to the local food industry. This, coupled with fishing, ensured their livelihood but in exchange was destroying this fragile ecosystem. It took a visionary named Nandakishore Bhujabal who painstakingly turned the mindset of the villagers around and with help from the Odisha Forest Department, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Indian Grameen Services; development schemes have been initiated to provide an alternative means of livelihood.
The result is that the most vicious poachers are now the most dedicated naturalists and protectors. They act as guides for those visiting this place using their intimate knowledge of the wetlands. Thus their livelihood as a guide continues along with ensuring the safety and security of this ecosystem.
This turnabout of the local community has resulted in Mangalajodi emerging as the top birding destinations in Odisha.
What the future holds ??
Birders say that Mangalajodi is far ahead of other wetlands in the country when it comes to richness of the habitat and the number of birds. If developed correctly, this region could emerge as the top birding destination in the country.
This would ensure that the birders and wildlife enthusiasts have access to some great experience among the birds and the local community gets an avenue of increased opportunity for livelihood and income thereby raising the standard of living out here.
Visuals from Mangalajodi , the birding destination in Odisha….
In case you are interested in further visuals ranging from architecture to travel destinations, flora and fauna of India ,do click on the below mentioned link
|When to Visit||Dec-Feb , however best time is End Jan – Mid feb|
|Where to Stay||Eco tourism huts @Mangalajodi (8895288955 )|
Mangalajodi Nature Camp (https://www.ecotourodisha.com/ )
|How to Reach||By road : Digress from NH 16 towards Tangi and then further to Mangalajodi |
By rail : Get down at Balugaon station and catch an auto/contact the resort to send you an auto
Nearest City is Bhubuneshwar and Puri
|Expense||The stay get expensive during the peak birding season , approx 6k-8k per day per person including meals|