Weekend Escape to Debrigarh Sanctuary and Hirakud

Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary – A little yet unknown sanctuary tucked at the western corner of Odisha near Sambalpur is a wonderful place to unwind and relax for true nature lovers. Thanks to a brilliant initiative by Odisha Forest Department, a ecotourism venture of Eco Tour Odisha is managing and promoting sustainable, responsible tourism to little known forest areas of the state with web based seamless booking and reasonable package for hassle free visit for nature lovers to these little known gems.

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We visited at the last weekend of 2018 when other popular locations were crowded and what a plesant experience it was. Mahanadi river originates at highlands of Chhattisgarh and meanders through western Odisha and got captive near Sambalpur by massive Hirakud Dam creating largest man made reservoir in World. The dense forests around the western periphery of Hirakud reservoir is conserved as Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary and it is a home of many flora and fauna.

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We reached Sambalpur from Howrah by Howrah – Koraput – Jagdalpur Express in morning. We hired a Bolero through forest officials otherwise personal vehicle can be taken also. Our drive started towards Hirakud Dam ans soon we crossed the town and the Mahanadi river. One sharp turn around a hillock and a entire panorama of vast blue waters of Hirakud reservoir opened up. We drove for 40 kms around the dyke of Hirakud Dam and could not turn our eyes off from the enchanting azure vast expanse of water with small lush hills in the backdrop.

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We arrived at Dhodrokusum check post for entry into the sanctuary. Here every vehicle and visitors need to register themselves by paying entry fee/camera/vehicle fee etc. After completing the paperwork the eco camp is another 5 kms inside the forest on the bank of the reservoir at Barakhondia. It is a nicely organised property with eco cottages named after five elements and a dining hall with stunning view. The cottages have all the modern amenities including AC. Only TV is left out purposefully to maintain the peace of the tranquil location. Food is taken care by the camp authorities and I did not expect such a wonderful meals inside a remote forest. They provide breakfast, lunch, evening snacks and dinner. The food was delicious and they provide good variety and options in the meals.

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There is no official safari till now. But there is a jungle trail of 20 Km to Chourasimaal where tourists are permitted to drive. If they are lucky they can spot wild animals like Bison, Leopard, Monkeys etc. We were not that lucky , we saw only couple of Langurs and a peacock. But the forest trail through deciduous forests is dreamy. The drive through spotless clean and pollution free trail was pure bliss. This is a place not to chase for famous sites , it has no such site. Debrigarh is a place to relax and do nothing but roaming around the Hirakud Dam and enjoying the blissful and sublime nature. The night visitors can enjoy the thousand stars and the lights of the dam in distance.

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Next day, we visited the Hirakud Dam view point..Gandhi Minar. It is a watch tower over a hillock overlooking the dam and offers a birds eye view of the dam. A cablecar is under construction.As of now vehicles can go up to a certain point.

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On the way of return, we took a detour to the peculiar and unique Leaning Temple of Huma and a quintessential visit to Samaleswari Temple, the guardian deity of Sambalpur.

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Useful Tips:

Nearest Railhead: Sambalpur Jn(SBP) 

Debrigarh Nature Camp packages can be booked through ecotourodisha.com in advance.

For Vehicle contact Suresh Singh:7008426779

Cost of Vehicle: Rs 1000 per day rent, 300 Rs per night for night stay, 10 Rs per km, Rs 750 for Drivers food/lodging per day


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