Mangalajodi – Eco-tourism’s finest representation in Odisha
Also known as ‘The Birds Paradise’, this tiny hamlet inside the world-famous Chilika Lake hosts lakhs of birds in its marshy waters every winter.
Come chill, Mangalajodi magnetizes you and the tweeting sounds of the migratory birds are simply awe-insipring.
Two things stand out prominently in Mangalajodi: a sustainable eco-system and community-owned.At the heart of Managalajodi Ecotourism is the egalitarian idea that fragile ecosystems belong to everybody and their protection is vital.
Tucked away in the north-eastern edge of Chilika Lake, this little rural landscape is among the hundred odd villages with rich wetlands.Mangalajodi is lesser known than the parent lagoon – The Chilika Lake.But its importance as an eco-tourism spot is remarkable.
By the middle of October, birds start arriving at Mangalajodi .There is a rush of winged activity in the air. Flocks of birds are seen circling the skies over Mangalajodi.Feels, as if they are on a recce. Soon, they are followed by larger flocks in characteristic formations.
From bird murmurs early on, the sound that envelops the wetlands at the peak of the migration, especially in the nights, can best be termed as a ‘bird roar.’
A Falcon perches exactly at the same point on the mud bund as it had done the previous year while the Bluethroat might come and settle on your brown shoe if you are motionless.
As the birds land and settle amongst the lakhs of water-lilies in the wetlands, the place has an amazing sight. Slowly but surely, the swamplands begin to fill in with lakhs of Ruffs, godwits, plovers, sandpipers and migratory ducks.
Mangalajodi’s muddy wetlands sprinkled with reeds, vegetation and water running through the channels are eternal sources of food and shelter for the itinerant birds.By February-March, they fly back home.
An hour and thirty minute drive from Odisha’s capital city Bhubaneswar, Mangalajodi is slowly making its mark on the avian map of India.It has now carved a place in world tourism chart because of the unique conservation effort by intransigent poachers.
RBS & IGS program
Some time ago, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Indian Grameen Services (IGS) started community development initiatives to provide support for alternative livelihood to the Mangalajodi poachers.
Mangalajodi is an exemplary turnaround story – the poachers are now the protectors of the wetlands and the birds. The most feared poachers are today the best bird guides!
According to India’s ace birdman and author Bikram Grewal, Mangalajodi is far ahead of other wetlands in the country in terms of the richness of the habitat, the number of birds, and the proximity at which one gets to see the birds.
How to get there
By road: Mangalajodi is about 70 km. south-west of Bhubaneswar off National Highway No. 5 that connects Bhubaneswar to Berhampur. It is about four km. southeast of Tangi town in the Khurda district of Orissa. The nearest well-known place is Chandpur. Visitors can get off at Chandpur- Tangi and take an autorikshaw to Mangalajodi. Alternately, they can hire a taxi from Bhubaneswar. Buses regularly ply from Bhubaneswar to Tangi.
By rail: It is 30 km. from Khurda Road railway station. The nearest railhead is Kalupadaghat on the East Coast Railway’s Howrah-Chennai line.
Best time to visit: Between November and February. Mid-December to end-January sees the largest congregation of birds. The wetlands are closed to visitors for two days in the first or second week of January for the Forest Department’s annual waterfowl census. So, do check before firming up your programme.
Places around Mangalajodi: A visit to Mangalajodi can be combined with a visit to the Bhetabara dam area, popularly known as the Tangi forests.
Where to stay: Mangalajodi Ecotourism offers basic stay facilities at Mangalajodi in the form of eco-cottages and dormitories. They also offer packages that include stay, meals and guided boating.
For details visit: www.mangalajodiecotourism.com
Tel.: +91 88952 88955/+91 97766 96800.