Odisha is as popular as the land of Lord Jagannath and a state with a rich cultural and artistic heritage as for some amazing wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. One of them is the dense, dark, and enchanting Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary on the border of Bargarh and Sambalpur districts.
It is nestled along the Hirakud reservoir and the adjoining Barapahad hills in Bargarh district, covering an area of 353.81 sq km. Boasting of a rich flora and fauna, this mixed deciduous forest stretches across the Lohara and Debrigarh Reserve forests. The sanctuary was established in 1930, and it encloses the Kamgaon and Lakhanpur wildlife ranges.
During monsoon, the sanctuary turns heavenly as the water body tumbles down the hills in a grand waterfall, attracting many tourists.
Some of the animals commonly spotted at the sanctuary include the tiger, leopard, sloth bear, chital, sambar, and nilgai. Besides, a host of resident and migratory birds like the crested serpent eagle and chousingha add to the charm of the place. And the mugger crocodiles add to the thrill of the wildlife vicinity. The major attraction, however, is a herd of around 500 endangered four-horned antelopes.
It is an important in-situ wildlife conservation site in Odisha.
What makes Debrigarh special, is its historical significance. It is said that freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai hid himself in the forests on Barapahar hills during the freedom struggle, and fought a war against the British. The Englishmen caught him from his hideout later.
The four villages of Debrigarh, Jhagadabehera, Lambipalli, and Mundakati are the hub of tourism in the area.
November to April is the best time to visit the sanctuary to enjoy a lush, bewitching experience. There are eco-tourism cottages at Barkhandia as well as Forest Rest Houses at Dhodrokusum, the entrance of the sanctuary, and Dechua. The rooms are available at reasonable prices.
Hirakud Dam- About 15 kilometers away from the sanctuary, Hirakud is the longest earthen dam of the world on the eastern side of the sanctuary. This man-made lake, largest in Asia, covers an area of 746 sq km and has a shore line over 640 km.
Winters are special here with a large number of migratory birds flocking to the reservoir. The breathtaking view of the dam can be best enjoyed from atop Gandhi Minar, a revolving minaret.
One of the most popular sites in the sanctuary is the Ushakothi waterfall and there are boating facilities available as well.
By Road- One can enter the sanctuary premises of Debrigarh through Dhodrokusum by Hirakud reservoir. It is situated 60 km from Baragarh and 40 km from Sambalpur town.
By Rail- Sambalpur railway station is the nearest, from where one can take a cab.
By Air- Bhubaneswar aiport is the nearest, from where one can either take a train or a cab.
All Pictures Courtesy: wildlife.odishagov.in