A state extremely rich in heritage and culture, Odisha is also home to a huge number of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. It is, in fact, one of the richest states in biodiversity we have in the country. Located in the south-eastern part of India, the next time you’re in Odisha, these are the parks you must explore along with the intricately designed temples and historical monuments, of course.

Simlipal National Park

A sanctuary with a large population of tigers, Simlipal is also known for its scenic beauty courtesy of the hills surrounding the area. While it used to be a hunting site for the erstwhile royals of Odisha, the park today is a favourite for sighting royal tigers in their natural habitat. It is located at a distance of 300 kilometres from Bhubaneswar, the capital city.

Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary

The area around Chilika Lake – India’s largest freshwater lake – is what constitutes the wildlife sanctuary. Home to a variety of avifauna and aquatic animals, the most commonly spotted birds here include flamingo, white bellied sea eagle, brahminy kite, spot-billed pelican, bar-headed goose, ibis, stilt, heron, egret and tern. Among aquatic wildlife, this sanctuary houses dolphin, prawn, and crab. If you’re lucky, you can also spot blackbuck, golden jackals and hyenas.

Kotagarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Along with a sizeable tiger population, the sanctuary is also home to wild elephants, deer, peacocks and nilgai. It is a must-visit for an off-beat traveller because this one does not attract as much crowd as the other parks of the state.

Satkosia Tiger Reserve

Satkosia is a result of the mighty Mahanadi river cutting through the Eastern Ghats. It is a deep gorge and perhaps one of the most picturesque ecosystems in India. The dense forest surrounding the gorge constitutes the sanctuary, and is home to tigers, gharials, mugger crocodiles, leopard, elephant, jackals, giant squirrels, gaur, sambar, spotted deer and a huge variety of avifauna.

Nandankanan Zoological Park

An interesting cross between a wildlife sanctuary and a zoo, Nandankanan Zoological Park is about 17 kilometres from the city of Cuttack. Home to crocodiles, sambar, panther and blackbuck, the park is known to house over a hundred different kinds of fauna.