Wild India – Odisha, India

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(Photo from: http://www.happytrips.com/orissa/travel-guide/top-10-wildlife-sanctuaries-in-odisha/gs47985930.cms)

The state of Odisha offers some of the most beautiful and bewitching wildlife destinations and nature hotspots in India. These tiger reserves and wild life sanctuaries are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.


Simlipal National Park

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Location: Located in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. It is part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve. One can enter Similipal through Pithabata (22 kilometres from Baripada) and 98 km via Jashipur. Entry permits can be obtained from the Range Officer, Pithabata check gate upon paying prescribed fees.

Attractions: Covering a vast are of 2750 square kilometres, out of which 303 square kilometres form the core area, this biosphere reserve is a sanctuary, one of the tiger reserves and a national park.

With a wide range of rainfall and edaphic variations, from dry deciduous to moist green forests, it is suitable to many species of flora and fauna. About 1076 species of mammals, 29 types of reptiles and 231 species of birds are in this plateau.

The average mean elevation of Similipal is 900 meters. There are tall Sal trees in large numbers. Sweet scented champak flowers freshen the air. The richly hued orchids on the green foliage are soothing.

Several rivers like Budhabalanga, Khairi, Salandi and Palpala originate from the hills and meander through the forest. Many of them have cascading rapids and foaming falls before leaving for the plains.

The major mammals include tiger, leopard, Asian elephant, sambar, barking deer, gaur, jungle cat, wild boar, chausingha (four horned antelope), giant squirrel and common langur.

There are 231 species of birds nest in these forests. Red jungle fowl, hill mynah, peafowl, Alexandrine parakeet, crested serpent eagle are the commonly found birds. The grey hornbill, Indian pied hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill and Indian trogon are also found in the reserve.

Best Time to Visit: Similipal National Park is open from 1 October to 15 June.

Things to do: Jeep safari, bird watching, nature walks, visit to water falls, treks between Brundaban to Chahala and treks between Sitakund to Machhkandna.


Gahirmatha (Marine) Wildlife Sanctuary

(Photo from: http://www.odisharajya.com/tourism/gahirmatha_marine_sanctuary.html)

Location: The marine sanctuary stretches from Dharma River in the north to Mahanadi River in the south. It adds a width of approximately 20 kilometres of the sea from the high tide line. The covered area includes 1408 square kilometres of seascape and 27 square kilometres of land mass composed of mudflats, beach and mangroves.

Attractions: A part of the Gahirmatha Beach, the Turtle Sanctuary is the place where one can spot Olive Ridley Turtles, the smallest of all the sea turtles. Taking a boat ride across the river and gradually venturing into the wide sea is an experience ridden with sheer thrill and excitement.

These turtles travel all the way from South Pacific Ocean to breed on the coast of Gahirmatha. About half a million of these species visit the beach every year for mating. The vast expanse of the Gahirmatha beach is the best place to witness mass nesting, a phenomenon often termed as Arribadas.

Best Time to Visit: October to May.

Things to do: Boat trips and turtle watching along the beach.


Satkosia Tiger Reserve

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Location: Satkosia Tiger Reserve is a tiger reserve located in the Angul district of Odisha, India covering an area of 988.30 square kilometres.

Attractions: Bestride a breath-taking gorge and cut by the great Mahanadi River, lies one of the most famous natural spots of Odisha—the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary. One of the lesser-known wonders of Odisha, Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary is an absolute delight for nature lovers.

Spread over 796 square kilometres, Satkosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1976 in Odisha. The sanctuary is popular for its deciduous forests, dry deciduous forests and moist peninsular Sal forests. A varied array of fauna such as Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Gaur, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Mouse Deer, Nilgai, Choushingha, Sloth Bear, and Wild Dog can be spotted here.

Best Time to Visit: October to May

Things to do: Nature trails, bird watching and boat rides.


Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary

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Location: Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary is in Nuapada district which is close boundary of Chhatisgarh state and it is on west border of Odisha. Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary is a grass covered plateau adjoining Udanti and Sitanadi Sanctuaries of Chhatisgarh State. This sanctuary also works as a migration link for rare wild Buffaloes between the states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

Attractions: Spread over sprawling area of 600 square kilometres, the sanctuary is home to tigers, leopards, hyena, barking deer, chital, gaur, sambar, sloth bear, hill mynah, pea fowl, partridge and a huge number of reptilian species.

Best Time to Visit: October to May.

Things to do: Nature trails, safaris and bird watching.


Chilika (Nalaban) Wildlife Sanctuary

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Location: Located to the south west of Puri, covering a widespread area of 1100 square kilometres, Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most visited wildlife sanctuaries in Odisha.

Attractions: This wildlife sanctuary is home to various migratory and local birds such as Flamingo, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Spot billed Pelican, Bareheaded Goose, Open billed Stork, Spoonbill, Brahminy Duck, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveller, Ibis, Stilt, Heron, Egret, Avocet, Gull, Tern and King Fisher.

Apart from residents and migratory birds, Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to Blackbuck, Spotted Deer, Golden Jackals, Hyenas and many more. Rich in aquatic wildlife, this sanctuary houses Dolphin, Prawn, Crab, Limbless Lizard and Crustaceans. More than 225 species of fish including Acentrogobius Griseus, Alepes Djedaba, Arius and the Elops Machnata are also found here.

Best Time to Visit: November to February.

Things to do: Boat rides, bird watching, observe marine life and nature walks.


Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary

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Location: Located 190 kilometres from Bhubaneswar and 160 kilometres from Cuttack, Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most renowned sanctuaries in Odisha. Popular for its crocodiles and turtles, the sanctuary is spread over 650 square kilometres and was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1975.

Attractions: The sanctuary has a thick mangrove forest which is home to a number of endangered and migratory birds. The three-hour boat ride that one has to undertake across the river amidst dense mangrove forests to reach Bhitarkanika is a thrilling experience in itself.

The list of migratory birds in the region includes white bellied sea eagle, woodpecker, sea gull, Brahminy ducks hornbill, bar-headed geese, and waders. Right opposite the forest, there is a sanctuary that breeds salt water crocodiles and the partially-white crocodile.

Admire the salt water crocodiles basking in the sun as your boat sails through the creeks, catch a glimpse of migratory birds as they fly past or simply marvel at the herd of deer that appears right in front of you as you are relaxing in your jungle lodge—the myriad experiences at Bhitarkanika National Park will leave you absolutely speechless.

Bhitarkanika also offers several rare mammals such as Hyena, Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Smooth Coated Otter, Civet, Indian Porcupine, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer and Sambar. The endangered Lesser Adjutant Stork also breeds here.

Best Time to Visit: October to March.

Things to do: Boat rides, bird watching, nature trails and safaris.


Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary

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Location: Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 346 square kilometres in the district of Sambalpur.

Attractions: The pleasant environs of the Hirakud Lake supporting a mixed deciduous forest provide a natural habitat to a variety of wild life. The waterfalls tumbling down the hill sides during the monsoon and the proximity of the large Hirakud reservoir attract a number of tourists.

The forest is occupied by the species of tiger, leopard, sloth bear, chital, sambar, and nilgai, along with a range of resident and migratory birds including the crested serpent eagle. To make the woodland environs more colourful, there are mugger crocodiles and freshwater turtles, among others.

Best Time to Visit: November to June.

Things to do: Nature trails, bird watching, boat rides and safaris.


Badrama Wildlife Sanctuary

(Photo from: http://www.qsl.net/vu2dpi/Badrama.htm)

Location: The sanctuary is situated at a distance of about 22 kilometres from Sambalpur. To the west of the Sanctuary lies Hirakud Dam. The sanctuary's dense deciduous forest are flanked by the Wardha and Penganga Rivers.

Attractions: The forests of this sanctuary are mainly dry deciduous, comprises of Sandalwood, Arjun, Neem, Acacia, Sal and Casuarinas.

Among various faunas of tropical forest the Badrama Wild Life Sanctuary preserves elephant, tiger, gaur, sambar, Black Panther, deer, wild boar and many other species. One could have the sight of these animals from the watchtowers near the saline tank or the water hole. One could as well drive along the forest road and watch them.

The sanctuary also has sloth bears which are quite rare but one can see them in the late evenings, when they come to drink water in the nearby river.

Best Time to Visit: October to May.

Things to do: Nature trails, Bird watching, safaris and watch towers to observe wild life.


Kotagarh Wildlife Sanctuary

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Location: Located in Baliguda subdivision, Kotagarh Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal place for nature lovers and animal enthusiasts. Spreading over 400 square kilometres of forest, the Kotagarh Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the important wildlife reserves of Orissa.

Attractions: The sanctuary is home to a large number of mammals and reptiles, it also has an aviary. The sanctuary is home to elephants, tigers, nilgai, chital, and wild boars. In the aviary, one can find peafowl, red jungle fowls and peacocks as well. If you plan to explore a lesser-known wonder of Odisha, then Kotagarh Wildlife Sanctuary is definitely the place to be.

Best Time to Visit: October to May.

Things to do: Nature trails, Bird watching and safaris.


Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary

(Photo from: https://swaroopsingharoy.com/2014/09/04/kuldiha-calls-again/)

Location:  Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the district of Balasore in the state of Orissa. The forests of the region cover the Nato Hills and the Sukhupata Hills merging with the Similipal National Park.

Attractions: One of the major Orissa wildlife sanctuaries, the Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary is home to rare species of animals and plants. The Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary in Orissa spreads across an area of 270 square kilometres.

The thick wooded forests of the region are home to wild animals like the tiger, elephant, leopards, sambar, bison, gaur and giant squirrels. The forest also houses a variety of birds like hornbills, hill mynah and peafowl. The perennial streams that water the forests are home to a variety of reptiles.

Even in the moonlight, one can catch sharp shadows of the pachyderms from a distance of 20 metres. It is a truly enjoyable sight to see the elephants shovelling the earth with their feet and trunks to get at the salt balls below.

Best Time to Visit: November to February.

Things to do: Nature trails, bird watching and safaris.


Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary

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Location: Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary of Orissa lies in the district of Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj. It is near the Hadgarh reservoir of Salandi dam.

Attractions: This region is rich in mixed deciduous forests and plays home to a variety of wildlife. The wide range of fauna that can be seen at Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary in Orissa, India includes leopard, tiger, fishing cat, jungle cat, elephant, langur, pangolin and hyena. Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary is also the abode of several species of birds and reptiles.

The Salandi River, passing through the forest is its lifeline. There is a dam on the river named Salandi Dam. The Salandi River is home to the Mugger Crocodiles.

Best Time to Visit: December to March.

Things to do: Nature trails, bird watching and safaris.