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Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary
Chandaka in a Nutshell
Spread over 193.39 sq.km of rolling table land and small sprawling hillocks of Khurdha and Cuttack Districts, Chandaka wildlife sanctuary, touching the fringes of the Bhubanesawar city is a treasure trove of biodiversity. Created in 1982 to essentially provide refuge to the meandering groups of elephants that form the dominant wildlife species here, Chandaka is a popular destination for solitude seekers, hunt for eco-tourists, laboratory for researchers and temple of learning for all. A hunting ground for wood smugglers till a couple of decades back, the forest cover has revived and the precocious bamboo and Sal trees cover the entire landscape of this “Pachyderm country” due to conservation efforts of the government. Consonant to the resuscitating forest ecosystem, the diminishing forest bio diversity has regenerated and animals like Leopard which were once considered extinct from this region, have reappeared once again. Proximity to the state capital alongwith the presence of a diverse range of flora and fauna makes it a favorite hunting ground for tourist who is on into tourism of Orissa.
Flora of Chandaka
The Chandaka wildlife sanctuary is known for a wide range of plants and shrubs that are found here. The floral diversity is distributed in 6 types of broad categories: secondary moist miscellaneous semi- evergreen forests, moist Kangada (Xylia xylocarpa) forests, Coastal Sal forests, thorny bamboo brakes (Bambusa bambos), planted Teak and Eupatorium scrub.Main tree species are Kochila, Kalicha, Bel, Kangada, Giringa, Sunari, Sal, Kumbhi, Jamun, Karanja, Teak and Sidha. Male bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus) has a very restricted distribution. Common medicinal plants of the sanctuary are Duramari, Baidanka, Brudhadaraka, Bhuinlimbo, Guluchi lata, Salparni, Satabari, Bhuin-kakharu, Indrajaba, Thalkudi, Apamaranga, Kurchi, Patalgaruda etc. A few species of ground Orchids, Ferns, Club mosses, Bryophytes and Lichens are distributed in shady wet pockets and rock escarpments.
Fauna of Chandaka
Elephant is the dominant species and symbolic to Chandaka. Meandering herds of the massive creature can be located easily inside the forest. Of late however the expanding population has proved to be a najor deterrent to the elephants of Chandaka.Leopard is in the apex of biological pyramid. Chital, Barking deer, Mouse deer, Wild pig, Common langur, Rhesus monkey, small Indian civet, Common Indian mongoose, Small Indian mongoose, Ruddy mongoose, Pangolin, Sloth bear, Ratel, Indian wolf and Hyena are other mammals of the area. Wild dogs can be seen occasionally. Prominent birds of the sanctuary are Peafowl, Red jungle fowl, Crested serpent eagle, Great horned owl, Black headed oriole, Paradise fly catcher, Coucal and stone curlew. Among reptiles, Rock python and Bengal Monitor lizard are quite common. Chameleon, Common skink, Indian flap shell turtle, Russel's viper, Bamboo pit viper, Common krait, Common vine snake, Kukri snake, Indian bronze back are indicative reptiles. Mugger crocodiles have remarkably adapted to large water bodies after their release. Chital or spotted deer, the most beautiful of all deer is commonly encountered in groups of 3-7 on forest roads, forest openings, grass lands, foreshore of water bodies and even near guard camps. Godibari, Kochilaberana, Ambokhali, Saunsha-berana, Mahuriabadi, Kumarkhunti, Jhalara, Ambilo and Saurabiula are places of good sighting success. People on Orissa tourism, make it a point to visit Chandaka to get a glimpse of this amazing variety of fauna.
Birds of Chandaka
The bird life of the sanctuary is no less significant. Kumarkhunti reservoir, in winter, serve as transient roosting and feeding ground for several migratory duck species, notably, Garganey and common Teal, Pintail, spot billed and bramhiny Duck and white eyed Pochard. Lesser whistling Teal, Dabehick, Cotton Teal, Nakta, lesser Cormorant, bronze winged Jacana, white breasted Waterhen, pied, white breasted and little blue King fishers and red wattled Lapwings are other resident birds around. Come July, and the surrounding barnboo brakes of the reservoir transform in to a heronry of water birds, mainly, open billed Storks, pond Heron, Egrets and Cormorants.
Butter Flies in Chandaka
Another beautiful creature that makes Chadaka wildlife sanctuary its home is the butterfly. A staggering variety of them is found in plenty in the forest lowlands in flowers, grasses and open fields. Common ones here are common Mormon, blue Mormon, common Emigrant, common Leopard, common Hedge Blue, Indian Crow, double banded Crow, common Sailer, common Bush brown, grey Pansy and peacock Pansy.
Watch Tower in Chandaka
Viewing the animals unnoticed when they are busy leading their own life is a luxury which seasoned wildlife experts have access to. To provide the same virgin experience to eco tourists many watch towers have been constructed in the forests periphery.
While Kochilaberana, Pitagadia and Charichhak watch towers are excellent for observation of birds and animals, the ones at Kumarkhunti and Amblio have the comfort of rest houses where one can make a night halt and have a date with wild animals and birds without disturbing them.
The Kabaries, claiming ancestry with Jarasabar (sawar) the first worshiper of 'Lord Jagannath' in shape of Brahma(Wooden idol) are unskilled tribal who inhabit the forest. About 455 families resident live in the periphery of the sanctuary. They practice subsistent and marginal agriculture and also earn a livelihood by collection and sale of firewood, bamboos and charcoal. A good deal of them is excellent animal trackers and herbal healers.
With so many things at its coffer, a trip to Chandaka forest is something that is worth a relish for any eco-tourist. The best time to visit the region is between November to May.
Special Attractions of Chandaka
- Trekking on animal trails with expert trackers
- Cycling through jungle track (with guide)
- Hill climbing (with guide) Bird watching (with guide)
- Elephant ride through jungle track.
- Camping in watch towers deep inside forests
- Censuring elephants/leopards in summer (with prior arrangement)
- Jungle patrol
- Elephant drives (during crop season with prior arrangements).
near water hole, sampling local delicacies
With all these added attractions, Chandaka wildlife sanctuary proves to be a major tourist destination in the wildlife tour of Orissa.