Welcome to Bhitarkanika National Park, India’s own live Jurassic Park and ‘Mini Amazon’. Here lives Kalia, a 23-foot saltwater crocodile. Guinness World Records has listed it as the largest in the world.
Bhitarkanika National Park is India’s second largest mangrove forest. In addition to that it is home to the rare white crocodiles. Also it is the world’s largest nesting ground for Olive Ridley turtles.
Bhitarkanika is one of the richest wild life sanctuaries in India in terms of biological diversity. It is located in Kendrapara district of Orissa. This beautiful place is a matchless territory of nature’s beauty. Furthermore this mangrove forest is second only to the Sunderbans. Most of all, the wetland is situated at the estuary of four rivers – Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra & Mahanadi.
Bhitarkanika National Park is spread over 672 square kilometer. The core area of 145 square kilometer. The entire wetland is actually 3 protected areas – The Bhitarkanika National Park, The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and The Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary. The Gahirmatha beach and Marine Sanctuary is in the east between the swamp and the Bay of Bengal.
Tourists, scientists, explorers and bird watchers love to visit this peninsula. Various kinds of mammals, reptiles, birds and fishes live here. You could glimpse the leopard cat, fishing cat and hyena among the predators. The dense forest is also a habitat for wild boar, rhesus monkeys, porcupine, spotted deer and sambar.
Finally you will also see the terror of the waters, the fearsome salt water crocodiles. More than 1600 salties live there. One can see reptiles like python, king cobra and water monitor lizards frequently. If you are lucky you can also spot the rare white crocodile.
You can see innumerable birds in this sanctuary. This place turns into an absolute paradise when huge numbers of migratory birds come here during winter. The two spots Bagagahana and Saribana are famous as the Ornithologist’s Paradise.
Most of all you may get lucky to spot a Gangetic dolphin. In conclusion Bhitarkanika is a must visit for travellers, adventurers, explorers and photographers.
How to go
- The nearest airport is Bhubaneshwar.
- If you start from Bhubaneshwar it is about 160 km by road. It will be 140 km from Cuttack.
- Bhadrak is the nearest railway station 80 km away.
- There are two places to enter into the national park. One is the Khola Gate and another is Gupti Gate. There you have to take permit to enter Bhitarkanika National Park. You can also get permission for Bhitarkanika National Park from Division Forest Officer at Rajnagar or Assistant Conservator of Forest at Chandbali.
- Bus services are also available till Chandbali and Rajnagar. From there you can also hire a boat till Gupti or upto Dangmal. Dangmal is the most important point in the park and all the tourism and administrative activities take place there.
- Since there no roads to enter Bhitarkanika National Park, you have to go in through waterway. Thus you have to hire a boat with a guide for that.
- The best time to go is October to June. Summers can be a bit humid but you can visit the park up to the month of May. Avoid rainy season from mid June to September.
- Chandabali is the nearest town to Bhitarkanika and is located 35 km away.
- The largest crocodiles live at the Mahismada creek so surely visit the spot.
Where to stay
There are presently two staying options in the Bhitarkanika National Park. The Swiss cottages are in the park and the Forest Rest House is near Dangamal. More resorts are being developed. Recently Orissa government has started some eco-friendly projects for the tourists.
You can enter the Bhitarkanika National Park between 7 am to 2 pm and have to be out by 5 pm. In addition, carry your ID proof all the time.
Image credits: mybhubaneswar.com/bhitarkanika-park, bhitarkanikanationalpark.com, mybhubaneswar.com, orissatourism.org, lookatodisha.com, industrialtour.com