Tourism in Odisha
Tourism in Odisha, India has grown considerably in recent years due to the various attractions of Odisha, ranging from wildlife reserves and beaches to temples and monuments and the arts and festivals.
One of Odisha's major attractions is its 500 km long coastline and beaches and natural scenery such as Chilka Lake, Asia's largest brackish water lake. There is an important bird sanctuary for millions of birds, and is also noted for its population of Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), the only known population of Irrawaddy dolphins in India  It is one of only two lagoons in the world that are home to this species.
Dolphin tourism provides an important alternative source of income for many local residents. There are four tourist associations in Satapada employing three hundred and sixty 9-HP long-tail motor boats taking tourists to a 25 km2 (9.7 sq mi) area of the lake for dolphin watching. About 500 fishing families are involved in this business. The Odisha Tourism Department and the Dolphin Motorboat Association, an NGO at Satpada, report about 40,000 tourists visit Chilika every year for dolphin Watching. October–January and May–June are the peak season for tourists at Chilika, with a maximum 600-700 per day during December–January. The Dolphin Motorboat Association has 75 8-passenger motorboats for dolphin watching. Tourists pay Rs. 250 for 60–90 minutes per trip. According to the Association, most tourists see dolphins. Only 5% return disappointed. Besides the Association, the Odisha Tourism Department organises "dolphin-watch" for tourists. Even during monsoon, about 100 tourists/day visit the lake. Major beaches in Odisha include Gopalpur, Puri, Chandipur and Chandrabhaga and the waterfalls of Barehipani and Joranda, Badaghagra, Sanaghagra and Khandadhar are common attractions. The hot springs at Atri, Deulajhari, Taptapani and Tarabalo also attract tourists.
The state has rich flora and fauna inhabited the lush green forest and is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. Eco-tourism is important in Odisha and notable wildlife sanctuaries include Bhitar Kanika, Chandaka, Chilika, Simlipal, Tikarpada, Gahirmatha and Nandan Kanan. Locations which attract tourists because of their natural scenery include Darjeeng, Daringbadi, Barunei, Dhamra, Chandbali, Tensa, Narayani and Saptasajya.
Eco-tourism provides a degree of alternate employment to the local community and generates environmental awareness, among local residents as well as visitors, about the conservation and sensible use of the lake’s natural resources. Notable locations within the lake are:
- Ramba Bay at the southern end of the lake with the group of islands including:
- The Becon Island, with an architectural conical pillar (to put a light on the top) built by Mr. Snodgrass, the then collector of Ganjam of the East India Company, on a mass of rock in the Rambha Bay near Ghantasila hill. It is surrounded by the Eastern Ghat.
- The Breakfast Island, pear shaped, known as "Sankuda island", with remnants of a dilapidated bungalow constructed by the King of Kalikote, has rare plants and is full of greenery with appealing flora.
- Honeymoon Island, 5 km (3.1 mi) from Rambha Jetty, known as Barkuda Island, with clear waters has abundant red and green macro algae in the bed is also known for the limbless lizard, an endemic species found here.
- Somolo and Dumkudi islands, located in the Central and Southern sectors of the lake, in the backdrop of scenic Khalikote hill range, are inundated remnants of the Eastern Ghats with rich flora and fauna and also known for sighting of Irrawaddy Dolphins.
- Birds' island, located in the southern sector of the lake has huge exposed hanging rocks, are painted white due to folic acid of the droppings of the birds and is known for rich algal communities and few mangrove species and also migratory birds in winter.
- Parikud is a group of composite islands in the Garh Krishnaprasad Block for nature lovers and provides an avian spectacle during winter season
- Kalijai Temple located on an island is considered to be the abode of the Goddess Kalijai
- Satapada village, at the new mouth of the lake, provides a beautiful view of the Lake and also views of the Dolphins. Hundreds of boats here provide tours of the lake for tourists.
- Barunkuda, a small island situated near Magarmukh, mouth of the lake, has a temple of Lord Varuna.
- Nabagraha is an ancient deity located along the outer channel.
- Chourbar Shiva Temple is located near Alupatna village, along the outer channel.
- Manikpatna, located on the outer channel has historical evidence of a port which was used for trade with Far East and also has the Bhabakundeswar temple of Lord Shiva, an old Mosque whose entrance door is made of the jaws of the whale.
- Sand-Bar and Mouth of the Lake is a striking and un-explored stretch of 30 km (18.6 mi) of empty beach across the sand bar which separates the Lake from the Sea.
Temples and monuments
Odisha's history dates back to 2000 BC and the state features many ancient monuments ranging from the ruins of Sisupalgarh, Lingaraj Temple and Jagannath Temple, to the World Heritage Site of the Konark Sun Temple. There is also the carved Mukteswar Temple and other such temples, the 64 Yogini Shrine and Rajarani. A number of these sites in Odisha have been subject to important archaeological finds, especially at Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udaigiri which attracts tourists. Buddhist sites are also visited in Odisha, such as the Buddhist monuments of Dhauli, Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri, and Udaygiri.
- Sutaria, Dipani (2007). "Irrawaddy dolphin - India" (PDF). Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- Sinha, R.K. (May–August 2004). "THE IRRAWADDY DOLPHINS ORCAELLA OF CHIL1KA LAGOON, INDIA'". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society (Parangipettai - 608 502, Tamil Nadu , India: Environmental Information System ENVIS, Annamalai University, Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology) 101 ((2)): 244–251.
- "Wildife". Odisha Tourism. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
- Chilika Development Authority. "Eco Tourism". Retrieved 2009-03-31.[dead link]
- "Monuments". Odisha Tourism. Retrieved March 31, 2009.