If you are looking for an offbeat destination, try Lulung in Odisha. Just outside the Simlipal National Park, Lulung is a pretty little picnic spot. A charming guest house by the name of Aranya Nivas rests beside a stream-let of the Palpala River.
Lulung is situated at the eastern side of the Simlipal Forest and also is an entry point. While most tourists would prefer to stay at the Simlipal Nature Camps inside the National Park, many would chose Lulung.
Lulung has a beautiful climate, even cool and pleasant at summers. It stands at an elevation of 300 metres above the sea level and is part of the striking Chotanagpur plateau. It also means being blessed with hills, streams and picturesque deciduous trees. The soil is reddish and filled with sal and mahua trees.
At Lulung, feel free to roam around the streams and the jungle trails. You will see a lot of birds and smaller wildlife. Chances are that you may also come across jackals and deer.
Spend a lazy day frolicking in the stream waters. Tourists also collect the rocks at the stream which are popular for its beautiful shape and shine.
Aranya Nivas, the guest house by OTDC (Odisha Tourism Development Corporation) is also called as the OTDC Lulung. It has been made beside the gurgling stream that is a part of the Palpala River. The natural beauty of the area around the river also attracts many tourists in the winter season. However Lulung can be visited anytime around the year but the Simlipal National park remains open to tourists between November 1 to June 15.
Aranya Nivas has attractive concrete cottages. These cottages sit in the midst of a beautiful garden and a green lawn. Each cottage is nicely built with a balcony to enjoy nature. In the evenings, you can sip on to hot tea and listen to the hundreds of bird calls.
There is a separate dining hall. Food served here is delicious local cuisine. However variations are less as it serves merely as a canteen and not as a restaurant. Overall food quality is quite good.
Lights used in Aranya Nivas are eco-friendly and solar. The area around Aranya Nivas is the perimeter of the Simlipal National Park, India’s second biggest forest. Many rivers course through this forest and Lulung area like the Khairi, Budhabalanga and Palpalla.
You can walk around the forest trails that are the paths to the villages. Meghasani peak and Khairiburu peaks adorn the horizons at Lulung. A few kilometres away is the Kalipahar with its beautiful waterfall. The area of Simlipal is dotted with many smaller and also gigantic waterfalls like the Barehpani and Joranda. Nearby is Deokund, which is popular for its beautiful waterfall and picnic spot.
If you like archaeology, visit the villages of Kuchai and Kuliana. Both these spots have remains of ancient days. Excavations have been made which show evidence of Neolithic and Paleolithic Age.
You can also visit the Sulaipat Dam. Built on the Kharkhai River it is a popular attraction for the tourists.
There are advantages of staying at Lulung. It is easier to get accommodation at Lulung than of the Simlipal Nature Camps. Rates are also lower and start at around Rs. 850 per night for double bed Non A/C (applicable to change). Since Lulung is outside the National Park’s area, you do not need to pay extra charge for entering and staying here. In fact as Lulung is at the entry point, tickets for entering the forest can be easily obtained. Generally entry tickets are issued early in the morning. Lulung is kind of a midway zone where you can enjoy the forest without its restrictions as well as free to explore the nearby town life.
Aranya Nivas has double beds and dormitories for the tourists. The total accommodation is 40 beds. Booking has to be done beforehand. For accommodation you can contact the Tourist Office at Baripada at phone: (06792) 52710. For more details and booking check: www.otdc.in
You can also prefer to stay at private hotels near Baripada and surrounding area. But Aranya Nivas is the ideal place for the traveller to stay in terms of location and facilities.
Related: See the magical blackbucks in Odisha
How To Reach Lulung From Kolkata
The nearest airports are at Bhubaneshwar and Kolkata.
Balasore is well connected by trains and by road from these cities. It is about 3 kilometre away from Pithabata. From Bhubaneshwar it takes around 3 to 3.5 hours to reach Balasore. From Kolkata, you will get a train to Balasore from the Sealdah station. It will take around 4 hours. From Balasore, one can take a bus or a rented car. It is 78 km from Balasore if you travel by NH 18. It would take about of 45 minutes, more or less.
From Kolkata, one can also come to Baripada by train or bus. It will take about seven hours. From Baripada, Lulung is only 20 kilometre away. However bus or car service is lesser here. Ask your guest house to arrange for a pick up or arrange a transport beforehand.
You can also drive from Kolkata. It would be about 330 km and would approximately be an 8-hour drive including food breaks. The roads in Odisha are quite well maintained. After entering the Mayurbhanj district, the forests on both sides of the road make a charming drive. Rows of sal and deodar trees make it a charming way. If you have an SUV, then with prior permission you can also take it inside the Simlipal Forest.
What to do in Lulung
You can ask a local guide to show you around the jungle area. You can trek the hills and visit the forests. There are many beautiful place for sightseeing.
You can also go for a safari inside Simlipal Forest. The forest is well known for its wildlife. It is home to 99 Royal Bengal tigers and more than 4,000 elephants. The forest is full of leopards, sloth bear, jackals, wild boars and hundreds of other species. The Forest Department runs safaris and nature camps inside Simlipal.
Related: What to do and not to do in a safari
Image credits: Offbeat Tour, HolidayIQ