Considered to be one of the most impressive national parks of Asia, Bhitarkanika National Park is spread over 672 sq km in Keonjhar district of Odisha (Orissa). Surrounded by the Bhitarkanika Sanctuary and shares borders with the Gahirmatha Beach, the national park consists of estuaries, backwaters, creeks and the Brahmani-Baitrani Delta.
The national park is about 123 km east of Cuttack and 145 km northeast of Bhubaneshwar. The core area of the sanctuary was declared a national park in 1998.
Mangroves dominate the ecosystem of the national park and the Bhitarkanika National Park boasts of the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India. Sunderbans in West Bengal has the largest mangrove ecosystem. Spread all over the park, the mangroves can be seen not only in the swamps and marshy areas but also in the dry areas.
The national park is the habitat of 215 species of birds which includes eight different species of Kingfishers. The most commonly seen birds in the national park are egrets, black ibis, darters, cormorants and asian open bill. Bhitarkanika National Park is a well known name abroad as well because of the closely monitored population of saltwater crocodiles.
The saltwater beasts number over 700 and can be found in the swamps, rivers and creeks of the national park. The national park is also home to the rare white crocodiles, cobras, pythons, rhesus monkeys, chitals, monitor lizards and wild boars.
At the south end of the national park is the Gahirmatha Beach which is the lone mass nesting spot in Indian Ocean region and the only turtle sanctuary in Odisha (Orissa). The beach is a UNESCO listed heritage site.
Croc spotting is the most popular tourist activity in Bhitarkanika and they can be found on a ride from Khola to Dangmal. You can try your hand at Angling; indulge in photography and bird watching during your stay in Bhitarkanika National Park.
Khola and Gupti are the two main entry points to the park. Prior permission is needed to from the Forest Check Gate to enter the national park via waterways.
There are fully furnished tents for accommodation in the national park. The tents have decent facilities.It is best to carry food and water while visiting the national park as only stalls can be found inside the park. The stalls too offer only snacks and refreshments.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BHUBANESWAR
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Bhubaneswar is as given below. The best time to visit Bhubaneswar is also specified.