The reserve is the second largest in terms of flora and fauna, with more than 1300 plant species and 94 types of orchids.
A sprawling National Park known for its verdant landscapes, picturesque waterfalls and abundant flora and fauna, Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha offers a fantastic getaway from the frenetic paces of city life.
If you are looking for a holiday to an offbeat destination, a journey to Similipal is nothing short of paradise, given the unexploited, enchanting beauty that this place has to offer.
A green escape
A tiger reserve in the Mayurbhanj district in the state of Odisha, Similipal is surrounded by greens of all shapes and sizes. Rest assured that once you step inside the jungle, you lose contact with the world outside! It's a great place for people to engage in conversations and spend quality time with each other. Families can come here to bond a little more and escape from their busy lives in the city. Not only does this place connect with your soul but it also takes you on an inward journey with yourself. Nature has its own ways of rejuvenating you, and forest therapy is what you will receive here.
Located in the heart of Odisha, this tiger reserve is more than just a forest. It is a place where you will find yourself. In today’s frenzied world, it’s surprising to find a place where there is so much peace and silence all around while there is zero connectivity with the outside world.
Home to varied flora & fauna
Similipal is the largest sal bearing forest. It is also home to many wild animals like the barking deer and the giant squirrel that is easily spotted at every bend and corner if you're lucky enough. The entire reserve is the second largest in terms of flora and fauna, with more than 1300 plant species and 94 types of orchids. This place is also home to more than 362 species of birds, over 62 species of reptiles and numerous species of insects.
More than a tourist destination, Similipal is a place you feel at home, where you are not just in awe but also have to respect Mother Nature. Not surprisingly, I felt a heightened sensory experience here, as I could literally hear my thoughts as I breathed in the fresh air. Even the crystal clear waters of the stream managed to mirror my soul. Interestingly, the second-largest National Park in India derives its name from the Simul tree (red silk cotton tree).
There is also a beautiful river flowing through the region, called Palpala. This place is surrounded by hills, waterfalls, small streams and stunning landscapes. There are also small tribal villages around the forest reserve. I was mesmerised by the rocky backdrops of the famous Devkund and Sitakunda waterfalls in the area.
Other places of interest
Other places to visit include Uski waterfall and Barehipani — one of India’s largest waterfalls, which is at a height of about 217 metres. Other waterfalls are Joranda, which can also be seen from a nearby watchtower. Sitakunda and Devkund are open throughout the year for tourists to come and enjoy the beautiful Similipal forest. There are facilities for stay as also ancient places of worship near these areas. There are also two picnic spots — Manchabandha and Lulung near Lulung Aranya Nivas Resort.
To enter the Similipal Tiger Reserve, one needs to secure a permit from one of the permit counters at Pithabata and Jashipur, which are open every day between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Available on a first come-first served basis, a maximum of 35 vehicles are allowed on any given day. Entry is only permitted for four-wheelers and a registered guide is required to accompany you during your ride inside the forest reserve.
(The author is a travel journalist and a storyteller)