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.