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Mangalajodi is a former poachers’ village in Odisha that has transformed itself into a birdwatchers’ paradise.

What Is It?

It is a fishing village on the banks of the Odisha’s Chilika Lake. Until a couple of decades ago, it was infamous for poachers who hunted the hundreds of species of birds that are found here. Then the government persuaded them to give up hunting for conservation and they created an environmental and tourism success story.

Mangalajodi Ecotourism promotes local materials, employs locals and ploughs profit back into conservation. Former poachers are now passionate about protecting the wildlife of the area and take pride in showing off the rich biodiversity to visitors.

Where Is It? 

Mangalajodi is on the northern shore of the Chilika Lake, a brackish water body along India’s east coast. This more than 1000 square kilometre lake is home to countless species of rare birds. It is also India’s largest wintering ground for migratory birds such as egrets, wagtails and warblers.

Image Courtesy: lakshmisharath

What’s Else?

Wake up bright and early for a long ride in a local boat and admire thousands and thousands of bird species that literally carpet the lake. The guides are very knowledgeable about the habits of each species and will happily tell you the story of how Mangalajodi went from killing birds to protecting them. Accompany a local as he patrols the marshes for any hunting activity. Make sure you bring binoculars and the fanciest camera you can find. Stay in basic but comfortable dorms or cottages and wake up to the sound of bird song or bird orchestras!

Mangalajodi is a manufacturing hub for local boats. Visit a workshop to see how they are crafted. Feast on the simple but delicious local cuisine that is dominated by fish.

Deets:

Mangalajodi Ecotourism, Mangalajodi, Khurda, Odisha. Check out their website.

Mangalajodi is a birdwatcher’s paradise. For bird lovers, if there is a heaven on earth, it is here.

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Author

He likes long walks, getting lost, sleeper class and budget travel.