India has various landforms in its soil. From the Mighty Himalayas to the Deserts of Thar, India has unique Landforms in every mile! Lakes too are important aspects of the Indian environment. Lakes can be broadly classified into two types i.e Freshwater Lakes and Saltwater Lakes. However, there are other classifications of lakes as well. Lake Chilika is the largest saltwater lake in India.
1. Chilika Lake( Largest Saltwater Lake In India )
Chilika Lake is the largest saltwater lake in India. It is situated in the state of Orissa covering over 1,165 sq km across Puri, Ganjam, and Khurda districts. This lake is also the second-largest brackish water lagoon in the world after the New Caledonian Barrier Reef which is located in South Pacific.
Lake Chilka is formed at the mouth of the river Daya which ultimately drains into the Bay Of Bengal. Apart from the largest saltwater lake, it is the largest coastal lagoon in India. Moreover, Lake Chilika is on the tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Biodiversity Of Lake Chilika
Lake Chilika is an important place for biodiversity. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds in the Indian Sub-continent. Moreover, it is home to some of the rare birds in the world.
This lake is very popular for eco-tourism in Orissa. A lot of Tourists come to this lake to see the thousands of Migratory Birds. Migratory Birds come to this lake from Siberia, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. These Birds travel a great distance (approx 12,000 km) to reach Lake Chilika. Moreover, A survey shows that 45 percent of the birds are terrestrial, 32 percent are waterfowl, and 23 percent are waders.
Chilika Lake also has several islands. Nalabana Island and Breakfast Island is the most popular among them. Nalabana Island is stretched across 15 sq km within the Lake and it is the prime spot for breeding and nesting of birds. However, during monsoons, this Island is usually submerged underwater.
Indian Government recognized the rich biodiversity of the area and declared it as the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary in 1973. Chilika is home to some of the endangered animals and It is only the remaining known habitat of Irrawaddy Dolphins in India.
Winter is the Best Season to visit this lake as thousands of Migratory Birds come during this season. This place is usually full of Bird Watchers and Bird Researchers during Winters.
Lake Chilika is 120 km away from the Bhubaneshwar and a Road Drive takes around 2 to 3 hours to reach this place.
Suggested Reading – TOP 10 Largest Freshwater Lakes in India
2. Sambhar Salt Lake
The Sambhar Salt Lake is the largest inland salt lake in India. It is located 64 km from the Ajmer city near the historic Sambhar Lake Town. Sambhar Lake has a catchment area of 5700 square km and it is fed by Medtha, Samaod, Mantha, Rupangarh, Khari, and Khandela rivers out of which Medtha and Rupangarh are main streams.
The depth of the water in the lake can range from 60 cm during the summers to 3m in the monsoons. Additionally, this lake is an extensive saline wetland. Moreover, the circumference of the lake is 96 km and it is surrounded by Aravalli Hills from all sides.
This lake is very important from an economic perspective. It is the source of most of the salt production in the Rajasthan state. It produces approximately196,000 tonnes of salt every year.
Apart from the economic perspective, this lake is also vital from an ecological perspective. This lake has been designated as the Ramsar site because wetlands are important areas for the breeding of migratory birds(Flamingos, sandpipers, etc.) from northern Asia and Siberia. However, due to environmental degradation near the lake, nearly 20,000 migratory birds are found dead! Thus the ecology of the area is a major concern for environmentalists.
Sambhar Lake is popular for Film Shooting as well. Bollywood films such as Delhi 6, PK, Jodha Akbar, and many more are shooted here! The famous song, Lahore by Guru Randhawa is also shooted here.
You can easily reach Sambhar Lake by taking a bus from Jaipur and Nagaur. The nearest railway station to this lake is Sambhar Salt Lake Station.
The scenic beauty of Sambhar Lake is Amazing! The beauty of the lake amplifies when its a full moon night. In the full moon, Sambhar Lake looks like a neverending land of Silver!
3. Lonar Lake
Lonar Lake is a natural saltwater lake formed by the asteroidal collision. It is located in the Lonar area of the Buldhana district of Maharastra. Moreover, it is a National Geo-heritage monument. Lonar Lake has a mean diameter of 1.2 km and a circumference of about 4.8 km.
The meteoritic lake is green in color due to the presence of cyanobacteria. Also, the lake is home to a large variety of plants and animals. Birds Like grebes, ducks, blue jays, shelducks, black-winged stilts are present near the lake. Due to the diverse wildlife, this lake is declared as Lonar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Lonar Lake is an interesting place for the Geologists. Geologists believed that asteroidal impact would have occurred nearly 52,000 years ago. A recent study conducted by IIT Bombay says that the minerals found in Lonar Lake are similar to the minerals found at Moon.
Recently, the water in the lake is changed from green to Pink within 3 days! The higher salinity and fewer water levels promoted the growth of Halobacterium which resulted in a change of color.
The ecosystem of the lake is under threat due to human activities. The use of excessive fertilizer and pesticides in fields surrounding the lake resulted in water pollution. Illegal Deforestation by the locals is also a major concern. Moreover, the streams that fed this lake is used by locals for washing and bathing. Also, the Lakes’s ecosystem is being damaged by dumping the sewage in the Lake.
Lonar is not well connected to major cities. You have to reach Aurangabad first and then take a cab or bus to reach lonar. The distance of Lonar Lake from Aurangabad is 150 km and it will take around 2 hours to reach here.
4. Pulicat Lake
Lake Pulicat is the second largest brackish water lagoon in India. Pulicat Lake is located in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and it covers an area of 759 sq km. It is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a barren island named Sriharikota which is home to Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
Apart from some smaller streams, Lake Pulicat is fed by the Arani river from the southern end and Kalangi River from the northwest side. The salinity of the water touches as high as 52 ppm and can reach at 0 during monsoons.
Birds like Kingfishers, storks, and Flamingos are some of the birds found in the region. Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary is also located in its catchment area. Additionally, The scenic beauty of this place is also mesmerizing.
This Lake is 60 km from the Chennai and the nearest airport and railway station is in Chennai as well. You can reach this Canal by taking National Highway 16 from Chennai.
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5. Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso Lake is the natural saltwater lake located in the Himalayan Region of India and China. It is located at an elevation of 4,255 m and extends from Tibet(China) to Ladakh. The Lake is 5km wide at its broadest point and covers an area of 604 square km. Despite being saline water, the lake freezes completely during winters.
Approximately 60% of the lake lies in Tibet and 40% area of the Lake is controlled by India. However, the area share of the lake is always a disputed matter.
The eastern part of the Pangong lake is fresh while the western part of the lake is saline. Visitors say that there is very low vegetation along the Indian side of the lake. The lake also acts as a breeding ground for a large number of migratory birds. Low biodiversity is reported due to high salinity and difficult natural conditions.
An inner line permit is required to visit the Lake which can be obtained from Leh at nominal fees. India does not allow boating in the lake due to security reasons.
6. Pachpadra Lake
Pachpadra Lake is located in the Barmer District of Rajasthan. The salinity level of this lake is marked as high as 98%. Pachpadra lake covers a total area of 25 sq km.
Pachpadra lake is very famous as a picnic spot among locals. This lake also has some of the majestic views in the local area. If You need a spot for seeing salt beauty then come here for a Picnic! Moreover, this lake is also used for extraction of salt.
In the End…
Lakes always offer some of the majestic views of Nature. The white color of dried saltwater lakes makes this lake a place worth visiting. Also, the biodiversity in these lakes is a major attraction. Many migratory birds come to these lakes for breeding in winters. However, human activities are affecting the health of these lakes to a large extent! We must take care of these kinds of Natural Wonders because they are under a great threat!
Take Away – Chilika Lake is the largest saltwater lake in India.
Suggested Reading – TOP 10 Largest Freshwater Lakes in India
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