Bhitarkanika National Park – India’s Amazon and Habitat to World’s Largest Saltwater Crocodile
Bhitarkanika National Park is situated in Kendrapara district, Odisha state, India. It is the core area of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. This national park is known for it’s mangrove forests. Bhitarkanika’s mangrove forests are locally known as “India’s Amazon”.
Claims of a 7.1 meter (23 feet 4 inch), 2,000 kilograms (4,400 lb) male saltwater crocodile, living within Bhitarkanika National Park, was accepted by Guinness World Records. But it still needs to be verified. There are practical difficulties in varying the claim.
Bhitarkanika National Park is home to a large species of migratory birds. It is also the habitat for turtles, crocodiles, etc. It is rich in flora and fauna. Leopard cat, jungle cat, fishing cat, wild boar, sambar, spotted deer, porcupine, dolphin, hyena, etc are to name a few. Giant Salt Water Crocodile can be seen in plenty. 320 species of avian fauna were reported to have spotted here. Eight species of Kingfishers are also found here.
Bhitarkanika national park was declared as a national park of India on the 16 September, 1998. It was declared as a Ramsar site on 19 August 2002 by UNESCO (as per Ramsar Convention alias Convention on Wetlands).
Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra and Pathsala rivers flows through this national park. It is the second largest mangrove Eco-system in India.
Erstwhile Kings of the princely state of Kanika, used to hunt in this area. Hunting towers and artificial watering holes can still be seen here. Lot of medieval Hindu temples can also be seen here in this national park.
It is situated at a distance of around 175 kilometers from Chilika Lake, Asia’s Largest Brackish Water Lagoon. It is a must-see place for any tourist to Odisha.
How Do I Go to Bhitarkanika National Park?
Cuttack city is at around 140 kilometers and Bhubaneswar city is at around 160 kilometers. Bhubaneswar airport is the nearest airport to Bhitarkanika National Park.
Main entry gates to Bhitarkanika National Park are at Khola and Gupti. Entry permits can be obtained from the forest department’s check gates here. Khola Gate is the main entry point.
The Bhadrak Railway Station on Kolkata-Chennai line is the nearest railway station to the national park, at around 135 kilometers distance. The Cuttack Railway Station is situated at around 116 kilometers away.
There are boats available for hiring inside Bhitarkanika National Park. Khola to Dangmal boat ride or in the reverse direction, along an artificial creek filled with dense mangrove forests, is highly recommended for any tourist to this national park.