Before proceeding into the detailed story I want to thank my juniour collegue Syam Sunder Rao in assisting me with the camera and in providing some mindblowing images.Follow i_syam7926 for more delightful images in Instagram.
Man machine and forest combine together to give a cycle of relief and stress for some people in our society.I am one of them.My work life is heavily oriented in maintaining huge machines but at the same time my working schedule provides me ample oppurtunity to explore my surroundings.Machines cannot dominate our emotions until we have our beautiful nature to explore.I live in odisha which provides the best oppurtunity to explore forest wildlife in our country.According to my shift rota I get three holidays in every month which I believe I have not wasted a single time since I got my job.
Fortunately the last week of December 2017 I availed that three holidays to spend my new year night in the second largest reserve forest in our country in Simlipal. Sometimes I feel so lucky working in shifts which gives me that oppurtunity to avail the rest days in exploring this beautiful state. Odisha is the soul of our country in terms of tourist attractions. It has a long coastline with the bay of bengal,the largest brackish water lake which is chilka,Eastern ghats with highly dense forests and numerous unexplored waterfalls.This state is also an important supplier of rich minerals that contributes in the economic development of our country.Hats off to the government in odisha in preserving such pristine destinations amidst heavy industrialization.Visit odisha and you will get to know about the versatality of our country’s terrain.
After two days of strenous night shift we started our trip in the early morning hours of 30 th December from our NTPC township in Talcher kaniha. Talcher boasts of a heavily power capital of the state with the largest reserves of coal in India.Many tourist destinations of north western odisha is well connected by roads from Talcher .So we booked an Innova for a road trip to Jashipur. Well Jashipur is a major town in Mayurbhanj district which acts as an entry point to the Simlipal National sanctuary.
We crossed the Samal barrage which is a hydro power plant built over Brahmini river.Within an hour we were travelling ont he highway surrounded by fertile plains and coconut trees.The countryside of odisha is beautiful and it still holds the purest form of rural India.There is a definite difference in the colours of the villages in monsoon than in other seasons.While now we were watching golden crops in paddy fields but in the monsoon the whole of Odisha turns delightfully green.Still the scenery offered much green forests ,thanks to the plantation initiatives which has been taken up by the head of the companies engaged in doing business in the state.
We had our pit stop in a dhaba after passing through numerous avenues of teak trees for lunch.After lunch due to our strenous schedule on the previous days we went back to sleep inside the car while our skillful driver reached Jashipur by evening .On the way we crossed another famous destination of Odisha i.e Keonjhar which also boasts of three famous waterfalls and ancient archaeological site.
LOCAL TEA JUNCTIONS BY THE HIGHWAY.
After reaching Jashipur our only task was to find a hotel for our night stay since we planned to explore Simlipal on the next day in the early morning hours.We found out that in this small town there were only two decent hotels which was obvious for this small town in this district.Hotel Shivam Palace is a good option for staying here .The hotel is run by an old man who is very cooperating and simple .He also arranged for us the contacts for jeep safari and a guide to explore the Simlipal forest.
The only food options we found out in this small town were dhabas by the highways.The dhabas cook excellent delicious foods with many options for the menu.So we too had our dinner in one of the many dhabas. One additional advantage to to eat in these dhabas is that for chicken they dont provide the poultry meat.They provide the rural hens of the villages which are rare to find and even more tasty than the poultry chicken.After a delicious dinner with the countryside chicken we went off to sleep as we were tired due to the full day journey.
Next day we woke up in the early morning hours to avail an early morning safari.We gave our documents to our guide necessary for the entry to the reserve sanctuary.Here comes the first drawback and frustrating moment in our tour.The total formalities took over for three hours to take permission for the forest check gates.The documents required for permission from the forest department are the print out of the ticket for staying inside the Eco tourism Guest house inside the forest house with the original Identity card mentioned when booking the Guest house and the driving licence of the car drivers who will go for safari.They charge Rs 600 for a guide which they provide to each and every tourist vehicle going inside and Rs 200 each for the vehicle to enter.We took two cars inside the forest so we need Rs 400 in total for entry pass inside the forest.Unfortunately the people in the tourist office were into some confusion to relate to our printout of our bookings inside Eco tourism.They gave us two papers to fill in the details of the passenger and the car.Since we were also going inside with our Innova so we had to submit the driving licence of our driver.
FOREST OFFICE WHERE PERMIT IS TO BE TAKEN.
To our surprise we saw the office was devoid any computers.So all the entry forms were being handled by a single aged man .All these process took a healthy time from us.I think when tourists are carrying the printout format of their bookings in the government Eco tourism guest house then it is not necessary to again fill up a form mentioning the details of the passengers since the printout carries the details.To avoid the heavy rush of the tourists ,staffs in the office must be increased with computers which will reduce the waiting time. Infact after the formalities of the office there were even more two checking points for a throughout check up of the vehicles.They check for any alcoholic drinks since any type of alcoholic drinks are not allowed inside the forest.
FOREST ENTRY GATE.
After such strict security checkup we proceeded to move along the Khairi river inside the dense forest.Now this river has some historical significance.It was on the banks of this river that in the year 1974 the then field officer Saroj Raj Choudhury found a tigress cub on the banks of river Khairi. He took care of the cub as a foster father and that was how Simlipal National sanctuary came to limelight all over the world due to the tiger and human relationship.The muddy road will pass by the river amidst dense forest of sal and teakwood trees.
HOUSES OF KHADIA TRIBALS AS WE ENTER THE FOREST.
There will be rocks scattered on the free flowing river bed with tribal people taking a bath on the water.I knew I was totally inside a rural village of our country.Shortly after few kms we were completely driving on the red soil into the deep forest cover.We arrived in a spot which described about a 300 years old Sal tree.Instead of seeing an old tree I preferred to see the different types of flora and fauna inside the forest.
Simlipal is famous for orchid plants and has been already declared as a biosphere by the UNESCO world heritage site.It has a core area of more than 300 square kilometres making it the second largest national park of our country.There were different variety of money plants of various shapes which astonished me completely.The smell of the fresh forest cover with the red soil transported me into a whole different ambience away from the daily smokes of the chimney.
FAUNA AS WE PROCEEDED INTO THE FOREST.
At intervals we came across small villages consisting of local tribes known as khadia with their typical mud thatched roof houses.There were open valleys plenty with rice plantation ,surrounded by the dense forests of the Eastern Ghats.Sometimes we crossed river khairi meandering its way into the forest below the wooden bridges. Sometimes we came across small shops with roofs made of straw making tea and omlettes for the tourists.
KHADIA TRIBAL SETTLEMENTS IN THE VILLAGES INSIDE THE FOREST.
The first village that we arrived inside Simlipal was Gudgudia.It is similar to like one of many tribal villages in Odisha with Government Eco Tourism Guesthouse making the centre stage with two baby elephants.Tourists can touch and feed the two elephants at their will.
Meandering down the quaint roads with the smell of red laterite soil we proceeded our picturesque journey to Uski waterfall. Uski waterfall is situated deep into the forest with excellent flow of water gushing down from the cliffs inside the forest.Next we proceeded our journey to Barehipani waterfall.
ON THE WAY TO BAREHIPANI FROM USKI.
Barehipani waterfall is one of the highest plunge waterfall in India covering a height of more than 400 metres .The splendid form of the waterfall falling in steps like a white ribbon will mesmerise the tourist to praise the subtle things of nature.The shape of this waterfall is so unique than many other waterfalls in India .
The view point is made of cliffs so tourists should be careful of taking the photographs carefully. Barehipani waterfall gushes down with huge volumes of water to form a part of Budhabalanga river.So one can imagine the mineral content in the sweet water of the river due to the water eroding the rocks while its journey to the river.The origin of the river is Balanga compartment which is 25 kms south of Barehipani.The minimum temperature of the water is 7 deg celsius in winter and 35 deg celsius in the summer. Dont forget to take a wallpaper picture of this marvelous waterfall in odisha.
It was already 5 o clock in the evening and the sun was seting down .We had some snacks in of the local shops of the Khadia tribals and quicky proceeded for the safari to the core of the forest.Chahala is a village 35 kms inside the forest where animal sighting is possible.
The forest officials have put up a watchtower for animal sighting inside the forest.In front of the watchtower there is a huge field into which the forest officials spread salt over the grasses for the herbivorous animals.The animals need iodine for the proper functioning of their digestive system so The come to graze on the field to taste the iodine rich grasses.One can spot the barking deer,spotted deers,elephants and wild boars here.It was already sunset so we only saw the glowing eyes of numerous deers in the dark.
FULL MOON IN CHAHALA.
The forest officials discussed with us his experiences during animal survey when they go deep inside the forest.According to him there are 35 Royal bengal tigers and 100 leopards inside the forest.He gave us a detailed knowledge of the behavioral skills of various animals in the forest which enlightened our evening discussion with lemon tea.We spent an hour there and then quickly proceeded to our Eco tour guest house in Kumari village.
ECO TOUR GUEST HOUSE COTTAGES.
When we reached our homestays it was 8 o clock in the night time and it was pitch dark.We refreshed ourselves with some cold water and prepared ouselve for the overnight party inside this remarkable moonlight of 31st december.It was my best new year celebration under an open sky with no mobile tower thus no notifications to disturb me.We arranged bornfires and enjoyed every bit of the marvelous campus which the Government of Eco tourism has set up in kumari.
In the morning we were amazed to see the views from our rooms.There were huge farmlands blooming with golden crops all around us.The khadia tribals were ploughing their field with the cows and sometimes the kids were running around in freedom.
This intense rural natural ambience will always pull me again to visit the village kumari. The garden inside the campus was blooming with flowers with fresh colours of nature.We took every oppurtunity to take photos in detail for the lovely memories of our first day of 2018.After breakfast we packed our bags to return back to our homes bidding goodbye to the khadia tribals of kumari.
On our return journey we took a single pit stop on the beautiful banks of the river khairi.
Now this is the river where in 1974 The khadia tribals found a tigress cub and they immediately brought it to the then forest field officer Mr Saroj Raj Choudhury. Immediately the forest officer took care of the baby cub like a foster father.The tigress ate from his hands and cuddled into the saree of her foster mother.The incident became famous all over India.A tiger that ate and slept with the human beings.The tigress grew up into a healthy one and died in 1981 due to rabies.Mr Saroj Raj Chodhury died soon after.He was forever known as the person who lived and died for a tiger.
On the banks of the river khairi we tasted the sweet water of the river and played with the rifts formed due to the rocky bed on the river.The temperature and taste of the clean mineral rich river water was out of this world.I felt like the soul of the forest officer,the khadia tribals and that of the numerous tigress cubs reaching out to us to help and preserve the subtle geography of our mother Earth.Tourist visiting this second largest national sanctuary must take care of not polluting inside the forest and spread the message to save the tiger which is a pride of our country. Simlipal is rich in flora and fauna so tourists must take enough time to explore this beautiful part of odisha.