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Chilikawas a part of the Bay of Bengal: A new study

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    27th Mar, 2021


The Chilika Lake in Odisha which is Asia’s largest brackish water lake was a part of the Bay of Bengal, as per a recent study.

About the Study

  • The study was conducted by the marine archaeology department of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa.
  • The process of the formation of the Chilika might have started in the late Pleistocene epoch, around 20,000 years ago. Some other studies suggest the formation was started due to plate tectonic movements.
  • India’s peninsular river Mahanadi carried a huge amount of silt and dumped part of it at its delta. As result sand bars were formed near its mouth.
    • This caused a backflow of seawater in the fresh water at the estuary, which resulted in a huge brackish water lake.

Historical evidence

  • Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemy (150 CE) said that Paul was an important port of Kalinga and referred to it as ‘Paloura’.
    • This port was situated near the ‘point of departure’ which is located outside the southern tip of the lake at Kantiagarh.
  • Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (7th century CE) also mentioned ‘Che-li-ta-lo-Ching’ as a flourishing port.
    • This port is expected to be located at Chhatargarh on the banks of the Chilika.
  • The BrahmandaPurana(10th century CE approximately) also says that the Chilika was an important centre of trade and commerce, from which ships sailed to Java, Malaya and Ceylon.

About Chillika Lake

  • Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon which spread across the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha.
  • It is situated at the mouth of the Daya River which flowns in the Bay of Bengal.
  • It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and also the largest brackish water lagoon of the world.
  • It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Fauna
  • The Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaellabrevirostris) is the flagship species of Chilikalake. It is the only place where Irrawaddy dolphin is found in India.
  • It is also the largest wintering ground of migratory birds. It is one of the biodiversity hotspots in the country.
    • White-bellied sea eagles,  purple moorhen, flamingos, egrets, grey and purple herons, Indian roller, storks, white ibis, spoonbills, shovellers, brahminy duck spintails migrates here.