Bhitarkanika is considered as one of the most impressive national parks in Asia. Bhitarkanika National Park has spread almost 672 sq km in Keonjhar district of Odisha. Ringed by the Bhitarkanika shrine 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 to Cuttack and 145 km northeast to Bhubaneshwar. The core area of the sanctuary was declared as a national park in 1998.
Mangroves control the ecosystem of the national park and the Bhitarkanika National Park bluster as of the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India. Sunderbans in West Bengal has the largest mangrove ecosystem.
The national park is the haven of 215 breeds of birds which includes eight different breeds of Kingfishers. The most common birds in the national park are egrets, black ibis, darters, cormorants, and Asian openbill. Bhitarkanika National Park is well known abroad as well because of the monitored population of saltwater crocodiles.
There are 700 saltwater and can be found in the swamps, rivers, and creeks of the national park. The rare white crocodiles can be seen in the national park, we can also see cobras, pythons, rhesus monkeys, chitals, monitor lizards, and wild boars.
Gahirmatha Beach is at the south end of the national park which is the lone mass nesting spot in the Indian Ocean region and the only turtle sanctuary in Odisha (Orissa). The beach is listed as a UNESCO heritage site.
The most popular tourist activity is Croc spotting in Bhitarkanika and they can be found on a ride from Khola to Dangmal. Tourist can try their hand at Angling; indulge in photography and bird watching during the stay in Bhitarkanika National Park.
Khola and Gupti are the two main entrances to the park. Prior permission is needed from the Forest Check Gate to enter the national park via waterways.
Best Time to Visit
Tourists from all over the world come to Bhitarkanika round the year and get moved by the beauty and diversity of the place. Mainly summer, rainy, and winter three main seasons are witnessed in the Bhitarkanika National Park. The summer season hails from March to June. During this span, the days are hot that restricts the presence of the fauna to mornings and evenings.
The rainy season starts from the month of June and extends till October giving tough times to the travelers. Since waterways are the only mode of reaching Bhitarkanika, the downpour gives a frequent flow of the canals and brooks thus blocking the pathways to reach the lodges.
Winter that falls in the months of October to March is the best time to witness the ultimate beauty of the National Park. The actual pleasure for bird-lovers comes with the arrival of the transient birds from Europe and Central Asia. The olive ridley turtles come out to lay their eggs on the beach and goes back when the young ones come out.
Located in: Kendrapada District
Nearest Airport: Bhubaneswar (75 Kms approx)
Nearest Railway Station: Bhadrak (49 Kms approx)
Best Time to visit: October to February