Odisha has a number of wildlife destinations that attract tourists from all over the world. This state in India has a diverse topography and it offers virgin beaches, world heritage sites, sand festivals, tribal festivals, ancient temples, historical remains, jungles, hills, waterfalls and much more. The wildlife destinations in Odisha are nevertheless attractive and if you are planning for a wildlife trip in India, then take the road less taken and include Odisha in your bucket list now. Here is a list of the popular wildlife destinations in Odisha.
1. Similipal National Park
Also known as Similipal Tiger Reserve, this wildlife destination of Odisha is the biggest national park of India that attracts a lot of tourists. Previously a hunting area of the royal dynasties, Similipal covers an area of 2570 sq. km and was rendered as a national park in 1957. With dense forests, granite hills, waterfalls, rivers, streams, Similipal is one of the most beautiful national parks in India and one of teh most popular wildlife destinations in Odisha. The core area is spread over 845 sq. km of which 300 sq. km is built as the tiger reserve. The park flaunts numerous species of flora. Other than tiger, it is also home to elephant, leopard, hyena, bear, fox, antelope, various other kinds of deer, and about 231 species of birds.
2. Belghar Wildlife Sanctuary
Surrounded with hills, dense forests and tribal habitation, Belghar Wildlife Sanctuary is mainly home to tuskers. The forests are so dense that sunlight occasionally reaches the ground. Spotting groups of elephants crossing streams and rivers, playing around in water are the main attraction of this wildlife sanctuary in the midst of mindboggling wilderness.
3. Kuldiha Sanctuary
Another beautiful wildlife attraction of Odisha, Kuldiha has an elephant sanctuary and other animals that can be spotted include deer, wild cat, various kinds of monkeys and birds. Adventure lovers can also go trekking up the hills hiring guides.
4. Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary
Accredited as a Tiger Reserve in 2007, Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary was recognized as a wildlife sanctuary in 1976. Spreading over an area of 796 sq. km, it has dense forests of teak, Sal, Asana (Terminalia elliptica) and various other trees and also hosts more than 400 species of plantations. This forest is home to elephant, tiger, leopard, sambar deer, spotted deer, four horned antelope, barking deer, mouse deer, bison, panther, various other animals, above 161 species of birds and about 183 varieties of fish. There are boating facilities on the Mahanadi river. Crocodiles and alligators are abundant. Camping, watch towers and waterfalls add more to the wild adventure.
Surrounded with blue hills and hillocks, Panchlingeshwar boasts of a beautiful jungle under the blue sky. On full moon night, the dense forests and undulating hillscape look mesmerising. Tigers, elephants and bears are common in this forest. There is also a very sacred temple of Lord Shiva in Panchlingeshwar near Odisha Tourism Rest House.
6. Badrama Wildlife Sanctuary
Located about 38 km from Sambalpur, Badrama was previously known as Ushakoti. Badrama Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 370 sq. km. This dense forest houses tigers, elephants, black panther, bisons, various kinds of deer, Gaur, wild dogs, wild buffaloes, and peafowls. Flying squirrel is a major attraction of this jungle. However, it is better to inquire at the Badrama Forest Range Office before visiting the sanctuary. The entrance permits are also to be obtained from here.
Chilka Lake is the largest salt water lake of Asia and it is also a wildlife sanctuary. The lake spread over the vicinities of Puri and Ganjam district of Odisha has a number of islands scattered across the water and each of them is home to various kinds of avifauna and animals. Chilka Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for migratory birds during the winter months and attracts bird lovers and ornithologists from across the world. Among the various species of birds, flamingo, jacana, white bellied sea eagles, graylag geese, purple moorhen and herons are rampant. This lake is also one of the biggest breeding places of flamingos in the world. The best spots for bird watching in Chilka are Bird Island, Monglajodi and Nalban.
Apart from birds, this sanctuary is also home to blackbuck, golden jackals, hyenas, spotted deer, elephants and marine wildlife including Irawadi dolphin, limbless lizard, crabs, prawns and more than 225 species of fish.
SSSSurrounded with dense forests, rivers and streams, this wildlife sanctuary is located at the confluence of Brahmani and Baitarani rivers. With mesmerising mangrove forestation including trees like hetal, sundari, goran, and various kinds of century old trees and medicinal plants, Bhitarkanika sanctuary is a bird’s paradise. Kingfishers, sunbirds, ibis, pelican, snakebird, flamingo, egret are common. Other animals include wild boar, deer, leopard cat, wild cat, fishing cat, hyena and more.
9. Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary
This wildlife sanctuary was founded in 1978 spanning an area of more than 191.6 sq. km. Tigers, leopards. hyena, wolf, monkeys, porcupine and fishing cats are the major attractions of this forest of Sal trees. The Salandi river passes through the area which is again home to Muggar Crocodiles. The presence of wild animals and various species of avifauna make this wildlife sanctuary one of the popular wildlife destinations of Odisha.
Keonjhar is a small village nestled amidst hills and jungles. Habituated by various tribal communities, this place serves a diverse platter to its visitors. Two beautiful waterfalls, Sanghaghra (100 ft) and Badghaghra Falls (200 ft) are also two major attractions apart from spotting wild bears and elephant groups at night. Staying in the middle of the jungle is an adventurous experience in itself.
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Madhurima is a digital marketing specialist, editor and content marketer. She is also a published writer on the web. When she is not working, she is either travelling or writing her travel stories to share to the world. She believes in inspiring people to travel and shares her travel diary on her travel blog, mangoladydiaries.com.