From stunning wildlife to natural habitats, Odisha is gifted with bountiful nature, luring discerning tourists from across the world
There are very few states in India where local communities unanimously work towards preserving nature to promote sustainable tourism. Considered a land of myriad marvels, Odisha houses some of the most dynamic wonders of history and biodiversity. The region has prompted tourists and researchers to explore its famed lush forests, which consist of a total of 110 species of reptiles, including three crocodilian species, 20 species of amphibians, 479 species of birds and 86 species of mammals.
NADANKANAN ZOOLOGICAL PARK
Nandankanan, also known as the Garden of Heaven, is located 15 km from Odisha’s capital, Bhubaneswar. The area is easily accessible as Bhubaneswar railway station is situated at a distance of 18 km while the Biju Patnaik International Airport is 20 km from the region. Nadankanan Zoological Park is a one-of-its-kind zoo, which aims to connect people to wildlife through world-class conservation, education and exciting visitor experiences. Nandankanan Park boasts achievements which animal lovers rarely hear about, with a tally of 101 enclosures with 202 sub-enclosures. It is the only zoological park in India to become an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Nandankanan is the first zoo in the world to breed the white tiger and the melanistic tiger. As a result of multi-achievements, it become the only zoo in India to have an express train (Puri-New Delhi), called Nandankanan Express. With more than 1580 animals, the park houses 634 mammals, 812 birds and 134 reptiles. Moreover, Nandankanan is the only conservation breeding centre for Indian pangolins in the world. If you are an animal lover, Nandankanan is the place to experience the best-of-the-best. Tourist cottages for accommodation are available inside Nandankanan, only by day and on prior reservation.
Known as the ‘Kashmir of Odisha’, Daringibadi hill station is the lone region in the state where snowfall is recorded during winter. The place boasts pine jungles, beautiful valleys and plateaus, dotted with coffee gardens, black pepper and turmeric gardens. Popular for cultural eco-tourism, the Daringbadi lifestyle is dominated by one of the most primitive tribes of India, namely, the ‘Kutia Kondhas’ and ‘Dongri Khond’. Tourists can experience their culture and traditions during their stay at the eco-cottages. Another option is to visit the Daringbadi-Belghar belt, which provides a glimpse of these popular tribes. If you wish to maintain your distance from the city, Daringbadi nature camp offers tourists an exciting stay on the hill top, in six tribal cottages. The camp is managed by the local community and keeps you away from the usual cacophony. Daringbadi is a perfect destination to taste the true flavours of Odisha, which blends traditional and modern cuisines.
SATKOSIA SANDS RESORT
Situated on the banks of the Mahanadi River, Satkosia Sands Resort is home to rich regional flora and fauna. The area is surrounded by jungles of the Satkosia Tiger Reserve, so don’t be surprised if you have close encounters with spotted deer, sambar, leopard, dholes and wild cats. One of the best sights are the shimmering white sands on a winter morning, with the backdrop of the rising sun. Located at Badmul, this eco-resort has seven luxurious AC cottages on mountain slopes which face the scenic Satkosia Gorge. In addition, the eco-campus has nine luxury Swiss Cotton Tents on the sandbar of Mahanadi River. The resort offers organic and sumptuous Odiya and Indian vegetarian cuisine, as well as non-vegetarian cuisines. Visitors can enjoy the local folk dance performance, followed by an open-sky dinner and bonfire. The resort is favoured by wildlife writers and photographers. In order to get the most of the Odisha adventure, guests can indulge in sand sports, swimming, boating in the Satkosia Gorge and cycling in the jungle. Veteran eco-guides are also available, who can accompany people while trekking. Some of the rarely seen species of birds can be found at Satkosia Gorge as it is home to many migratory birds. During winter, around hundreds of Indian skimmers, pintails, bar headed geese, herons, pratincoles, Brahminy ducks, lapwings and gulls can be seen on the sandbars.