After a rejuvenating, well spent day at Raghurajpur, we headed towards Satapada (“Sata”meaning seven and “Pada” meaning villages), a 50 km drive from Puri. As it was late in the afternoon, we had to satisfy our hunger prangs. After a drive of 5 km from Raghurajpur, we were lucky to serve ourselves with an economical yet flavor rich fish curry meal at a road-side dhaba. Soon, we resumed our journey through Nuagoan and Brahmagiri towards Satapada. The sight of the spectacular sunset on Puri–Satapada highway made us pause for a second and capture the beauty in our camera frames.
Without much delay, we proceeded to our journey and reached Satapada by 7 pm. The view of the place made us re-check the time as it was dark enough with few lights by the road. We then headed towards “Yatrinivas” to secure a room for ourselves before the place ran totally out of lights. “Yatrinivas” is a Government of Odisha run place for tourists to stay. The first sight of “Yatrinivas” was not appealing and the delayed response of the staff added more to our unwillingness. To mention, the charges were also pretty high (rupees 1700 for a 2 persons stay).
We decided to explore more options for stay and came across a newly constructed place. We took a halt to have a look and enquire about the availability. However, we were misled by locals that it was not for residing purposes but for offices. With hope lost, we encroached further into the village and came back to the new abode only after re-assurance by owner of a food stall nearby. We were lucky enough to grab a room there at a very reasonable cost and soon headed to have our dinner. We went back to the food stall, to satisfy our satiety with delicious Cashew curry, Prawn fried rice and Chicken fry. We had amazing demonstrations of the different varieties of crab available in the Chillika lake and dishes prepared from them. It was worth remembering, an experience!!! As we were informed that the dishes would take a while for being prepared, we made use of the time and explored the dock-yard. After a finger licking meal, we moved back to our hotel to get some sound sleep and refresh ourselves for the boat ride the following day. The staff members of the hotel were very co-operative and assured us of the availability of boat by 7am the next day.
We got up early, the next morning and were accompanied by the hotel personnel to the dockyard. We had a cup of tea, few vadas (described in my earlier blog on “Raghurajpur”) and a slice of tempting Chhenapoda and moved towards the dockyard. To describe, Chhenapoda is a signature sweet dish of Odiya cuisines which literally means Roasted Cheese. It is made of well-kneaded homemade fresh cheese ‘chhena’ and sugar (with few preferring cashew nuts and raisins), and is baked for several hours until it browns. A visit to Odisha surely demands an experience of this delicious sweet dish.
We finally went aboard a ship with the boatman assuring us the sight of Irrawaddy Dolphins, migratory birds and Kalijai temple. The other explorable option was visit the sea-mouth and Nalaban which we did not resort to. The boat-ride as we felt was very pricey, charging 1400 rupees for booking one. The other options were getting set into Government boating service which charges a minimal amount of 250 per one person. We did not opt for it as the timing of government boating service was scheduled at around 10-10:30 am. We feared that it would be too late to explore Dolphins and migratory birds at that time and the very purpose of our visit would remain unmet.
The private boat service, we booked for was scheduled for 3 hours and we started at 8 am. After a ride of an hour, we finally could find the sight of an Irrawaddy dolphin which was quite hesitant to reveal itself in toto. With great difficulty, we could spot two to three Irrawaddy dolphins. We could spot few migratory birds like northern shoveller male and female, northern pintail, cormorants, a brahminy kite and plenty of egrets. The sound of our motor boat could not be resisted by the flock of birds as we had noticed. This made us watch from a pretty far distance and was a tough task for our cameras to do their job. We then moved towards Kalijai temple amidst the shore of the lake. After an exciting walk of 100 metres in the lake, we entered into Kalijai temple to worship the goddess. We then headed back to our boat and could get the sight of few other migratory birds on our way back to the dockyard. To mention, for people who love to watch and capture the beauty of the migratory birds in Chillika lake of Odisha, Mangalajodi, a 70 km drive from Bhubaneswar is a worthy place to visit. After reaching back to the dockyard, we entered into the Chillika museum and observed various specimens of fish, Dolphins well preserved there. Luckily, we were on time (at 12 pm) to watch a 20 minute documentary on Chilika lake, Satapada shown at the museum. After the documentary, we entered the Ecopark, located beside the museum. We were astonished to find a 12 m-long whale skeleton at the Ecopark and did not miss capturing it in our cameras.
We finally decided to have our lunch at another food stall, 200 metres away from the dockyard. It was a mouth-watering lunch with tiger prawns, as they are called, grabbed from the very Chillika Lake and freshly cooked fish. With a sense of satisfaction, we finally, headed towards our hotel. After taking a break of an hour, to let the journey of the day and the delicious lunch sync into ourselves, we decided to make a move. It was 3:00 pm in the afternoon and we started our journey back to Bhubaneswar. We could not resist ourselves from taking few pictures of the beautiful migratory birds as we were reaching the outskirts of Satapada village. Drive of 2 hours and 15 minutes through the Puri highway brought us to our Bhubaneswar.
THINGS TO NOTE–
Satapada- Distance from Puri-40 km, road conditions are very good at the time of writing this blog.
Tourists usually prefer to stay at Puri and make a day trip.
Irrawaddy dolphins and migratory birds are best spotted early in the morning. The sound of the motor boat usually drives them away.
Staying at Satapada- Odisha Tourism Yatri Nivas was the only option previously. A new hotel is constructed on the way to the dock- Payal Resort. The staff are very co-operative.
Sightseeing from Satapada-
- Dolphin watching
- Migratory bird sighting
- Nalaban Bird Sanctuary (Best time is November- December- January)
- Sea mouth (where the Chillika lake opens into the sea)
Chillika Lake has the highest density of Irrawaddy Dolphins in the world. Satapada is one of the best spots in India to spot these elusive animals.
Read the Raghurajpur heritage village story- http://www.wandererdoc.in/2018/02/visit-heritage-village-raghurajpur-odisha/