A trip to Satapada in Odisha, the place of Irrawaddy dolphins
Satapada is the place in Puri district where one can witness Irrawaddy dolphins leaping in the water of Chilka lagoon. Located at a distance of 48 kilometres from Puri, the tourist destination is visited by hordes of tourists, especially on day trips. The reporter visited Satapada on December 1, 2018. A report.
I set out from Bhubaneswar along with four friends in a sports utility vehicle at 8.30 pm on December 1. We took the Puri bypass road at the hi-tech square and drove through Uttara chowk. Before the Batamangala temple at the entrance of Puri, we kept to the right side road and after a few kilometres took the right turn. We traveled through Brahmagiri (28 km from Satapada) and reached Satapada at 11 pm and found that the whole town was sleeping.
It was my first ever trip to Satapada. After moving here and there for a while we managed to spot the Yatri Nivas, run by the OTDC. They were closed but we managed to awake one of the staffs. Fortunately, they were co-operative enough and did not mind to host us late at night. They allotted us two furnished suites and also served us dinner as per our food choice. Since two people in our group were vegetarian they opted for Chilli paneer with fried rice and rest of the people enjoyed delicacies of fish and prawn. One needs to spend a night at Satpada to witness the cherished sunrise and sunset.
Next day morning we enjoyed upama and puri with sabji in the restaurant of Yatri Nivas and booked a boat at the reception. The OTDC operated boats use petrol as fuel and so the noise level is too low while most of the private boats are propelled with diesel and make a loud noise. The boatman Ganesh also handed over life jackets to us. Noise pollution is a hindrance for the nature lovers who want to spend some quality time in the serene atmosphere. Besides, the bigger issue is, the dolphins get disturbed and move away of sight.
We took an eight-seater OTDC run boat that costed us about Rs. 1300 for a to and fro boat trip to the dolphin point. The boatman, with remarkable skills, guided our boat through a complicated maze of fishing nets attached to bamboo poles.
From the jetty, it took us about half an hour to reach the dolphin point where we witnessed Irrawaddy dolphins swimming in flocks of two to five. We were expecting the site of leaping dolphins but it was not so. However, our boatman intimated that morning is the right time to visit the dolphin point when one can get glimpses of dolphins leaping above the water.
After spending some time at the dolphin point we headed towards a narrow stretch of sand that houses some makeshift food stalls selling fresh fried fish and crabs. Though the price was a little bit high we enjoyed having food in that naturally gifted atmosphere.
It was time now for the return trip. We drove back to the jetty and stood for a while at the tower to enjoy the beauty of Chilika lagoon. Then after spending some time at the bus stand, we returned back to Bhubaneswar.
Fish, crab, and prawn are plenty available in Satapada. Visitors should try out the desi preparations here.
There are a few hotels available for night stay at Satapada. However, the OTDC run Yatri Nivas is undeniably the ideal place for night stay. It has its own restaurant that caters tasty vegetarian and non-vegetarian food besides snacks and tea. Apart from that you can book a boat right here and can get proper tourist information. There are some roadside eateries also where good seafoods are available.
By Himanshu Guru