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Thread: Discovery of a Secret Beach and Unknown Forests->Western Orissa

  1. #1

    Discovery of a Secret Beach and Unknown Forests->Western Orissa

    All pictures are copyright of respective owners. Pictures by debankur and adc. Shot with Canon 400D and Canon S3 IS Powershot

    Discovery of a secret beach and unknown forests [Orissa]

    Each of us has a “secret beach.” Imagined or real, beyond the horizon, or just past the next rocky outcrop. It's a special place that exists at the edge of our world.

    And we found ours!! -- The secret beach
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    Fascination with the lesser known wildlife sanctuaries started after I visited the world famous Kaziranga sometime in 2006. Saw the rhinos and majestic water buffaloes but then as in any of the touristy wildlife sanctuaries one is bundled in a forest department's gypsy and you are made to roam around through some predefined paths, even the elephant ride though very much better had that predefined sense for me. As said we did see wildlife but then that thrill wasnt there, it was too regimented. And then by chance we visited also Pobitora wildlife Sanctuary, just around 50 km from Guwahati, but even very few people from Guwahati even told me much about it. It has the higesht rhino concentration in the world and you are free to roam around the sanctuary. The elephant ride is rough, one has to sit on the bare back but the very image of a rhino and an elephant sizing themselves up and then the elephant making the trumpeting noise to make the rhino to stand down will forever be etched in our memories.

    So thought about why not plan to see these lesser known sanctuaries for now where one can still drive's own car to any corner of the forest, stay in the middle of it, having some fantastic food/chicken/mutton cooked by the forest guards, and then after dinner one can still go out in one's car to the depth of the forests in middle of the night, and thats a lifetime experience.

    These lesser known forests will never remain the same as years go by, either they improve or decline depending upon a number of factors, the Corbetts, Kanhas, Kazirangas and like will have some status quo - so as much possible it is only the lesser known sanctuaries for me now.

    Anyway on that premise, covered 2 lesser known Orissa's sanctuaries last year - Kuldiha and Satkosia and the adventure and thrill was unlimited.

    With the 2008 year-end holidays, planned and charted, the route to go to other part of Orissa bordering Chattisgarh. Debrigarh, under Hirakud Wildlife Division, of Sambalpur district and Sunabeda forests near Nuapada were where we were headed to.

    Some highlights:

    *Whole night [9 pm to 730 am] travel along the eerily silent single carraige NH6 [Bombay road] and experiencing the "convey escort" of 14 km at Lodhashuli and then while coming back in daylight seeing the beautiful[scenic wise] ghat roads of NH6 of Orissa.

    *Around 350 km of just forest travel, across forests paths and grasslands [no roads/paths] to each and every corner of both forests.

    *Everyday midnight safari in Sunabeda Forest with a villager, and he having no idea how much space a Safari takes - showing roads that are at most cleared for

    *Found out the proverbial "secret beach" in the middle of the forests after a bumpy, undercarraige scraping, body tilting, journey for 2 hours through rocks, grasslands and undergrowths.

    *Sighted quite a few animals[wetland birds,sambhar, chowsingha, deer, cheetah, wild bear, wild boar] among these two sanctuaries, but only during dusk/late night.

    The ride - Safari Dicor LX 2.2 VTT-TMT

    The remotest being the Sunabeda forests, we were literally travelling on the forest grasslands and over shrubs and small overgrowths, not even on forest dirt roads, - the sideboards and the engine guard was scrapped quite a few times.

    Still not a single issue with this first batch, first of the lot Safari 2.2 - still now it has not let us down [we and our small child] in those forests
    either in the day or at night - these places were so remote [some part were of Naxalite territory] it would have taken at least 3-4 days just to take the Safari out of the forests.


  2. #2
    Day 0 and 1

    At first we [wife,me and our 4-year-old child] was what originally supposed to be but then two of my junior friends also accompanied us, thus making 4 occupants.

    So on Friday night, 26th of December, 2008, we started from Kolkata. Our planned stop for the first day, Dec 27th, was at Debrigarh, near Sambalpur, across the town of Burla.

    After having minimal amount of a sleep/rest in the afternoon, we started from Kolkata around 800 pm and leaving catching up the Kona expressway and then on to the NH6 around 900 pm. We went by Uluberia and Kolaghat fast and onto Kharaghpur. Now here we had a decision to make, whether to continue on the NH5 and better roads and with traffic and thus safety and then catch up the NH42 at Choudhar to go to Sambalpur or go straight on the single carraige all the way to Sambalpur.

    We stopped at a chai shop where we had some dinner packed up by wife and while having chai, I noticed that no private vehicles or even long distance buses taking the NH6 route, almost all were turning left for the NH5 road. A few trucks that were coming, I kept an eye on for a MH or CG or OR truck so that I can know like what the NH6 route is like and particularly at night. Last year did travel some part while coming from Angul to Kolkata on the NH6 and of course knew that till Baharagora [JH/OR border] it was tough and bad. But then what after that. It was okay till Palahara where one takes the diversion off NH6 to Angul and that was done by day.

    So then asked the driver of a CG truck and as per him route is okay, roads extremely desolate at night, convey at Lodhashuli for 14 km, and the absolute emptiness of Kanjipani Ghat. and said to take the NH5-NH42 road if okay with the extra journey of around 120-130 km but the time taken he said will be the same. But then that what caught my mind.

    After a whole lot of night travel [3 night travels of around 20-22 hours each] on the double way of NH2 while doing the HP tour, thought of experiencing a night journey through this road and also let me feel and experience whats the convoy like in the middle of the night. So after a quick glance to my fellow passengers and telling me we are taking the NH6 route, we headed right towards the darkness of NH6. Soon after crossing Kharaghpur, the double road transformed into a single road, very few vehicles as we headed towards the "convey area Lodhashuli"

    Lodhashuli has been notorious for years for being unsafe. This part of the NH6 while in Bengal goes through the sal forests of West Midnapore. As we neared Lodhashuli we came across a West Bengal Police barricade where we were waved down to stop. Found out that village boys are now manning these barricades, and two of them came up with us to escort us for the next 14 km inside the forest, a fee of Rs 20 was taken for the service. We then felt the power of all encompassing darkness, driving in a forest at night along with escort due to fear of dacoity, gave us the initial excitement for the day.

    These village boys carried only sticks and asked them about the place, they said that all is quiet for 6 months now and they ensure complete safety. The police has given these boys the duty of escort and since they took up the job of escorting those 14 km everything is as quiet and safe as any other highway. Having listened to some other stories, dropped them off at the other end of the barricade where some trucks were waiting to be escorted.

    Road quality till now was okay to good, however, it was becoming narrower as we approached Bengal/Jharkand border at Chichira [around 55 km from Kharaghpur] and soon those infamous roads around Chicira. This is no mans lands, no work has been done on the roads for long, craters are big sharp and all encopassing, tar is absolutely absent in that stretch.

    Jharkhand is now what Bihar was some years back. Highway road condition is bad, whether NH2 or NH6, and progress was slow. This continued till Jamsola check gate [JH/OR border] via Baharagora. Roads do improve as soon as we enter Orissa again and soon we pass Bangriposi and climb up the the Bangriposi Ghat road in the encompassing darkness. Roads are okay but as ghat roads they are narrow. When big trailers break down on these ghat roads, jams are inevitable as we had experienced last year but this is now dead of the night the same road is menancingly beautiful in the dark. A few trucks just went by every half hour or so but for the most part we were the only passenger vehicle that I saw till dawn broke out near Sambalpur. Road condition becomes very bad to just being okay and this continues till Jashipur and is okay till Keonjhar.

    After crossing Bangriposi ghat area, stopped at a lonely tea shop where we saw few truckers relaxing. Chatted up with one trailer trucker carrying some 20 tonnes of sponge iron above the limit to Bangladesh and waiting here for a phone call from someone at the Jamsola border, so that when the tax officer goes to sleep or takes break he will tell him to pass. He also reiterated that the road is okay and safe but again desolate and lonely, problem area before used to be the Kanjipani Ghat area, around 38 km from Keonjhar, and the Badrama Ghat area and going past the Badrama Forests, known for Naxalite presence but they dont block or do anything on the highway.

    Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary comprises of Lohara & Debrigarh Reserve forests of famous Barapahad Hills of Baragarh District. This sanctuary is not only famous for its magical beauty with magnificent waterfalls but is also very rich in wildlife. The dry deciduous forests with varied flora and fauna attract the tourists of Orissa and neighboring states.

    This sanctuary was transferred from Sambalpur territorial division to Badrama Wildilfe Division (now known as Hirakud Wildlife Division) in 01.10.1990. The sanctuary comprises of two wild life ranges namely, Kamgaon and Lakhanpur Wildlife Range.

    Debrigarh is a rare combination of variety of wild lands in proximity of a large reservoir, and this makes it a place worth visiting for every nature lover.

    NH6 Chai stops at late night

    Dawn near Sambalpur

    Along the Hirakud Dam towards Debrigarh WLS

    Debrigarh WLS


  3. #3
    Day 1 contd. - Debrigarh WLS

    Along the forest road

    Hirakud Dam water from Debrigarh Parbati Tang Area

    Parbati Tang Watch Tower

    Barakhandia Eco Tourist Cottages

    Came across these noisy langur troop, the long jumps from one tree to another

    Wetland birds near Chourismal FRH

    Saw sambhar, deer, and chowsingha during the forest travel crossing across the forest road but they were fast, may be visible for about 3-4 seconds - By the time I took out the camera they have vanished/merged into the forests. After having such similar incidents repeated, felt that in the attempt of taking a picture I am in fact missing out on the wildlife, so after that made no attempt at pictures other than the most hazy one that I took around dusk.

    These particular birds just came and planted on the road and would not budge till almost the SUV came on top of it, they were feeding on the insects attracted by lights.


  4. #4
    Day 2: Debrigarh WLS and visiting some villages nearby

    Across the village roads

    Visited the textile workers hamlet, Sambalpur

    Back to Debrigarh Forests, now to the remote part


  5. #5
    Day 2: Debrigarh WLS contd.

    On a rocky road to Ushakothi forest area on towards a small waterfall

    And then on to the grasslands

    And stopped at that rocky water area with stunning wilderness around

    And we check out of Debrigarh as dusk falls on day #2, again seeing some chowsingha as we traverse it.


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