Considered to be one of the most impressive national parks of Asia, Bhitarkanika National Park is spread over 672 sq km in Keonjhar district of Odisha (Orissa). Surrounded by the Bhitarkanika Sanctuary and shares borders with the Gahirmatha Beach, the national park consists of estuaries, backwaters, creeks and the Brahmani-Baitrani Delta. The national park is about 123 km east of Cuttack and 145 km northeast of Bhubaneshwar. The core area of the sanctuary was declared a national park in 1998.
Mangroves dominate the ecosystem of the national park and the Bhitarkanika National Park boasts of the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India. Sunderbans in West Bengal has the largest mangrove ecosystem. Spread all over the park, the mangroves can be seen not only in the swamps and marshy areas but also in the dry areas.
The national park is the habitat of 215 species of birds which includes eight different species of Kingfishers. The most commonly seen birds in the national park are egrets, black ibis, darters, cormorants and asian open bill. Bhitarkanika National Park is a well known name abroad as well because of the closely monitored population of saltwater crocodiles.
The saltwater beasts number over 700 and can be found in the swamps, rivers and creeks of the national park. The national park is also home to the rare white crocodiles, cobras, pythons, rhesus monkeys, chitals, monitor lizards and wild boars.
At the south end of the national park is the Gahirmatha Beach which is the lone mass nesting spot in Indian Ocean region and the only turtle sanctuary in Odisha (Orissa). The beach is a UNESCO listed heritage site.
Croc spotting is the most popular tourist activity in Bhitarkanika and they can be found on a ride from Khola to Dangmal. You can try your hand at Angling; indulge in photography and bird watching during your stay in Bhitarkanika National Park.
Khola and Gupti are the two main entry points to the park. Prior permission is needed to from the Forest Check Gate to enter the national park via waterways.
There are fully furnished tents for accommodation in the national park. The tents have decent facilities.It is best to carry food and water while visiting the national park as only stalls can be found inside the park. The stalls too offer only snacks and refreshments.
In and Around
Major Attractions of Animal World are
22-feet Crocodile ( Gauri ), Basking Crocodiles on Mud flat, Spotted Deer, Monitor Lizard, King Cobra & Pythons, Wild Pigs.
Major Attractions of Bird World are
170 species of birds, 08 magnificient sub-species of Kingfishres, Open Billed Stork, Sea Eagles, Kites, Sand Pipers, Darters, Whistling Teals & Sea Gulls especially at the BAGA GAHANA in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sancturary.
The boat ride from Khola to Dangmal or vice versa is highly recommended. Khola is one of the gateways into the park. This is along an artificial creek and it passes through dense mangrove forest providing a glimpse into the estuarine ecosystem and its wealth of fauna. The best time to travel through this creek is early morning or before sunset.
Bhitarkanika has a very rich historical and cultural past. It used to be the hunting grounds of the erstwhile King of Kanika . The hunting towers and artificial watering holes can be seen at many places including Bhitarkanika trail and at Dangmal. It is also the home of medieval Hindu temples which can be found dotted throughout the sanctuary. But the major attraction remains the wildlife wealth.
Places Around Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary
The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is surrounded by beaches, brooks, islands, rivers and canals making it an ideal location for vacation. The tourists after being welcomed by the incredible avifauna, reptile and mammal population of the sanctuary, there are the Mangroves ready to teach them to be adaptive, the best way to accept the challenges of life and if this area of 625 kms with 215 avian and further more population of flora and fauna was not enough to amaze you, then in and around the serenity of Bhitarkanika has much more to offer you, to quench your thirst for adventure, to make you feel contended.
Garhimata National Park/Beach
Your search for that perfect romantic spot ends here. The beautiful Garhimata Beach is the perfect destination for the couples and honeymooners searching for notable places to visit in & around Bhitarkanika. The beach becomes further thrilling between the months of January and March when the Olive Ridley Turtles which has been visiting the beach for ages, come to lay their eggs. It has now been declared as a national park to save these endangered species.
The ancient Shiva Temple near Bhitarkanika has been the place of attraction for visitors form long. It has now been renovated which has enhanced the beauty of this ancient monument.
Kanika King Palace
The palace of the earlier rulers of Bhitarkanika has now been developed as a tourist place.
Silted Lotus Pond
The national flower of India blossoms in many colors in the silted pond near Bhitarkanika. This unique garden for the lotus presents a mesmerizing experience for the city dwellers.
Bhitarkanika was once the hunting ground for the Zamindar family of Raj Kanika. The tower is the erstwhile shooting location for the hunters of the family.
This watch tower has been constructed to keep an eye on the meadows of Bhitarkanika. The villagers save their gazing cattle form the predators by keeping an eye from this tower.
Simlipal National Park
Simlipal national park is the natural habitat for the tigers and is a crucial part of the project tiger campaign. Crocodiles, Sloth bear, leopards, elephants, wolves and wild boars are the other attractions of this national park. Unlike Bhitarkanika, Sal trees dominate Simlipal and are a playground for twelve rivers. The picturesque falls of Joranda and Barehipani further beautifies the region.
Nandankanan National Park
The Nandankanan National Park is the breeding location for many endangered species including the Asiatic and Sangal lions, Nilgiri langurs, Indian crocodiles, tailed macaque, several avian and mammals. The national park got international acclaim for its contribution towards the growth of the white tiger population, which is one of the rarest species in the world and was on the verge of extinction. The Nandankanan zoo has been instrumental for the successful mating of these aristocratic creatures and their number today has increased to 34.
The abode of the Buddhist remains, Pushpagiri is an awing place for a visit. While the stupas and monuments exemplify the Buddhist culture the scenic beauty will surely hold your breath. So save your days to visit the prominent place in Odisha and make your tour counted.
In proximity of your staying destination are the famous monuments of Udayagiri that are dated back to the Buddhist era. The prominent region of the Buddhist region, Udayagiri has immense religious values. To make your tour a more pleasing one, Udayagiri is home to numerous local places of historical eminence.
Once a mahavihara site, the region has an array of Buddhist remains in the state. Along with Lalitgiri and Udayagiri, the region was once part of the Pushpagiri University. Located close to the Bhitarkanika National Park, the visitors can also visit the Ratnagiri Archeological Museum and get in touch with the historical facts and data.
A famous Buddhist complex, Lalitgiri is home to major monasteries and stupas. A notable excavation site since 1985, the place is of utmost importance in the eyes of the A.S.I.(Archaeological Survey of India). For public exhibit, the unearthed relic caskets along with other archaeological discoveries. So if you want to give a historical turn to your visit then don’t forget to be at Lalitgiri.
Home to the famous Lord Jagannath Temple, Puri is the one of the four main Holy centers (Dhamas) of the country and its natives. Located on the Bay of Bengal, the city is also the hub to some renowned temples such as Gundhicha Ghar Temple, Loknath Temple, Sakshigopal Temple to name a few. The notable Rath-Yatra in Puri will surely complete your tour followed by a visit to the Chilika Lake, the largest inland lake in India.
The city with a 3,000 years old history is a major tourist’s attraction throughout the year for people from all parts of the globe. The largest city of Odisha, also known as the “Temple City of India” has tremendous religious value in the eastern parts of the nation. Any trip to Odisha remains incomplete without a visit to the most grandeur city. With multiple local transportation options, you will never have to wait to get to the place on your visiting list. Some of the major attractions in the city are Dhauligiri, Mukteshwar Temple, Lingaraj Temple, Khandangiri-Udayagiri Caves, Nanadan Kanan Zoo and many more.
Spread over 1100 sq. km. of area Chilika Lake is the largest coastal lagoon of the country. The Lake is widely popular for its variety of endangered and rare species. Truly a paradise, the lake is home to numerous migratory birds from across the globe. One of the famous attractions named the Nalaban Island is located within the lagoon, which disappears during monsoon due to inundation. Famous for fishing and angling, Chilika Lake is one of the best tourist spot for those in love with nature.
Winter that falls in the months of October to March is a pleasant time to witness the ultimate beauty of the National Park. The actual pleasure for bird-lovers comes with the arrival of the migratory birds from Europe and Central Asia. The olive ridley turtles comes out to lay their eggs on the beach and goes back young ones comes out.
How to Reach
Nearest airport are Bhubaneshwar about 192 km away from Chandabali. Make a direct bus journey from Bhubaneshwar airport to Rajnagar and then take a short boat journey to this park. You will need a entry permission at the gate of Gupti or Khola to reach this sanctuary.
The nearest railway station to Bhitarkanika is Bhadrak about 76 km away and Balasore about 147 km from away. After reaching Bhadrak/ Balasore you can travel to Jayanagar/Chandabali/Rajnagar by a car through the roadways. And then you have to make a boat ride to Khola/Gupti to reach Vitarkanika.
Bhitarkanika is not directly connected to other major parts of Orissa by Roadways. Chandbali or Rajnagr is the ending stoppage to this park. After that you have travel through waterways. Howrah to Bhadrak journey by road about 271 km -> Bhadrak to Chandbali by road about 60 km -> Chandabali to Bhitarkanika by a short boat ride.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
Sand Pebbles Bhitarkanika Jungle Resorts
Khaola Ishwarpur, kendrapara ,
Bhitarkanika National Park , Odisha
Estuarine Village Resort
Nalitapatia (via Ishwarpur),
Rajnagar Block, Kendrapara District,
Rajnagar Block , Bhitarkanika National Park,
Where to Eat
There is no need to carry your own provisions from Chandbali any more. Restaurant is available at Dangmal where you can eat. You cannot eat non-vegetarian foods here, nor can you drink here. Best bet is to eat at Riverine Resort. They can give you all sorts of foods – prawns, crabs, fish, chicken, eggs or lamb. They can serve you drinks too, but, of course, at a higher price!