Mayurbhanj district is the home of one of the most important
National Parks not only in Orissa but also in the
country. Spread over an area of 2,750-sq-km, the park was specially chosen
by Project Tiger for continuing the onerous task of conserving the
country's deteriorating tiger population.
THE RICH WILD FAUNA
One of India's tiger reserves, Similipal has over more than 95 tigers within the lavish bounds of the sanctuary. Leopards, elephants, mugger crocodiles and numerous reptiles abound here. Other fauna include the wild dog, Wolf, striped-necked mongoose, honey badger, small Indian otter, sloth bear, barking deer, gaur, wild boar, pangolin, rhesus macaque, Hanuman langur, common giant flying squirrel and porcupine.
Because of the wide variety in the habitats the fauna composition of the reserve is also varied and rich, 231 species of birds have been identified, out of which red jungle fowl, Hill Myna, Peafowl, Alexandrine Parakeet, Crested Serpent Eagle are common. The Grey Hornbill, Indian Pied Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Trogon also occur in the reserve.
Reptilian fauna include the Indian pond terrapin, Indian flap shell turtle, Indian tent turtle, banded rock gecko, forest calotes, snake skink, common skink, large Bengal monitor lizard, Indian Python, common krait, banded krait, spectacled cobra, monocled cobra, king cobra and bamboo pit viper.
A TREASURE OF NATURAL SPLENDOURS
The vast expanse and changing topography and the vegetation and climatic variations in Similipal has been one of the major reasons for the successful breeding of the flora and fauna.
Similipal offers an excellent exposure to the delights not only of its wildlife, but also of its wonderful natural beauty. Scenic beauty of the lush forests and mountains and valleys is as extravagant as it is varied.
The park is a treasure house of 501 species of plants belonging to 102 families. 82 species of orchids have also been identified here. It has a mixed type of vegetation with Northern tropical semi-evergreen trees and Northern tropical moist deciduous trees. Plus, dry deciduous hill forest and high-level Sal forests.
The grasslands and the savannas provide grazing grounds for the herbivores and hiding place to the carnivores. The forest boasts of innumerable medicinal and aromatic plants, which provide a source of earnings for the tribals.
A traditional inhabitant of the perennial streams in Similipal, the mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) was almost extinct by 1979. A captive management programme for the species was started at Ramatirtha on the banks of river Khairi-Bhandan near Jashipur.
Young crocodiles have been rehabilitated in the streams inside the reserve. The species has revived back. Ramatirtha mugger rearing centre draws visitors round the year.
Athardeuli, the site of 18 temples stands near Bakua in central Similipal as mute testimony to the past glory of Bathudi Tribals. Now overgrown with jungle and appropriated by the resident male tiger, every year, on Makar Sankranti Day (14th January), tribals from all-round the hills gather here to offer prayers to their clan Gods.
ATTRACTIONS WITHIN THE SANCTUARY
The best way to see as much as possible would be to take a package tour which could take in the Barehipani waterfall (399m) and the Joranda falls (150m), the lush grasslands of Bachhuri Chara, the Meghasani Peak (1,158m) and the wildlife in the environs.
Jashipur, one of the two entry points to the park, has a crocodile sanctuary, the other being Lulung. Khiching and Haripur are two ancient places with unique temple architecture. Haripur is 16-km and Khiching is 149-km from Baripada.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The reserve is open to tourists from 10th November to 15th June in every season. Jashipur on N.H. No. 6 (94-km) and Lulung, 25-km from Baripada on N.H. No. 5 are two entry points to Similipal. Regular bus services from Bhubaneswar, Calcutta, Tata and other important places of the state connect both Baripada and Jashipur. Tourists are advised to hire four-wheeled Jeeps for movement inside the park.
HOW TO GET THERE
Bhubaneswar Airport is situated 270-km from the national park. Other airports include Baripada, 330-km and Jashipur Calcutta Airport, 320-km. Baripada is located around 100-km from Jashipur.
Balasore railhead is situated 56-km from Baripada and Tata railhead is 115-km from Jashipur.
Daytime as well as overnight buses are available in for Baripada and Jashipur from Calcutta, Bhubaneswar and Tata.
WHERE TO STAY
Private lodging and hired vehicles are available at Baripada and Jashipur.
HOTELS & FOREST BUNGALOWS
Forest Bungalows at Barehipani, Chahala, Joranda and Nawana
Binod Bhawan, Baripada
Ganesh Bhawan, Baripada
Hotel Ambika, Baripada
Hotel Durga, Baripada
Hotel Bishram, Baripada
Hotel Siddharth, Baripada
FOR MORE TOURIST INFORMATION:
Tourist Office, Baripada-757001, District Mayurbhanj, Tel: 52710,Gram:ORISSATOUR.
For Entry Permits:
Contact - Assistant Conservator of Forests, National Park Jashipur-757091 and Range officer, Pithabata Check-Gate.