Mangalajodi Bird Sanctuary, among the best birding destinations in India

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This post we will speak about Mangalajodi Bird Sanctuary which is one of the best birding destinations in India. We would be exploring 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 best birding destination in India .

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About Mangalajodi Bird Sanctuary

Tucked in the north-eastern fringes of Chilika Lake, Mangalajodi bird sanctuary 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 ecotourism initiative has been one of the success stories of this region.

Mangalajodi Bird Sanctuary – The emerging birding destination in India

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 “ among the wetlands of Mangalajodi bird sanctuary.

Mangalajodi Bird Sanctuary layout and schedule of birding

Mangalajodi has emerged as one of the best birding destinations in India as previously stated. 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. I stayed at Managalajodi ecotourism huts as a part of the local initiative to establish a workable relationship between humans and nature.

The birding experience is again provided in the evening around 3 PM till sunset. This 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. Assistance 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 one of the best birding destinations in India. It is also a success story for Mangalajodi ecotourism initiative.

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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 best birding destination in the country.

This would ensure that the birders and wildlife enthusiasts have access to some great experience among the birds. The local community gets an avenue of increased opportunity for livelihood and income. Thereby raising the standard of living out of this region.

Visuals from Mangalajodi bird sanctuary

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

https://www.traveldreamsbysumit.com/

FAQ

When to Visit Dec-Feb , however best time is End Jan – Mid feb
Where to StayEco tourism huts @Mangalajodi (8895288955 )
Mangalajodi Nature Camp (https://www.ecotourodisha.com/ )
How to ReachBy 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
ExpenseThe stay get expensive during the peak birding season , approx 6k-8k per day per person including meals

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20 Replies to “Mangalajodi Bird Sanctuary, among the best birding destinations in India”

  1. Such a detailed and narrative post I have ever read about bird watching spot. These pictures are incredible . I am also planning a proper Odisha trip.

  2. Amazing photos! I love the variety of species. Great tips for visiting the location. I was surprised to see the expenses for the destination, but it does look like a great spot if you love bird watching. I’m sure watching the sunet at this destination would be quite the experience.

    1. truly , this is one of the underated destinations when it comes to the genre of birdwatching. Besides from here one can reach out to visit Odisha and West Bengal , both of which are a treasure trove of culture and tradition.In case you interested , have a look at this post on the idol makers of Kolkata who use the clay of the river Ganges even to this day – https://traveldreams.live/saraswati-pujo-the-link-between-goddess-her-creator/experiences-travel-n-beyond/2020/

  3. Some amazing photography. Since being in lock down I’ve paid a lot more attention to the birds in our garden, and they’re flighty and difficult to photograph, so being able to capture these stunning shots is quite a feat. I think it would be a memorable experience to sit in one of those boats, as the sunsets around me, something you could do more than once, and get a different experience each time.

  4. Such an interesting read and the photos of the birds were great, especially the ones in flight. I think the sunset boat trip must be quite magical surrounded by so much nature.

    1. the boat trip is like a so underrated affair wherein you are among the local fishermen caching the fish for the day. glad you liked it .

  5. Wonderful pictures and of some of the birds I must confess that I have seen for the first time. Glad to hear that these beautiful birds are no longer poached on and villagers now actually work as guides finding an alternate means for livelihood. We do need more of these visionaries to turn things around.Although I have visited Chilika before but never knew about Mangaljodi. Reason to visit again as I just loved what I saw here.

  6. I would like to express my thoughts of how fantastically gorgeous your photography. You made them looks so much alive.
    Your description about this place is very soothing, and I feel that I will also enjoy this place, aside from the fact that I have a lot of patience in birdwatching.

    1. hi , thanks that you foud the post and visuals appealing. Means a lot to me . I am sure you would love this place and i am definitely going to go there again because there is something deeply soothing in a slow ride in a canoe among the wetlands

  7. As you mentioned, Chilika is more popular place and I was considering visiting the place when I visited Odisha. But then, I decided against it, coz I was sure I needed more time to experience the natural beauty of Chilika lake. Now, I’m all the more happy to read about Mangalajodi, coz now I can plan a trip to Chilika and Mangalajodi together.
    Love your birding pictures. Esp., the picture of the cormorant(?) almost landing near the flower is perfectly frozen in a right time! The picture of the sunset against the fishermen complete with the reflections is just an awesome shot.

    1. hi , glad you could find the visuals appealing . True i just loved this place , may i recommend the bet time to visit this place would be around early feb

  8. Nature is always so relevant and joy-giving. The pictures are lovely and they added so much warmth to the post. I have heard about Mangalajodi wetlands but have not visited them yet. My sis in law was posted in Chilika during one of her Naval postings and would often mention about the beautiful birds that came around. This post brings it all alive.

  9. These pictures are beautiful! What’s your camera? I tried bird photography once and I failed. It’s really hard to capture images like this especially if you don’t have the super zoom lens. It’s also very good to know there’s still areas like this in India. First look, I thought this was in Africa!

  10. Wow such a great bird sanctuary spot I have never seen this kind of Sanctuary in my life. All the birds looks amazing with beautiful colors. The pictures looks too gorgeous loved it very much. Thank for sharing!

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