It can not be termed as a weekend getaway for it is a complete escape from the humdrum of the world. This little piece of heaven on the Odisha coastline is brimming with adventure and nature. Little known to the world, Bhitarkanika National Park is located on the coast, in Kendrapara district, in the estuary of the Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamara and Mahanadi rivers and is home to mainly estuarine crocodiles among other flora and fauna. It is the second largest mangrove ecosystem, luxuriously green and plush.
We had an unforgettable experience of staying in the lap of nature in the tents of a private resort. A flock of ducks and a kit of white pigeons to accompanied us for the campfire at night along side a small pond. To team it up, a spicy Odia dinner awaited to pacify our palate. We reposed in our tents, looking forward to a pristine morning. As the rooster crowed at the break of dawn, we got ready to experience Bhitarkanika at its wildest!
We boarded the motor boat and quickly climbed to the roof to witness nature’s wonder. Amidst open skies, we glided along the brook watching the magic reveal. Parrots, kingfishers and cranes were among the few birds that we could recognize and dozens of other birds whom we could only admire. Herds of deer posed as we clicked them. And we saw crocodiles… large slimy and lazy, basking in the sun, indifferent to the world, slowly sliding into the water. The smaller ones were active rushing in and out of the waters. We also visited Bhitarkanika National Park at Dangamal which is home to the white crocodile ‘Gouri’ and an in-house museum. ‘Gouri’, the 6.9-feet rare white female crocodile is a product of captive breeding at Dangamal. The museum showcases relics and skulls of different varieties of sea animals and creepy reptiles. It brings back the memories of that old biology laboratory of school. For tree lovers, there are age-old trees who have withstood the tryst of cyclones and storms of Bay of Bengal and deforestation. It is a live picture of Mangroves, adventitious roots, parasitic plants and much more. The mangroves seemed like brown stalagmites resembling the plants of the Forbidden Forest of Harry Potter books. Sun rays played hide n seek among the branches of the evergreen trees and as we trekked along, we reached a pond, full of white lotuses, surrounded by trees laden with fruits. We also grabbed a glimpse of the water monitor lizards, wild boars and four horned antelopes that roaming around freely. While we returned on the motor boat we saw many-a scavengers feeding on a carcass of a buffalo. A crocodile here and a crocodile there, played peek-a-boo with us. As the ride came to an end, it brought us so much closer to Nature.
As we packed our bags to visit the sun-kissed beach of Pentha, the memories lingered with hustle bustle of the forest, the animals and the birds. The efforts of the authorities and the local people, to maintain the sanctity of the forest, needs to be applauded and rewarded. Their conscious efforts are the reason that there is not even a hint of plastic in the rivers and forests of Bhitarkanika. The beach at Pentha was forlorn and lonely. Gushing waters, sprawling crabs, glistening sand and palm trees depicted that the poetry of earth is not dead. It is just that we fail to recognize and admire it.
Bhitarkanika is all that you want from life… adventurous yet calm, silent yet lyrical, wild yet sober, rustic yet trendy.
If it was so enchanting in the off-season, I can just help and wonder about the peak period. Odisha tourism lives up to its tagline, “Scenic, serene and sublime”!
– Amrita Mishra.
Amrita is a Saggitarian who loves traveling, reading books and watching Bollywood films. Born and brought up in Bhubaneswar, she has been working for Infosys Technologies for the last two years.