Odisha is a tropical state constituting a part of the Eastern ghat ranges of India. Its diverse and varied topography consisting of hills, valleys, dense ever-green forests, scrub Jungles, estuaries and man-made forests, harbours an exciting variety of flora of fauna.
Similipal National Park spread across 2750 sq. kms including 845.70 sq. km as protected area. The best time to visit this park isin between November - February, Similipal National Park is located in Mayubhanj District, 270 kms away of Bhubaneswar. It is one of Indian's earliest Tiger Reserve, declared a national park in 1972, is home to about 100 tigers.
Similipal National Park
Similipal comprises dense sal forests interspersed with rosewood, broken by expanse of savannah grasslands. Spectacular view is provided by perennial streams traversing the forest, gorges and falling cascades. The lavish bounds of the park provide natural habitat to a rich variety of flora and fauna which includes 1076 species of plants including 94 varieties of orchids, 42 species of mammals, 231 species of birds and 29 species of reptiles.
Apart from the elusive tiger this biosphere reserve boasts leopards, gaur (Indian Bison), langurs, barking and spotted dear, sloth bears, mongoose, flying squirrels, porcupines, turtles, pythons, monitor lizards and pangolins. The rare muggers, marsh crocodiles can be spotted in rivers or basking on the banks. Near the Western entry point at Jashipur there is a Crocodile Rearing Centre, where the reptiles can be observed at close quarters. Herds of elephants walking majestically especially in the grasslands at Bacchuri Chara, also one of the best spots to view wildlife, is a regular sight. The big cats can be spotted on the hilly tracts or around the salt licks at places like Chahala. The peaks of Khairibaru (1178 m), Meghasani (1158 m) and also the gorgeous waterfalls, such as those at Joranda (150 m) and Barehipani (400 m) are of great attractions of Similipal National Park.
Bhitarkanika is the second largest mangrove forest after Sundarbans of West Bengal. It is located in around the delta of the Brahmani and Baitarani rivers with more than 60 of the 72 known species of mangrove plants found here. Proclaimed a sanctuary in 1975 and national park in 1998, it is famous for the visit of the most endangered species of Olive Ridley marine turtles in hundreds of thousands from December to March, across the Pacific and Indian oceans to lay eggs.
This deltaic region encompassing a couple of offshore islands, long sandy beaches, numerous rivulets and meandering creeks is a natural habitat for a lot of reptiles including largest number of estuarine crocodiles in the country, king cobra, lizards and phythons. The wildlife comprises of wild pigs, monkeys sambar, spotted deer etc. and also harbours a variety of bird life. The pride of Dangmala Crocodile centre is sankhua, the rare white crocodile. The 9th century temples of shiva and shakti at Dangmal are also the most visited sites inside the sanctuary.
Nandankanan (literal meaning garden of gods) is a man made zoo spread across 4.37 Sq. km just 15 kms far away from Bhubaneswar. It is located amidst natural environs of the Chandaka forest along the banks of Kanjia lake lays Nandankanan famous for its white tigers. Established in 1960, the zoo together with the lake and botanical garden was notified as a sanctuary on 3rd August, 1979. The floral diversity of the sanctuary manifests itself in 424 species of plans of 87 families. Nandankanan is a vibrant centre for the wildlife conservation regularly imparting education and awareness regarding wildlife and its care.
Over 1100 animal (mammals, reptiles, and birds) belonging to 151 species live in a habitat close to their natural one. There are tigers including the rare white ones, rhinos, panthers, leopards and a variety of wild fowl and reptiles. The zoo has successfully bread a number of highly endangered species like black panthers, white tigers and gharials in captivity.
The other notable attraction includes a 20 minute white tiger and lion safari in armoured vehicles. The reptile part has a variety of crocodiles, turtles, snakes and lizards and the aquarium, which are home to a large variety of fresh water fishes. One can watch aquatic birds and their natural activities the bank of lake, nocturnal animal house and herbs of free living deer. A fantastic 620 m long aerial rope way takes visitors across the lake from zoo to botanical garden with its cactus house and rosarium. The boat ride 2/4 seater paddle boad and family boat in the clear blue waters of Kanjia lake is very enjoyable. The elephant ride is an added feature.