Bhubaneswar, January 4 (Localwire): If you love birds and also want to experience ecotourism at its best, Mangalajodi is the go-to-place for you.
Tucked away in the northeastern fringe of Orissa’s more famous Chilika Lake, it is one of the oldest villages under Tangi block of Khordhadistrict in Odisha
It is also an interesting story of how the poachers’village turned into the biggest protectors of environments and with help from the Chilika Development Authority, Department Forest and Environment, and several agencies reversed the situation—from 5,000 birds as counted during the census in the year 2000, to be a home of over 300,000 birds now.
Here are 10 facts that you should know before planning your next bird-watching trip to this huge marshy flyway.
1. The Mangalajodiarea spread across nearly 10 sq. km is primarily a freshwater zone that is connected by channels cut through the reed beds with the brackish water of Chilika lagoon.
2. Numerous channels that crisscross through the greenery in Mangalajodi are home to thousands of migratory and resident water birds.
3. The wetland hosts more than 300,000 birds in the peak season—October to March—and is a significant global waterfowl habitat that has been declared as Important BirdArea (IBA) by BirdLife International using internationally agreed set of criteria.
An IBA is an area identified as globally important for the conservation of bird populations.
4. The natives of village Mangalajodi are mainly of fishermen, who go fishing every evening to Chilika Lake and come back the next morning with fresh catch.
5. Local communities still dwell on the indigenous methods of catching fish using country made fishing nets that are made of bamboo and do not pose a threat to aquatic life.
6. Mangalajodi was famous as poachers’ village because of the involvement of villagers in waterbird poaching on a large, commercial scale, to an extent that they even did not spare the eggs.
7. The change of the heart of the villagers has helped make Mangalajodi a birds’ paradise that attracts birds from all across the globe making it one of the best spots for birding in the entire Chilika lake region.
During winters, one can expect to see the following birds in Mangalajodi: Grebes, Cormorants/Shags, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns, Storks, Ibises, Geese and Ducks, Raptors, Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Rails, Crakes, Moorhens, Coots, Jacanas, Waders, Gulls and Terns, Kingfishers, Swifts, Bee-caters, Larks, Swallows, Wagtails and Pipits, Robins, Thrushes, Babblers, Prinias, Warblers, Munias, Sparrows, Weavers, Starlings, and Mynahs.
The effort by the locals has led to improved biodiversity in the area, including, fishes, snakes, monitor lizards, and the endangered Fishing Cat.
The wetland is home to many fish species including Illisha (Hilsa), Khainga(Mullet), Bhekti, Kanna, Kokill or Anchovy, Rice Fish, Panchax, Puffer Fish, Archer Fish, Climbing Perch, Dwarf Gourami, Eleotrid, GlassFish, Pipe Fish, and Mud Skipper.
9. Mangalajodi Eco Tourism Trust, which is owned by the local community and manages the wildlife conservation initiative, was awarded the prestigious United Nations WorldTourism Organisation Award for Innovation in Tourism Enterprise in 2018.
10. The state government in 2018 decided to host the National Chilika Bird Festival at Mangalajodi on 27-28 January each year to promote Chilika as the global destination for bird watching and wildlife photography.
How to reach?
By Flight: The nearest airport is Biju Pattnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar and one can easily travel to Mangalajodi from there by taxi.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Kalupadaghat on the Southeastern Railway’s Howrah-Chennai line and Mangalajodi is 30 km from the Khurda Road railway station. Trains stop at Mukteswar Passenger Halt station, between Kalupada Ghat and Bhusandpur railway stations.
By Road: It is located about 70 km south-west of Bhubaneswar off NH 16 that connects Bhubaneswar to Berhampur and one can easily take a car or a bus from here.
If you are coming from Tangi town in the Khurda, you will find Mangalajodi about four km in the southeast direction. The nearest well-known place is Chandpur and you can get off at Chandpur Tangi and take a three-wheeler to Mangalajodi.
Buses also regularly ply from Bhubaneswar to Tangi.
(Source: Mangalajodi Eco-Tourism and Khorda district websites)
Pic: Sivans Dash