If you are thinking about the endangered estuarian or salt water crocodiles- think no further than Bhitarkanika. The park boasts of one of the largest population of this endangered species and the most interesting part being most of the adults found in the national park are over 5 meters in length.(i.e. around 17 ft) which is rare. There are 3-4 crocodiles which are over 6 meters (i.e over 20 ft). The best part is one can spot them easily either basking in the sun or leisurely swimming around.
The Bhitarkanika National Park is one of the two wildlife sanctuaries in the state to be declared as National Park, the other being Simlipal Tiger Reserve, Its also part of the Ramsar Convention. The National park is spread over 145 Sq KM and is carved out of the Bhitarkanika Sanctuary which is spread over 650 Sq KM. The Bhitarkanika Sanctuary comprises of the Bhitarkanika National park, Gahirmatha Sanctuary and the Marine Sanctuary.
Gahirmatha- the world's largest breeding ground for Olive Ridley's is out of bounds of the tourists and entry is granted only for research and study purposes. Here we discuss about the Bhitarkanika National Park . The wet land is fed by the rivers, Brahmani,Baitarani, and other smaller rivers like Dhamra, Pathsala . It is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India after the Suderban's, there are fifty five species of Mangroves found in the sanctuary. The National park is bound on the east by the Bay of Bengal and the rivers Brahmani and Baitarani in the North and the land mass of the Sanctuary on the other sides.
Though the estuarian croc's are the star of the National Park, the park boasts of an array of other species birds and animals- its one of the few destinations in the world where you can find eight varieties of Kingfisher birds- among the eight- the White Breasted Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Black Capped Kingfisher, Brown Winged Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher are common sightings, the Ruddy Kingfisher and Stork Billed Kingfisher are rare sightings. Apart from the Kingfishers, the place is home to a variety of avian species like the white bellied eagle,Asian Open Billed Stork, varieties of Ibis,Horn Bill, Brahminy ducks,varieties of Woodpeckers, to name a few. The National park also boasts of an impressive array of animals like the Monitor Lizards, Snakes, Jackals, Leopard Cat, Wild Boar,Porcupine's, Spotted Deer, Sambhar etc.
Things to do
Bhitarkanika has a lot to offer for tourists. The Dangmal forest block houses the Estuarine Crocodile Captive Breeding Research Centre- the star of the centre is Gori- an albino estuarine crocodile. Besides the research centre there is a small museum where the preserved specimen of a 6 meter long Crocodile is kept apart from other wildlife. specimens found in the area. Apart from these, one can spot the chitals and jungle fowls grazing around the forest.
The boat ride is a must, if one wants to see the crocodiles and the numerous wildlife and experience the nature's beauty that the National park encompasses. An early morning start is highly recommended for the same. The duration of the boat ride is approximately 4 hours , while the avian and land animals take centre stage during the onward journey, the crocodile's and other reptiles makes their appearance during the return journey. The boat ride has a couple of stop overs- allowing an individual to soak in the wilderness and experience nature from close quarters- the stop over's are as listed below.
Bhitarkanika Forest Block-The Sanctuary was the royal hunting ground of the erstwhile king's of Kendrapada - known as the Kanika Raja by the locals. The boat ride through the park stops over the sanctuary, where one can find man made water pools, hunting towers and old temples midst of the mangrove forests.
During the winters, it is home to migratory birds, the watch tower located midst the sanctuary offers a panoramic view of the birds going over their chores ion their natural habitat.
Tourists have the option of staying in Chandbali which is 84 KM from Bhitarkanika. The OTDC Panthanivas offers a decent option for tourists. One can book online the details are as mentioned below.
Odisha Eco Tourism offers accommodation at Dangmal, Gupti and Habalikhati.
For booking and tariff’s log onto the website –www.ecotourodisha.com– click on Bhitarkanika.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org / Mgrkl.email@example.com
(M) - +91-7539821046 / +91- 9437279340
Apart from the Government properties there are a couple of Private properties in the region.
Sand & Pebbles- They provide Swiss tents located approximately 9KM from the Dangmal. The tents are neat and comfortable and have attached toilets.
SAND PEBBLES BHITARKANIKA JUNGLE RESORTS
M5 / 17, Acharya Vihar,
Tel: +91-674 6007777, 6574661, 6017777
WhatsApp us on: +91 8018894444, 8018893333
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com
The other private property in the area is the Estuarin Village Resort
Website-www.villageresort.in - click on Bhitarkanika
Address :- Central Business Services, Room No. 5,
26 Chittaranjan Avenue,3rd Floor, Kolkata – 700012 (Landmark:- Next to Khadi Gramodyog)
Phone :- 91-9163580464
Email:- firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Entry points are at Khola and Gupti
National Park Timings -
In time - 7.00 am
Out Time- 5pm
For Tourism related issues mail to - firstname.lastname@example.org
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Bhitarkanika National Park, Rajnagar -06729-242460, Fax- 06729-242464
The park is closed from 1st May to 31st July- as this is the breeding season of the crocodiles.
Indians – Rs. 20/- per person
Indians (for a group of 10 members) – Rs. 10/- per person
Students – Rs. 10/- per person
Students (for a group of 10 members) – Rs. 5/- per person
Scientific Researcher (Indians) – Rs. 20/- per person
Foreigners – Rs. 1000/- per person
Foreigners (for a group of 10 members) – Rs. 200/- per person
Scientific Researcher (Foreigners) – Rs. 20/- per person
Boating charges is approximately around Rs.3500 for a group of 4 persons. Check with the Forest Officials or the Tour Operators before booking.