Column: Let’s Showcase Chilika Like The Thames

By Ashutosh Mishra

London: Thames is a beautiful river and a major tourist attraction of the city. It is part of city’s life. The view of the river from any of the bridges over it is breath-taking. But watching it from inside the London Eye, the giant wheel that is an iconic city landmark, is a different experience altogether. As the capsule that you are sitting in reaches the top the London skyline and the river flowing below are a treat to watch.

One the one hand you have the view of skyscrapers like the Shard, the 95-storey super-modern structure designed by an Italian architect, on the other you get to see the Parliament, the Westminster Abbey and the under-repair Big Ben from the best possible vantage point. Look below and there is the Thames dotted with boats and yachts including a floating restaurant and bar.

The view of and from the London Eye is even more spectacular with hundreds of shimmering lights turning the area into a little wonderland. If you happen to be on the Waterloo bridge after the sunset it is worth spending some time there watching the river and the landmarks around it in the glow of lights.

What strikes a visitor immediately is how the riverside has been beautified with lots of landscaped open spaces for people to sit and enjoy themselves. On weekends droves of people flock to tourists attractions on the banks of the Thames to spend time with their families. Gift shops and eateries line such places but cleanliness is ensured. That is an added reason why the experience is all the more memorable.

Watching the Thames and the beautiful landmarks that surround it I was reminded of our own Chilika lake which is such a huge and beautiful waterbody with immense potential to draw tourists. But we have done precious little to beautify its surroundings and to make it more attractive to the visitors. One of our first priorities as far as Chilika is concerned should be freeing it from the clutches of the prawn mafia whose culture dykes dot almost every part of this water body which is an internationally acclaimed wetland.

Equally important is keeping the lake clean by regulating the operation of tourist boats which keep churning its waters day in and day out. A large number of these boats fitted with outboard engines are not only unattractive but invariably overloaded with tourists eager to see dolphins, a major attraction of the lake, from close quarters.

Apart from dolphins, the only other things tourists get to see are red crabs and the meeting point of the sea and the river. Boat drives are more interested in tourists spending a major part of their time at thatched lakeside shops selling Chilika fish, prawns and crabs.

There is hardly any attempt to beautify the islands within the lake. The island that draws the maximum crowd is the one with the shrine of goddess Kalijai, the presiding deity of the lake. If we are really keen about promoting Chilika as a tourist destination we have a lot to learn from the authorities who have turned the Thames into such a huge attraction.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)