Simplipal National Park is one of the earliest wildlife habitats that was taken under Project Tiger and is located in the forest belt of northern Orissa. Formerly a favourite among the royals of Mayurbhanj district, the park set in an expanse of the fine Sal forest. Tourist can enjoy jeep safaris and explore the wild surroundings of Simlipal. The Simlipal Tiger Reserve, one of the country’s largest protected areas, is located in the Mayurbhanj district of Orissa. A forested, hilly terrain 200 km south-west of Kolkata, the reserve is endowed with an exceptional biodiversity. Its name derives from the abundance of semul or red silk cotton trees which bloom vividly in the first few months of the year. Of the reserve’s almost 1,000 species of flowering plants, 94 are orchids alone, many of which are on show at the small orchidarium at Gurguria.
Flora and Fauna:
This sprawling ecosystem, thanks to the mega conservation efforts, has close to a 100 tigers. Other mammalian species like leopards, sambhars, langurs, deer, gaur (Indian bison), elephants, antelopes, chitals, chevrotains, wild dog, wild boar, sloth bears, monkeys, hyenas and porcupines are also found here. There are around 230 species of birds in these forests. The ones officially recorded include the red jungle fowl, hill myna, peafowl, alexandrine parakeet, crested serpent eagle, gray hornbill, Indian pied hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill and Indian trogon. Most of these bird species may be spotted in the park. There is a sizable population of reptiles as well, which include snakes and turtles. The population of crocodiles has increased considerably since the inception of the Mugger Management Program.
Simlipal National Park is a floral treasure as well. It has close to 501 species of plants belonging to 102 families. Eighty-two species of orchids have already been identified here along with the omnipresent sal trees. Innumerable medicinal and aromatic plants are found as well that are a source of earnings for the local tribal population.
The beauty of the park brings the person into the state of hypnotic sleep. It is a god gift to this sanctuary. It would take several days to go around the park. The glory of the park is increased by the water falls, tribal settlements and mountain peaks.
Major Wildlife Attractions:
Three of India’s bigger animal species -Tiger, Asian Elephant and Gaur – are resident here, but the terrain and vegetation make sightings rare.
From the leafy canopy, the giant squirrel’s rattling cry merges with the din of the nearly 250 species of birds. Crocodiles and otters can be seen along the rivers. A captive-breeding project, the Mugger Crocodile Scheme at Jashipur, towards the north-west fringes of the reserve, aims to restore to Simlipal a viable population of the Mugger (Marsh Crocodile).
The sanctuary is home to many species of wild animals like Tiger, Leopard, Leopard-cat, jungle Cat, Wild Dog (Dhole),Wolf, Striped Hyena, Small Indian Civet, Patel, Sloth Bear, Asian Elephant, Gaur (Indian Bison), Sambar, Spotted Deer (Chital), Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Chowsingha (Four-horned Antelope), Indian Pangolin REPTILES Mugger (Marsh Crocodile), King Cobra, Rock Python . Here is an opportunity for the nature lover to study several species of birds, chief among which are the Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Changeable Hawk Eagle (above), Booted Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Dusky Eagle Owl, Brown Hawk Owl.
Best Time to Visit:
The reserve is open to tourists from 10th November to 15th June in every season.
How to Get there:
Air: Bhubaneswar Airport is situated 270-km from the national park. Other airports include Baripada, 330-km and Jashipur Calcutta Airport, 320-km. Baripada is located 280-km from Jashipur.
Rail: Balasore railhead is situated 56-km from Baripada and Tata railhead is 115-km from Jashipur.
Road: Baripada at 50 km is the nearest railhead from Jashipur, one of the two entry points to the Reserve Forest. Driving distance from Bhubaneswar is 250 kms, from Kolkata 300 kms, Balasore 160 kms, and Jamshedpur 115 kms.
General Info / Tips:
Set on the eastern sea board of India, Orissa has tropical monsoon type of climate like most other parts of the country.
The average temperature in the summers can be as high as up to 40° C. The winters are quite enjoyable with minimum temperature being almost around 16° C. During the monsoon season Orissa gets an approx. 1450 mm. of rainfall. The best time to visit the state is during the months of October to April.
Baripada (50 Kms.)
Tigers, Leopards, Elephants, Mugger Crocodiles