Chorao Island is the largest island among other 17 islands of Goa. It is located along the river Mandovi, 5 km away from the capital of the State, the city of Panaji and 10 km away from the city of Mapusa. The local citizens call the island Chodan or Chodna.
There are several legends connected to this place. One of them tells about the islands emerging from diamonds that were thrown away by the Mother of Lord Krishna – the Goodness Yashoda.
The Chorao Island is attractive primarily because of its amazing flora and fauna. Here you will see lots of mangroves – the amazing and beautiful forests growing in the water. In the western part of the island, on an area of 178 hectares, the largest bird sanctuary of Goa is located. The reserve has got its name from the famous Indian ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali and now it proudly bears the name of “Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary”.
The territory of this National Park is inhabited by migratory and local birds of over 400 species. The crocodiles can also be seen among the aquatic inhabitants of Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.
The transportation of visitors is conducted only by boats with accommodation of guides due to the fact that the National Park has no roads at all – just numerous water channels which cut the firm ground. To get to the reserve you should pay at the gate: the entrance ticket costs 50 rupees. You should pay the guide separately about 1000 rupees as well. The best time for excursions around the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is in the early morning and two hours before the sunset, when the birds are the most active.
The Chorao Island also preserves the traces of a very interesting ancient history, Indian Brahmin and Portuguese colonizers. The Island has several old houses, Catholic churches of the 16th century and dozens of Hindu temples. It is also well known that once the branch of famous University of Sanskrit and History of Literature was built on the territory of the Island.
You can reach the Island by any water transportation unit or on a regular ferry-boat from the village of Ribandar (the Ribandar ferry). The Chorao Island is recommended to visit during the touristic season (from November till April) when there are no rains in this part of Goa.