Odisha is blessed with around 500 km long coastline with most beautiful beaches in the world. Chilika, Asia’s largest brackish water lake, not only provides a haven for millions of birds, but is also one of the few places in India where one can view dolphins. The lush green forest cover Of Odisha plays host to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including the famed Royal Bengal Tiger. Amidst the picturesque hills and valleys nestle a number of breathtaking waterfalls and rivulets that attract visitors from all over.
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Thick and green forests, extensive grassy lands and meadows, cloud kissing peaks, precipitous and sparkling waterfalls, meandering rivers, roaring tigers and trumpeting tuskers, fleeing deer and flying squirrels, talking myna and dancing peacocks et al make Similipal a dreamland of Nature in the wilderness and an irresistible destination.
Covering a vast are of 2750 sq. km out of which 303 sq. km from the core area, thick biosphere reserve is a sanctuary and one of the Tiger Projects and National parks of India. With wide range of rain falls and edaphic variations, range from dry deciduous to moist green forests, it is suitable to different species of flora and fauna. About 1076 species of mammals, 29 types of reptiles and 231 species of birds are the proud possession of this plateau.
CHILIKA LAKE (ODISHA)
Queen of natural beauty, Chilika, the largest brackish water lake in Asia covering an area of over 1,100 sq. km is a great attraction for the tourists for fishing, bird watching and boating. In winter Chilika aflutters with thousands of indigenous and migratory birds of many varieties from far and near – even from the distant Siberia. The fabulous beauty of Chilika which has inspired poets to sing its glory and which can be best enjoyed from Balugaon, Barkul, Rambha and Satpada must be seen to be believed. One can also have a glimpse of the lake from the moving trains and vehicles on the road near these places. The atmosphere is just serene and undisturbed amidst the blue expanse of water on one side and an evergreen range of hills on the other. Dotted with a host of islands with romantic names, a cruise in Chilika will be a life-long memory.
Keonjhar, the district headquarters of the district of Keonjhar offers varieties of attractions to the tourists. It is the most convenient base from where visitors can plan their visit to various places of interest in the district.
Places of tourist interest in Keonjhar
Vishnu Temple, Jagannath Temple, and on its outskirts the shrines of Siddha Jagannath, Siddha Kali, and Panchabati amidst picturesque settings.
Balasore, the headquarters of the district, was an important maritime town in medieval times through the river Budhabalanga. Some portions of the town were occupied by the French and the Dutch which were named as “Farasidinga” and “Dinamardinga”. The ruins of the foreign possessions still exist. Balasore serves as the most convenient base for touring the various places of interest in the district. The Temple of Mahadev Baneswar is one of the main places of tourist interest in Balasore.
Tourist destinations around Balasore
Situated 16 Kms away from Balasore town. The sea beach at Chandipur is surely one among the finest beaches of the country, but with a plus. Here the waters recede five kilometres offshore and proceed rhythmically after a regular interval everyday. The sand-dunes green with wild creepers and the casuarina whistling with the breeze create a fantastic moment for a visitor absorbed in observing the play of the tide. It is well connected by road from Balasore.
Situated 30 Kms away from Balasore on a hillock near Nilagiri, Panchalingeswar is a place with beautiful surroundings and serves as a picnic spot for the visitors. The five lingams known as Panchalingeswar with the perennial spring flowing over them are the added attraction of this place.
Chandaneswar situated 88 Kms away from Balasore. The holy shrine of Lord Chandaneswar is a religious centre for the people of not only the district of Balasore but also of places adjacent. It is a unique sight to see the devotees flock together in hundreds everyday and in thousands on festive occasions like Nilaparva for darshana. About 4 km from Chandaneswar and 4 km from Digha in West Bengal is the tranquil beach at Talasari, surrounded by casuarina groves. A jeep drive on the beach to negotiate both the places is a pleasant and memorable experience.
Situated 110 Kms away from Balasore. A beauty spot on the bank of the river Vaitarani known as the ‘sacred Ganges of Orissa’, Aradi is famous for the saiva shrine of Lord Akhandalamani. Hundreds of pilgrims visit the place daily not only for a Darshan of the Lord but also to seek relief from physical ailment they suffer from. It is 52 km from Bhadrak and 110 km from Balasore. One can also negotiate the place by boat from Chandbali through the river.
Chanbali situated 120 Kms far from Balasore. Chandbali has been a famous river port since medieval time. The tourists can enjoy a boat journey to Aradi and Dhamra by river route from Chandbali.
It is the gateway to one of the most ancient forest covers of Orissa which shelters the elephants, tigers and numerous species of birds and beasts. The broad plains of the river Bramhani were the dwelling place of early homo-sapiens who lived on the berries and wild fruits before the advent of rice on these heavily watered expanses. The surrounding Sal forests come ablaze with the changing seasons making this district headquarters town focal point of trips to beautiful interiors.
DHENKANAL is a district headquarters town with a cluster of temples and archaeological remains. Kapilas, the serene hill of epic fame houses the hilltop shrine of Lord Chandra Sekhar Shiva with a cluster of other temples and a mediaeval fort. The foothill is perched with a Deer Park, a Science Park and a Panthasala- 26 km from Dhenkanal. Joranda (24 km) is the religious headquarters of Mahima Cult. 11 km south-east of Dhenkanal town is Saptasajya, a hill of uncommon scenic charm-ideal for outing.
Tourist destinations around Dhenkanal
The tiny village of Tikarpada (120 km from Dhenkanal and 58 km from anugul) has one of the splendid setting in the world. It offers some of the most exciting visuals of the satkosia gorge, India’s mightiest gorge, into which the turbulent Mahanadi river crashes with amazing ferocity through 22 km of emerlad forests, that seem to change their hues with every bend of the river’s meanderings. Apart from offering gorgeous views from the pinncles of the surrounding hills, there is an excellent potential for angling, boating and trekking around these parts.The Gharial crocodile population obviously enjoys these exotic environs and has an excellent breeding place in this sanctuary created to protect them.
Tikarapara, on the deep Satkosia Gorge of river Mahanadi, has a Gharial Sanctuary-120 km from Dhenkanal and 58 km from Anqul. The dense forest filled with colourful wildlife is a thrill to the searching eyes. Only 90 km from Angul, Deulajhari has come to limelight for the presence of a hot spring.
Situated 16 Kms away from Dhenkanal. The loftiest peak of Kapilas range enshrines the temple of Loard Shiva ‘Chandrasekhar’ at a height of about 457 mtrs. approachable by a flight of 1351 steps and a ghat road. Identified with “Kailas’, the legendary abode of Lord Shiva, the hill has several caves, shrines and the ruins of a medieval fort which are regularly visited by pilgrims. The Deer park and Science Park are other attraction of the place.
The sea shore town of Gopalpur with her blue beach attracts visitors round the globe and offers ‘Sun – Sand – Surf’ to them. The back waters of the Blue Bay enhances the beauty of the quiet beach. Far from the maddening crowd, the sea side resort makes every moment a cherished experience. Gopalpur is connected by road with Berhampur.
50 km from Berhampur, amidst lush green forests is Taptapani where there is a hot water spring. The hot water is channelised to a pond nearby to facilitate fascinating baths. Regular bus service operates to this place from Berhampur.
The temple of Taratarini, the twin Goddesses, is situated on the top of a blue capped hill. The beauty of the place is enhanced by the encircling river Rushikulya. The shrine draws huge crowd throughout the year especially on every Tuesday in the month of Chaitra.
The place is well connected by regular bus service from Berhampur.There is a Revenue Inspection Bungalow here for accommodation whose reservation authority is Tahasildar, Chhatrapur.
Amidst rich scenic beauty of the evergreen forests, Mahendragiri 5,000 feet high, stands in its unrivalled glory in the Parlakhemundi subdivision of the district of Gajapati. The hill is associated with mythological stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It finds mention in the works of poets Kalidas and Radhanath Ray. The rivulet Mahendra Tanaya flows down the hill with her usual trickling note. Archaeological remains at Mahendragiri make an interesting study for the scholars. Sivaratri is the main festival here which draws a large crowd.
Mahendragiri can be approached from Parlakhemundi which is frequented with bus service from Berhampur (125 km) via N.H. No. 5 or via Taptapani and R.Udayagiri (176 km). One can go from Parlakhemundi to Kainpur (46 km) by bus and then to Burkhat pass (5 km) by jeep and finally proceed to the Mahendragiri hill (10 km) on foot.
Pardeep a major sea port of India for trade activities with a fine sea beach and a marine drive is an enjoyable tourist resort attracting large number of visitors from far and wide.
For centuries now, the beach at Puri has been the venue of countless pilgrims taking the traditional purification dip for Puri is the abode of Lord Jagannath and considered one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage destination. However, for decades now, both Indian and foreign beach lovers have made it their special haunt.The fine white sands of Puri beach and the roar of the breakers rolling in from the Bay of Bengal have fascinated visitors throughout the ages. As it is with all the beaches of Odisha, overcrowding is never a problem and the sight of holiday-makers having entirestretches of the beach to themselves is not uncommon.