Sights to See
This is the landwhere once flourished the maritime civilisation of theKalingans. The inhabitants of the area used to sail out to Indonesia, Java, Bali and Sumatra for trade. Old ruins now covered by mangrove and lingering traditions, like Mangala worships during August-September and boat festival on the full moon of Kartika, are the links to the old glory of the place.
Bhitarkanika is located in the Brahmani-Baitarani delta, in the east of Odisha. The area is intersected by a network of tidal creeks and rivulets. Places to visit are Dangmal, a crocodile breeding farm.The proud possession of this Farm is the white crocodile Sankhua, a rare species. Bagagahanais for bird watchers, to see birds of different species chirping and nesting here in a large quantity. Gahirmathais another amazing phenomenon of nature –lakhs of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles visit this place twice every year between January and March to lay eggs en masse. An unexpected additional attraction is the remains of two 9th century monument- a temple dedicated to worship of Lord Shiva and the other, a Shakti Shrine at Dangmal.
Flora & Fauna:
The Sanctuary holds the richest mangrove vegetation in India with three species of Heretiera, four species of Avicennia, three species of Rhizophora, four species of Mangrove flourishing in the sanctuary, out of 58 species, so far recorded in India. The coastal sand dunes are covered by casuarina plantations.
Reptiles are the dominant species. The Salt Water Crocodile is the top predator. The sanctuary holds the largest crocodile up to 22 feet long. The other common reptiles are three species of Monitor Lizards including VaranusSalvator, king cobra, python, banded kraits and water snakes. Other animals are panther, leopard, dolphin, fishing cat, hyena, otters, porcupine, wild pig, sambar (introduced and naturalised), chital, and rhesus monkey. The Sanctuary is rich with avian fauna like white ibis, geese, grebes, gulls, terns, plovers, sand pipers, storks, white bellied sea eagle, kite, flower pecker, whistling teal, brahminy duck,etc. It holds one of the largest heronries of the East Coast.A large number of migratory birds including the
maximum number of bar
headed geese settles in the wetlands and mud flats for wintering. One
can find over 170 species of resident and migratory birds here. It is considered to be the largest rookery for the Pacific Ridley Sea
Turtles. The coastal sand serves as the nesting ground of millions of
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, which stay from November through April each
year. The annual nesting of sea turtles occurs sometimes in the first
week of January.
As Bhitarkanika is a place of rare natural beauty, it is also a cynosure for the eco-tourists. In recent times large numbers of visitors are attracted to Bhitarkanika for its picturesque landscape and animals. Infact, Bhitarkanika is one of the places where wild animals are at their visible best.