Located 190 KM from Bhubaneswar and 50 Km from Berhampur. The place is famous for black bucks- It’s said that Bhetanai has the highest concentration of the species per Sq.KM in India. There are approximately 1600 of them and they roam around freely in the grasslands located on the foothills of the Eastern Ghats. The Black bucks are considered as the second fastest animal on earth after the Cheetah. The Black bucks are endangered species and are protected animals under the wildlife protection act of 1972.
Locally known as Bali Harina or Krishnasara (literally meaning black deer,since lord Krishna was dark yet beautiful, the connotation is associated with the magnificent black bucks). The Black bucks of Bhetanai are considered sacred the villagers much like their counterparts in Bisnoi (Rajasthan). The villagers of Bhetanai worship the animals as harbingers of prosperity. There is a story which is associated with the Black Bucks, when Odisha was reeling under the famine probably referring to the great famine which shook Odisha in 1866 , a herd of black bucks came to Ganjam and their arrival brought the much needed rains. Since then they are protected by the villagers. Once a king shot a black buck, the villagers got together and tied the king and walked him through the village.
The area practically has no forest cover save for some bushes here and there, the black bucks survive on agricultural crop, villagers say the black bucks destroy up to 30% of the crops annually but no one minds it.
Located just 15 KM apart from Bhetanai, located on the foothills of the Pakidi Forest Range- is a peacock range. The National bird can be found in large numbers in the area. Besides Peacock’s the forest is home to spotted deer, sambhar etc and is an elephant corridor.
Where to Stay
Bhetanai doesn’t have options for night stay. The Odisha ecotourism guest house at Chermaria on the foothills of the Pakidi range has two rooms with basic facilities can be an option for a small group. The guest house is just 15 KM from Bhetanai.
For booking the ecotourism guest house at Chermaria log onto – www.ecotourodisha.com – click on Chermaria Nature Camp
Email – email@example.com / Mgrkl.firstname.lastname@example.org
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Tourist you would be best advised to combine Mangalajodi and Bhetanai. Bhetanai is around 115 KM from Mangalajodi. If you book a cab or your own car, both the destinations can be covered in a day, provided one reaches Mangalajodi early in the morning.
The cab from Mangalajodi to Bhetanai would cost approximately between Rs.2000-Rs.2200/-
In case one wants to stay in Chermaria, the Google map doesn’t recognize Chermaria but instead fix your destination as Pakidi Hill. The eco tour guest house is located bang on the foothills of Pakidi Hill. The Chermaria guest house is just on the state highway road opposite the Chermaria village, so don’t get confused by the village sign board “Chermaria”.
The Chermaria eco tour cottages have two rooms at the moment and there are provisions to extend it up to 8 rooms. The newly built rooms are comfortable and clean, so it’s good for a group of four to five people.
The staff at Chermaria nature camp are helpful and the food is very basic.
If you are staying in Chermaria, don’t forget to get a print out of the booking confirmation, otherwise one has to go to Aska to get the same and hand it to the staff at the time of checking out. Direction to Chermaria eco tour cottages – Khallikote- Aska- from Aska travel to the Berhampur route for 6 KM’s, the cottages are on the state highway just after the Forest Range Office barrier.
The best time to spot the black bucks is the morning and noon time. During July to November end they are visible in large numbers in Bhetanai along the foothills of Gadgadia Forest range. During the winters i.e. December onward most of them move two kilometers ahead to a village Kanchan Devi.
Pakidi Hills is famous for its large population of peacocks which are easily visible.
Aska the nearest town which is located just 15 KM from Bhetanai. There are lodges available in the town.One can find ATM’s, Medicine shops and Petrol Pump at Aska.
Alternatively once can opt to stay at Berhampur which is 50 KM from Bhetanai. Berhampur is a major city and one can find better options as far as hotels and services are concerned.
Berhampur has regular bus services to Aska as well as Bhetanai. The nearest railway station is Berhampur and the nearest airport is Bhubaneswar.
Card payment facilities aren’t available; make sure you carry enough cash for the tour.
Bhetanai being an eco sensitive zone, tourist are advised to be sensitive towards the environment and refrain from littering the place with plastic or any other ecologically hazardous substance.