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Bhitarkanika

An exquisite biodiversity combined with beautiful terrains and a Mangrove dominated ecosystem is what Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, is comprised of. Bhitarkanika group of islands in eastern India in the Kendrapara District of Orissa state offers not just great beaches but exciting trekking trails through forests teeming with wildlife and some thrilling boat rides.

Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is nearly 3.5 hours drive from Bhubaneswar (150 km), 3 hours drive from Cuttack (120 km), and nearly 6.5 hours drive from Kolkata (approx 300 km).

In 1975, an area of 672 km² was declared the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary with a core area of 145 km², declared Bhitarkanika National Park in 1998. The Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, which bounds the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary to the east, encompasses Gahirmatha Beach and an adjacent portion of the Bay of Bengal. Bhitarkanika Mangroves were designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2002. Mangroves are spread all over the entire 672 km² area of the Sanctuary including the wet and the marshy lands. The park was established with objective of conversation of endangered salt water Crocodile.

Bhitarkanika Wildlife sanctuary is the most fascinating Mangrove Eco-System in India with 70 species of Mangrove and 215 species of avifauna. It is home of India's largest remaining population of the endangered Indian salt water crocodile.

More than 50 migratory bird species from the central Asia and Europe nest into the mangrove area of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife sanctuary during the winter. It is the only place where one can find eight species of kingfisher. Woodpecker, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Brahmany Ducks, Sea Gull, Hornbill, Bar Headed Geese etc are other avifauna of the region.

The Garhimatha beach is famous for the nesting ground of Olive Ridley turtles, who come ashore every year between January and March for laying eggs.

Trekking routes within the forest are rewarding experience. It´s quite a possibility you can watch a crocodile pulling a deer or a buffalo into water. You may come across some of the most captivating reptiles such as Indian rock python, King cobra or even giant Water monitor lizard,

Boating can be just so amazing in the rivers. Boat ride during sunrise and sunset to the point where river meets sea presents wonderful views and offers chance to get close to birds.

The best time to visit Bhitarkanika National Park are in the months from October-February. Visit to Buddhist sites of Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udaygiri can be combined with Bhitarkanika which are about 70km from the sanctuary.