On a cool morning in the month of December we took the train to Sambalpur. The winter had just arrived in Bhubaneswar, though it was not cold enough for wearing a jacket yet. On this trip we were travelling with one of our close friend Aditya, who also happened to be a native of Sambalpur, now settled in Bhubaneswar.
Our journey started without any hassle, we had some sandwich with tea for breakfast in the train. The journey was peaceful, we passed many villages and some towns during our six hours train ride to Sambalpur.
Sambalpur is situated in the western part of Odisha, and is one of the largest and oldest cities of the state. This place is well known for its textiles and temples. But more famous for the presence of the world’s longest earthen dam and Asia’s largest artificial lake, Hirakud. We were headed to Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary, located next to the backwaters of the dam.
We reached Sambalpur around twelve in the afternoon and hired a vehicle to go into the city. The hunger pangs had kicked in by that time so we quickly settled for a place to have lunch. After helping ourselves with biryani and some delicious kebabs, we started our hour long drive to the sanctuary.
Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary is encircled by the Hirakud reservoir, which is one of the largest man-made lakes in Asia. In order to reach the place one has to drive though the right dyke of the Hirakud dam. It is a beautiful stretch of scenic road flanked by the reservoir on one side and green grasslands on the other side.
The moment we reached the dyke all the tiredness of the day’s journey disappeared, we were welcomed by a swarm of migratory birds flying overhead our vehicle. By that time it was late afternoon and the birds were settling themselves in the cool water of the reservoir. We saw a raft of ducks in the water. A colony of gulls was flying over the far corner of the lake gradually moving towards us. After spending some time observing and taking pictures of the birds, we resumed our drive to the sanctuary.
In about ten minutes our destination arrived. The sanctuary is very well maintained and serves as a perfect relaxation spot for many visitors who wants to escape the busy and noisy life of the cities. After reaching the sanctuary we waited in the lobby/ dining area while our rooms were being prepared. From the dining deck one can see the whole back waters of Hirakud. The accommodation premises has five cottage-style rooms to serve as stay for its guests; these rooms are well furnished and are equipped with all the necessary amenities. The food is good and available on order basis. We had tea and snacks while we were waiting and enjoyed the view of the lake from the dining area. Soon after we were shown to our rooms and we rested for a while. Then we got ready and started for the afternoon drive inside the sanctuary.
Within half an hour of our drive we encountered a herd of Indian Bison or Gaurs. The sanctuary is known to have a good population of these animals along with Indian Leopard, Indian Elephant, Chousingha, Sambar, Chital, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar and Jackals. As we drove deeper into the forest we saw many birds, heard the alarm call of Sambar and also spotted a Sambar happily grazing some twenty feet away from our vehicle. We saw Chital as well. Soon the sun began setting so we had to turn back. On our way back we spotted a Nightjar sitting in the middle of the road. We spent some time watching it and then when it moved we resumed our ride back to the guest area.
After having some snacks, we relaxed in the dining area. We decided to take a walk within the premises. It was very peaceful. The sound of the cicadas echoing in the forest made for such a beautiful music to our ears. Our walk took us towards the gate of the premises where the guard told us that the camera trap had recorded the sighting of a leopard near the very gate we were standing, couple of days ago. That news got us excited and curious, so we went to the office area to see if they had the images of the recent sightings and to our surprise we saw many such images of animals frequenting the area around the campus.
After a nice dinner, we called it a night. In the morning we had coffee on our balcony and decided to take a walk around the premises again. It was our last day here so we decided to take our time and just relax before leaving for Sambalpur.
On our way back, we saw a raft of duck in a lake close to Burla. Though the trip was a short one it was a good way to relax and rejuvenate the mind. Thankfully, travel does that to you.
One does not need to travel to far off exotic destination complete with luxury and adventure options to get the ultimate travel experience. Sometimes it’s just the simple pleasure of travelling from one place to another that can enrich your soul and fill you with a new-found love for one’s life as well as oneself.
Hope you find that too…