Bhitarkanika Wildlife Reserve & National Park
Rajnagar Tehsil, Kendrapa District, Orissa
Estuarine Crocodile & Pacific Ridley Sea Turtles
Best Time to Visit
Mid-October To Mid-March
It is called 'a slice of paradise on the earth and is one of the best sanctuaries in India .It is situated in the second largest mangrove forest in the country and provides an ideal habitat for reptiles including crocodiles, sea turtles and water monitor Lizards. This sanctuary which is located slightly away from the Gahirmatha Sanctuary, has protected the estuarine crocodile and its habitat since 1975.
This is located at the top of green delta formed by Mahanadi , Bramhani and Baitarani rivers. The picturesque location of this sanctuary, its mangrove forest, numerous varieties of wildlife particularly crocodiles in water, herds of deer on the bank and migrating birds on the sky is really a place of attraction.. It has not only the world's biggest salt water crocodiles but also white crocodiles. The mangrove supports a large variety of bird life such as storks, Egrets , White ibis ,six pieces of Kingfishers, as well as migratory ducks from Siberia and Hungary . This sanctuary can be visited by special permission in order to maintain the Eco-system of the place.
So far 58 species of mangroves have been recorded in India of which 55 are found in Bhitar - kanika. Existence of three species of Rhizophora, Heritiera and Avicennia each and four species of Bruguiera are some of the interesting features of flora of Bhitarkanika. In Bhitarkanika a variety of wild rice grows abundantly in tidal mud flats. Based on the genetic strain of this wild rice, several saline and flood resistant varieties of rice have been developed.
Bhitarkanika harbours one of the largest populations of endangered saltwater crocodile in India and is globally unique in that 10 percent of the adults exceed 6 m length. Nearly 700 saltwater crocodiles inhabit the rivers and creeks. Nearly half a million olive ridley sea turtles on an average, nest every year along the Gahirmatha coast of Bhitarkanika. Besides water monitor, which is common, yellow and common monitors are also sympatric here. The mangrove forests and its adjoining wetlands support large number of resident as well as migratory waterfowl. Of the 174 species of birds, 82 breed here and 57 species winter in Bhitarkanika. The endangered lesser adjutant stork also breeds here.
Bhitarkanika is also home for several mammals. Five species of marine dolphins have been recorded from the area. The common species encountered in this area is the Indo - pacific humpbacked dolphin. Notable among the other mammalian fauna of Bhitarkanika are striped hyaena, fishing cat, jungle cat, smooth - coated otter, civet, Indian porcupine, wild boar, spotted deer and sambar.
Temple Of Nahak Babu
Interestingly here one finds temples, sculptures, mud forts and pattery datable to the 10th-11th century A.D. The temple of "Nahak Babu" is a renovated 'Khakara' temple and enshrines Durga, 'Uma Maheswar' and other sculptures. Another small but compact and
Beautiful temple built in sand stones of rich hue is found closely.
Situated slightly further away is the coastal area of Gahirmatha, where the giant Pacific Ridley Sea Turtles, travelling annually from as far away as South America nest by the millions. Special arrangements were made to ensure their protection as the turtles were preyed upon by the local folk many years ago.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air : The nearest airport is situated at Bhubaneswar .
Rail : The nearest railhead is situated at Cuttack and Bhadrakh.
Road : One can reach the sanctuary from north through Rajnagar via Bhadrakh and from south through Rajnagar via Patamundai, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
Inland Water Transport
Rajnagar to Dongmal -3 hrs.
Gupti to Dangmal - 1 ½ hrs.
Gupti to Ekakula - 3 hrs.
Chandbali to Dangmal - 3 hrs.
Dangmal to Ekakula - 4 hrs.
Chandbali to Kalibhadrain - 2 hrs.
WHERE TO STAY
Accomodation can be availed by obtaining prior reservation from the Divisional Officer, Rajnagar
for the following places :
Forest Rest Houses & Tourist Cottages
Forest Rest House at Dangmal
Forest Rest House at Ekakula
Forest Rest Shed at Gupti
Dormitory at Dangmal
Tourist Cottage at Ekakula
Log Cabin on sea at Habalakhati