Find out where you can get up close and personal to nature’s spectacle in Orissa.
Surrounded by emerald green mountains and verdant valleys, Orissa loving embraces an amazing variety of flora and fauna. The state’s incredible wildlife can leave any onlooker spellbound. Home to the biggest brackish water lake in Asia, the second biggest mangrove forest in India and some of the raw species of wildlife, Orissa is the site of some rare ecological phenomena as well.
Come immerse yourself in nature.
A vast lake along the eastern cost of Orissa with beautiful islands, flamingoes wading in the shallow waters and the air echoing with the chirping of birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Aral Sea and other parts of Mongolia, Central and South-East Asia, the Irrawaddy dolphins making the playful appearance in the water…this is only a glimpse of the breath-taking beauty of Chilika. Asia’s largest brackish water estuarine lake.
Chilika sprawls over an area of 1100 sq.km covering parts of three districts of Orissa i.e. Puri on the east, Khurdha on the North and Ganjam on the South. It’s a haven for bird-watchers / nature lovers. Abounding in unique flora and fauna, Chilika supports the livelihood of more than hundred thousands families living in and around it. On the basis of salinity and the depth, the lake is divided into four natural sectors.
It is dotted with numerous islands prominent among which are Nalabangs, Kalijai, Somla, Honeymon, Breakfast, Birds and Rajahans. These islands draw large crowds owing to their incredible beauty. The rich bio-diversity and socio-economic importance of Chilika has earned t the status of Ramsar site. Winter is the best time to visit Chilika as over 160 species of migratory birds flock the islands during this time of the year. For the gourmet, Chilika offers varieties of crab and lobster ad shrimps , late autumn and early winter being the best period of the year to taste their delectable meat.
Bhitarkanika is nature’s treasure trove. The sea, sand, creeks, wildlife and scenic beauty of Bhitrakanika make it the most sought after ecological destinations. Spread over an area of 650 sq.km with a forest cover of 380 sq.km including 115.50 sq.km of mangrove forest, it is widely acclaimed for its rich bio-diversity. It is one of the rare swamps with a compact mangrove ecosystems in India, next only too Sunderbans in West Bengal. Thick forests where the sunlight can hardly reach the forest floor, estuarine swamps with over sixty varieties of mangroves plants, isolated beaches, variety of wildlife, giant turtles, ferocious crocodiles add to the thrill of Bhitarkanika.
There is adventure awaiting you at each step in these forests. Owing to its diverse ecotypes, it was notified as a sanctuary in 1975 and declared as a National Park. A couple of deltaic islands are also found in these regions, which are formed by the meandering creeks. Dangamala is at the centre with islands like Ekakula, Habali Khati around it. Home to the largest estuarine crocodiles in the Indian sub-continent, Dangmala in Bhitarkanika is also the proud possessor of Sankhua, the rare White Crocodile. One can also see the endangered species of Olive Ridley sea turtle in lakhs which come here every yea during December-April to lay eggs.
Nandan Kanan Zoological Park
As part of the dense Chandaka forest close to Bhubaneswar with a large swampy lake was chosen to be a zoo by the Orissa government three two decades ago. Called Nandan Kanan, literally meaning ‘The Garden of Heavens this sprawling complex houses wild animals like the tiger, in more or less natural surroundings: the environment for the tiger is truly exotic and this proud animal seems to thrive here even in captivity. The zoo has a number of first to its credit:
- It is the first zoo in India to become a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)
- an exclusive gene of white tigers has been brought into existence and
- 3 Indian varieties of crocodiles have been bred-something this had never bee done before.
It also contains a botanical garden .Nandan Kanan is famous for its white tiger population, the species it claims to have produced. Currently, Nandankanan is home to over 34 white tigers. Endangered species such as the Asiatic lion, three Indian crocodilians, Nilgiri langur, Indian pangolin, mouse deer and countless birds, reptiles and fish have been breeding successfully at Nandan Kanan. Some of the other attractions of Nandan Kanan are the 34 aquaria which are home to a large variety of fresh water fishes. The Reptile Park’s cave-like entrance is guarded by a life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex. Inside, numerous species of crocodiles, lizards, turtles and snakes share the park with natural ease.
Nestled on Khurdha uplands of’ North -Eastern Ghats’ biotic region, Chandaka forest is a relic of wild land that once extended all over Bhubaneswar. Spread over 193.39 sq.km of rolling table land and small sprawling hillocks of Khurdha and Cuttack Districts, it is a wildlife sanctuary since August 1982. Originally established to provide inviolate refuge for elephants with a view to minimize their depredation, the sanctuary is now a treasure trove of biodiversity.
This small but beautiful sanctuary has forest types well distributed in a mosaic of habitat sheltering variety of tropical Indian jungle fauna.
The sight of one of the most fabulous vistas of river and forest, the Satakosia gorge where the great Mahanadi river crashes in with monumental force is a dizzyingly enervating experience for the visitors. The meandering pace of the sensuous river, 22 kms of thick forest, offers scenic delight of the frothing, boiling water, as it wends its way through the fabulous gorge, considered to be one of the most enchanting spots in the world. It is the ideal place for boating, angling and other adventure sports. The Gharial crocodile sanctuary at Tikarpara is a must see for wildlife enthusiasts. Located at about 211 kms from Bhubaneswar and 58 kms from Angul, it offers forest bunglow accommodation at strategic places.