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A detour that dazzled

Text and photographs: Susmita Bhattacharya

It wasn't really our destination. We were meant to drive to Visakhapatnam from Bhubaneswar. But the shimmering water that lapped along NH 5 was too much to resist. We couldn't believe it was a lake: for we couldn't see the other side of the bank. It is big, blue and beautiful. This is the Chilika Lake, the largest coastal lake in India. It was formed by the silting action of the Mahanadi River, which empties itself into the Bay of Bengal by the northern end of the lake.

Finally, unable to resist the spectacular scenery of the beautiful azure lake on one side and thick green forests of the Eastern Ghats on the other, my husband and I stopped at the town of Rambha -- one of the three entry points to Chilika Lake. We decided to the stay the night at Chilika before resuming our journey to Vizag.

We booked a room at Panth Nivas, an Orissa Tourism Development Corporation holiday resort, which has a number of resorts dotted along other holiday spots in Orissa. It had a lovely cottage-like atmosphere. Our room was very basic, since we hadn't booked in advance and there wasn't anything else available, with a bed, an arm chair, a table, and a lizard and a frog for company!

The view from the resort was great. We were right on the lake. And as I stepped out into the little veranda outside our room, the full moon rose out from behind the lake.

The food was simple and yet so delicious. Fresh mackerel right out of the lake. Steaming hot rice and dal. Delicious vegetables. That was enough for us, being tired from all that driving. The manager informed us there was an OTDC floating restaurant that took tourists right into the lake for a leisurely cruise and dining. Well, that would have to wait for another time, we decided. Having had our fill, we were ready to sleep.

Thank goodness there was a mosquito net, or else I'd have the frog hopping on to me at night. He kept croaking, until I finally got up and lured it out of the room, and shut the door fast!

Also see: Excuse me while I kiss the sky
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