ORISSA: With Orissa’s long coastline of offshore islands, lagoons (Chilka is India’s largest salt-water lake), salt flats and deltas along the Bay of Bengal, it is possible to forget that inland, to the west, there are large areas of hill forest running into Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The varied habitats contain an equally wide-ranging bird and animal life. While the wildlife is rich and in many places exciting, few of Orissa’s parks have adequate infrastructure for visitors. The parks are off the beaten track and few have transport for hire or facilities for food.
Baisipalli Wildlife Sanctuary. Established in 1981 in the Eastern Ghats, rising from almost sea level to 2800 feet (855 meters), the sanctuary covers 64 sq miles (166 sq km). Apart from a few elephants and tigers, there are also sambar, mouse deer and fascinating range of birds. Best time to visit: Dec. — Feb. Accommodation: 4 resthouses Permission: Chief Wildlife Warden, Baisipalli Sanctuary, Nayagarh Forest Division. PO Nayagarh, Dist: Puri Dist, Orissa. Nearest town: Nayagarh (37 miles/60 km) Rail: Khurda (50 miles/80 km) Air: Bhubaneshwar (93 miles/150 km)
Established only in 1984, this coastal sanctuary covering 28 sq miles (72 sq km) protects the shoreline nesting sites of the olive ridley and green sea turtle. On land are groups of blackbuck. Best time to visit: Oct. — May Accommodation: 8 resthouses Permission: DFO, Puri F rest Division, PO Khurda, Dist: Puri, Orissa. Nearest town & Rail: Puri (6 miles/10 km) Air: Bhubaneshwar (44 miles/70 km)
Established in 1975, this marine sanctuary in the estuary of the Brahmani river covers 250 sq miles (650 sq km). Extensive birdlife, estuarine crocodiles and sea turtles are the attractions. Best time to visit: Oct. — May. Accommodation: 3 resthouses Permission: DFO, Chandabali, Dist: Baleshwar, Orissa. Nearest town: Chandabali (22 miles/35 km) Rail: Bhadrakh (48 miles/77 km) Air: Bhubaneshwar (118 miles/190 km)
Established in 1973 over 345 sq miles (900 sq km) of lake, shore and hinterland. The lagoon covers 425 sq miles (1100 sq km) of shallow water separated from the Bay of Bengal by a narrow sand bar. White chital and blackbuck are seen on the scrubby shoreline, it is the extensive birdlife that makes the area important. The migratory birds arrive in early winter and stay till March. Also seen are resident shore birds and birds of prey. Dolphins are occasionally sighted near the mouth of the lagoon. Boats can be hired at Rambha. Best time to visit: Dec. — Mar. Accommodation: tourist lodges at Barkul, Rambha and Balugaon Permission: DFO, Ghunar South, PO Khurda, Dist: Puri, Orissa. Air: Bhubaneshwar (62 miles/100 km)
Nandankanan Sanctuary and Biological Park
Only 8 miles (13 km) from Bhubaneshwar , this small sanctuary, established in 1979, is in fact a modern zoological park. The species shown in varying habitats give a good introduction to the range and diversity of India’s fauna. Best time to visit: Nov. — Feb. (open throughout the year) Accommodation: hotel and tourist lodge Permission: Wildlife Conservation Officer, 145 Sahid Nagar, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa 751007. Nearest town, Rail & Air: Bhubaneshwar
Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary
Established in 1976 and including a 14-mile (22-km) long gorge where the Mahanadi river cuts through the Eastern Ghats, the total sanctuary area is 306 sq miles (796 sq km). Although established to protect crocodile habitat and support projects for the gharial, the surrounding forests also have leopard, the occasional tiger, wolf and sambar. Best time to visit: Nov. — May. Accommodation: resthouses Permission: DFO, Satkosia WL Conservation Division, PO Angul, Dist: Dhenkanal, Orissa 759122 Nearest town: Angul (36 miles/58 km) Rail: Talche (47 miles/76 km) Air: Bhubaneshwar (138 miles/220 km)
Simlipal National Park
Tiger Reserve and Sanctuary. Previously the hunting preserve of the maharajas of Mayurbhanj, the forests of north Orissa are among the most attractive in India. The area was declared a sanctuary in 1957 and the core became a national park in 1980. The total area is 1059 sq miles (2750 sq km), of which the park is only 117 sq miles (303 sq km). One of the first sanctuaries under Project Tiger. The park has 12 rivers cutting across it and on many there are waterfalls. The largely sal forest is broken up by clearings and green grasslands along the rivers. Many of the rivers have mugger crocodiles. Mammals include tiger, elephant, gaur, leopard, chital, mouse deer, sambar and pangolin. The birdlife is extensive and varied, with the singing hill myna being among the more noticeable. Jeeps are available. Best time to visit: Feb. — June Accommodation: forest resthouses Permission: Field Director, Simplipal Tiger Reserve, PO Khairic-Jashipur, Dist: Mayurbhanj, Orissa. Nearest town: Baripada (31 miles/50 km) Rail & Air: Jamshedpur (87 miles/140 km), Bhubaneshwar (217 miles/350 km); Calcutta (150 miles/240 km).
Established in 1962, this sanctuary of 110 sq miles (285 sq km) is of mixed deciduous forest. Tiger, elephant, sambar, chital and gaur are found but are usually seen only on night drives. The sanctuary is to the east of the Girakud Reservoir into which the area drains. Best time to visit: Oct. — May Accommodation: resthouses, bungalow Permission: DFO, Ushakothi Sanctuary, PO Bamra, Sambalpur Dist., Orissa Nearest town & Rail: Sambalpur (22 miles) Air: Bhubaneshwar (186 miles/300 km) Among the many other excellent sanctuaries in Orissa are Chandaka Dampadu (Puri dist.), Debrigarh (Sambalpur dist.), Hadgarh (Mayurbhanj dist.), Khalasoni (Sambalpur dist.), Kotgarh (Phulbani dist.), Kuldiha (Baleshwar dist.), and Sunabeda (Kalahandi dist.). Obtain information from the Chief Wildlife Warden in Bhubaneshwar, Govt. of Orissa Tourist Office, Tourist Bungalow. Bhubaneshwar 751006, (Tel: 50099).