It was a hectic day followed by a sleepless night when we disembarked from the train at Bhadrak, a little laid back town in coastal Odisha in the wee hours. We were heading for a road less traveled by, high with spirit and energy. Our destination was Bhitarkanika National Park during the long weekend of October, 2015.
Bhitarkanika is situated at the mouth of river Baitarani and Brahmani where the rivers branch out in numerous distributaries forming a labyrinth of narrow creeks which end up pours down finally in Bay of Bengal. Tropical mangrove forests adorn the islets and rivulets forming the second largest mangrove ecosystem after Sunderbans in the moth of Ganga-Padma in Bengal. It is also popularly known as ltlle Amazon of India due to similarity of the landscape and rich bio diversity along with plethora of marine/coastal flora and fauna. It is protected and conserved as National Park and Ramsar Site(Convention on Wetlands of International Importance) by Government of India. It is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sight from India and hopefully will be declared soon. It is home to a large population of salt water crocodiles and famous endangered Olive Ridley Turtles. Various species of exotic fauna also flock the vast stretches of the park from November to February.
Our journey started from Bhadrak around 04:30 AM by vehicle. In an hour or so, we reached Chandbali, the gateway to the park located in the Kendrapada district. A mechanized boat pre arranged by our uber energetic event coordinator. We pledged to take away only photos and leave behind only footprints. Soon our boat started to sail along the Baitarani river towards Jaynagar of Rajkanika block where our basic but wonderful stay was arranged. As the boat moved ahead we could witness nature slowly revealing her beauty. Lush green flora along the banks with azure sky above offered a picture perfect scenery . After more than than two hours we reached our resort.
After putting some fuel on, we went out for the most exciting part on our boat again. We were now heading for the core area of Bhitarkanika. Soon with the high tide we entered a narrow creek called Khola and meandered through the dense mangrove vegetation all around. The trees were half submerged and our boatman steadily maneuvered our flotilla through the dense jungles towards Dangmal. En route we saw numerous deers and birds. Dangmal has a nature interpretation centre and a museum. From Dangmal we moved towards Heronry inside Suajore creek. It was real excitement and thrill as we spotted numerous crocodiles along the banks. We had to get off the boat to seethe Heronry where hundreds of birds mostly Herons can be sighted. It was a rejuvenating walk along the jungle trail and climbing the watch tower to see the cluster of birds. The day ended finally with a stunning sunset probably one of the best we ever had in our life. The riot of colors on the horizon elated our minds with heavenly pleasure. The silence of the night there was a defining experience. The silhouettes of boats bathing on bright and brilliant moonlight in the vast expanse of water left us awestruck.
Next morning, rejuvenated with fresh air, a good sound sleep and delicious food we left for visiting the Kanika Island, Dhamara Port on the sea mouth. We cruised ahead the sand heads towards the sea mouth. Slowly the creeks opened up and we entered the sea. We were cruising along the coastline as we saw Kanika and Wheeler Island in the horizon. We crossed the channel and anchored on the Udabali beach on the Kanika Island. It was a pristine, secluded beach with spectacular view of the sea and the coast. The beach is nesting ground of thousands of Red Crabs and the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles come here in winter to lay eggs. It suddenly became overcast with mammoth clouds on the horizon. We were still in the middle of the sea and it was a sight to behold. Our little boat floating in endless expanse of water and thunderstorms all around. The mesmerizing shades of the water and the overcast sky was treat to the eyes and lenses.
Next day , we left for Bhadrak in the morning and hence towards Kolkata charged with energy and sweet memories of a beautifully spent weekend on the lap of nature. Few little known individuals started the journey together and returned as friends to cherish the refreshing memories which the cubicle cannot provide.