Wouldn’t you wonder in amazement if someone talks about the existence of mini Amazon in our very own country? Yes, you have heard me right. “Mini Amazon” of India does exist in one of the most beautiful states of India, Orissa. Located in the Kendrapara district of the state, Bhittarkanika has many attributes then just being a wildlife sanctuary. It has a vibrant ecosystem embracing a wide variety of flora and fauna.
My visit to this land filled me with awe and admiration towards the natural abundance that we are bestowed upon by the Mother Nature.
It took us about 3 hrs to reach Bhittarkanika (approx.161 km) from Bhubaneswar by car. The road was bumpy in between, however, the journey never felt tiresome as my mind was filled with an exhilaration of experiencing something new.
We drove across some narrow roads and passed by some beautiful village huts on both sides of the road that threw the spell of a gothic journey. It was morning in the month of December and the gloomy weather did make it more mysterious and cagy. Yet, it was one of the best journeys I took up ever since I delved into travelling.
We got off from our car in Khola which is one of the two entry points to the National Park other than Gupti. There are numerous ferry and boat services run by private sectors as well as forest departments to the park. As we boarded our ferry, it took us amidst the river slowly and I could then realize the actual thrill of this trip. On both the sides, there were mangroves all over and I was amazed to know that Bhittarkanika is home to some 70 species of mangroves that is spread across the park. And it did feel as if I was somewhere in Amazon.
As our ferry took us further down, my excitement knew no bounds on spotting the crocodiles which were sunbathing in the river bank. Yes, Bhittarkanika is most famous for its saltwater crocodiles and the white crocodiles and is home to near about 1682 estuarine crocodiles as per the latest count. They were lying silently and one of them gracefully made a move to the water as our ferry passed by with an alarming noise of the engine. I was overwhelmed by these creatures and the beauty across this land.
As we landed in the shore, we were taken to our pre booked camps. I could not imagine anything better way than spending the night in a tent amidst the mystic natural hub of this national park.
Evening we took a walk around the village and the nearby places. At night we were served with mouthwatering Oriya thali. As we retired off to bed, there were chirps of unknown birds and insects and as the night drew deeper, a tranquil silence had grasped the land.
Next morning we took a trek inside the old sanctuary area and spotted some beautiful colorful birds and animals like wild boar and deer. We also took a boat ride and had some spectacular view of the basking crocodiles from a close distance. At one point you really feel the pang as though your boat would be flanked in air by a huge villainous crocodile as pictured in some films or will be chased by one. Whatsoever, it is strictly not advisable to hang around these creatures as you never know an animal instinct. Precaution is of course an important point for your own safety and concern.
Next day after breakfast, we took an excursion trip to Barunei beach and had an awesome time there too. And in the afternoon we trekked amidst the jungle and beside the mangroves in around some swampy land that was really dangerous. The dark green leaves of the jungle made the environment darker and lonesome. The smell of the crisp dry leaves below would transform your journey as you wade amidst the bushes and trees. The feeling is heavenly.
While returning back to Bhubaneswar, I was feeling a sadness enveloping my heart as I had never been so close to nature and its wilderness. Bhittarkanika is a must visit for nature lovers and wild adventurers.
Few things you must know about Bhittarkanika
- Bhittarkanika is a Wildlife Sanctuary, a National Park and a Marine Sanctuary.
- It is the largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
- It is spread across 672 kms.
- It is home to the estuarine crocodile.
- Besides, it is also home to Indian python, Indian Cobra, Chital, Darter, water Lizard etc.
- There are a number of good hotels in Bhittarkanika such as Estuarine Village Resort, Sand pebbles Jungle Resort etc. Camps and tents are also available.
- It is advisable to carry torch and mosquito repellent.
Places of Interest near Bhittarkanika
- While at Bhittarkanika, you may plan an excursion trip to the islands of Habalikothi, Kalibhanjadia and Nalitapatia.
- You must also visit the Gahirmatha Beach which is a very important nesting beach for Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in the world.
How To Reach Bhittarkanika
By Car: Chandibali is the nearest town which is well connected to other parts of Orissa. Bhittarkanika is approx. 161 kms Bhubaneswar.
By railway: Nearest railway is Bhadrak and Cuttak.
By air: Bhubaneswar Airport is the nearest.