Bhitarkanika - Orissa, Beaches and Birds
If you are looking for a place off the beaten track for your next holiday, Bhitarkanika
is definitely worth a look. The Bhitarkanika group of islands in Northern Orissa
offers not just great beaches but exciting trekking trails through forests teeming
with wildlife. Bhitarkanika is Orissa`s only and probably country`s second viable
mangrove eco-system. Here, innumerable criss-crossed tidal inundated creeks provide
the last refuge to the already endangered salt water Crocodile (Crocodile Porosus)
The Bhitarkanika islands can be reached from Bhadrak which is on the Calcutta- Madras
railwayline. A night train from Calcutta`s Howrah station will reach Bhadrak( 297
km) at dawn. From Bhadrak head for Chandbali ( 42km) by jeep. A motorboat will take
you from Chandbali to the island of Dangamal which has a Forest Rest House with
basic amenities. You need to book your rooms here beforehand.
The boatride to the Forest Rest House at Dangamal is enchanting in itself. The motorboat
chugs down the Baitarini river towards its confluence with the brahmini river, then
swings into a creek where the waters are calm but full of crocodiles, some 20ft
Kingfishers ( many varieties), cattle egrets, herons, sandpipers, plovers, white
ibis, drongos, swallows and many other birds can be seen flying across the creek.
The Forest Rest House at Dangamal island has tall coconut trees around it and is
close to a large marsh at the edge of the jungle. The nearby forest has wild boars,
hyenas, water monitors and deer.
A 45-minute boat-ride from Dangamal brings you to Bird Island, where you can watch
migratory birds from a watchtower.
Bhitarkanika island itself lies across the river, opposite Dangamal. Treks through
the forests here are usually rewarded by wildlife spotting. Colorful butterflies
flutter about, small pools emerge out of the wilderness, and at the end of the trail
is a ruined temple.
Four hours away from Dangamal by motorboat, is Ekakula-an island away from the estuary
and on the Bay of Bengal. Brilliant blue sea and a quiet beach! Observe carefully
and you may spot pugmarks of wild boars, jackals and hyenas. Early morning and evening,
dolphins can be spotted in the sea.
Ekakula has a forest resthouse too. So has Habalighati or Garhimata which is an
hour`s walk on the beach from Ekakula. Stay at Garhimata if you want to watch Olive
Ridley turtles-for Garhimata is famous as the nesting ground of Olive Ridley turtles.
How to go there:
By train from Howrah ( Calcutta) to Bhadrak ( 297 km). Closest airport- Bhubaneswar;
Bhubaneswar to Bhadrak (154 km.). From Bhadrak by jeep to Chandbali. Get entry permits
from Asst. Conservator of Forests, Chandbali before entering the Bhitarkanika National
Accommodation at Dangmal, Gupti, Ekakula and Habalikhati is to be booked in advance
from the Wildlife Warden at Rajnagar( in District Kendrapara)
Best time to visit:
October - March