Orissa also known as Odisha is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Odisha was established on 1 April 1936 at Kanika Palace, Cuttack, as a province in India, and consists predominantly of Odia speakers.1 April is therefore celebrated as Utkal Divas (Odisha Day).
- Chilka Lake: One of Orissa's major attractions is its 500 km long coastline and beaches and natural scenery, Asia's largest brackish water lake.
- Tharea is an important bird sanctuary for millions of birds, and is also noted for its population of Irrawaddy Dolphin 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 Orissa 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 Orissa Tourism Department organises "dolphin-watch" for tourists. Even during monsoon, about 100 tourists/day visit the lake. Major beaches in Orissa 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 Orissa 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, Dairingbadi, Barunei, Dhamra, Chandbali, Tensa, Narayani and Saptasajya.
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