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Wildlife in Orissa - A Glimpse into Nature's Heart

     Orissa is a state with some of the best wildlife sanctuaries in India. Over the years, wildlife has become the main tourist attraction in Orissa. With effective conservation policies and unimpaired landscape, the state has been able to preserve the dynamic and fragile ecosystem. Many of the species are rare and endangered which makes visiting these sanctuaries a unique experience. Beside, greenery and natural treasures in and round the parks, is spellbinding. The most celebrated of all is the Chilka Lake which has been designated as a Ramsar site (Wetland of International Importance). Chilka Bird Sanctuary receives around a million migratory birds from all parts of the world during the winter season. It also has rich variety of aquatic life and flora. Nandankanan Wildlife Sanctuary is other park that has received many accolades from tourists and wildlife lovers.

Nandankanan Wildlife Sanctuary

     This is probably the easiest to reach wildlife sanctuary in Orissa. Situated just 13 km from capital city of Bhubaneswar, Nandankanan Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the few where you will find natural enclosures for the animals. The park was established in the year 1979 and is seen as one of the best in India. Nandankanan is the first Wildlife Park in the world where gharials are bred in captivity. Covering an area of 4.4 sq. km, the park has white tigers, gharials, Asiatic lions, Indian Pangolin and mouse deer. You can also enjoy an open lion safari in the park. The park is located on the banks of Kanjia Lake. And Nandankanan experience is incomplete without a boat ride in the lake. The best time to visit the park is between October and March. The park is closed on all Mondays. In summers, the park is open from 7.30 AM to 6 PM whereas in winters timings are from 8.00 AM till 5 PM.

Chilka Bird Sanctuary

    This is without a doubt the most famous wildlife sanctuary in Orissa. Chilka Bird sanctuary is situated on the Nalaban Island in between the Chilka Lake. Not only is it renowned for birds, but it has a rich variety of flora and aquatic-life as well. Chilka Bird Sanctuary receives around a million birds in the winter season. Few of the birds that had migrated here made this their permanent nesting grounds. There are more than 225 species of fishes in the lake. According to a survey, the lake supports around 800 species of fauna in and around Chilka. Many of them are rare and endangered. The most famous among tourists is Irrawady Dolphins. Due to the diverse ecosystem, Chilka Lake has been designated as Ramsar site (Wetland of International Importance). Along with exploring the wildlife, you can also enjoy a soothing boat ride in the lake.

Bhitarakanika Wildlife Sanctuary

      Located in the estuarial region of Brahmani-Baitarani, in the north-eastern place of Kendrapara district of Orissa, the sanctuary covers an area of 672 square kilometers of mangrove forests and wetland. Crossed by a thick network of brooks, with the Bay of Bengal on the east, Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is home to over 215 species of birds, including winter migratory birds from Europe and central-Asia.

Apart from the Mangroves, another rarity that the sanctuary has to its account is the inhibition of its ecosystem by the Giant Salt Water Crocodiles and numerous varieties of other animal species. It is because of these specialties only that a vast expanse of forest around 145 square kilometers has been officially declared as the Bhitarkanika National Park. This park including mangrove forests, creeks, estuaries, rivers, accumulated land, backwater and mud flats is very significant for the ecological, biological and geomorphologic background of Orissa.


Simlipal National Park

      Situated around 320 km from Bhubaneswar in Mayurbhanj District, Simlipal National Park is one of the most important national parks in Orissa. It once used to be the hunting ground for Maharajas of Mayurbhanj. The Park was established as a tiger reserve in the year 1972 and was later recognized as a national park in the year 1979. With numerous rivers, waterfalls and varied flora, Simlipal National Park is an absolute nature's wonder. The animals that you can spot here are tigers, jungle cats, spotted deer, elephants and chinkaras. However the most easily spotted are the crocodiles on the banks of rivers. The park is also home to more than 220 species of birds which will keep enthusiastic bird watchers interested. Simlipal National Park is open to public from November to June. You will need an entry permit for the park, so it is advised that you apply minimum 15 days in advance.

       Orissa is rich in wildlife like many other states of India. But there is something in the sanctuaries of Orissa that attract more tourists to these lands. It is the variety of animals that are found in Orissa. The number of endangered and rare species is also very high. So if you wish to see animals that you have never seen, then visit the many national parks of Orissa.


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