All About Odisha's Satkosia Tiger Reserve

A perfect habitat for tigers, leopards, elephants, sambars, this offbeat wildlife sanctuary near Bhubaneswar will hold you in thrall. Unwind, relax and rejuvenate in nature's lap
The gorgeous Satkosia gorge is surrounded by deciduous and peninsular forests
The gorgeous Satkosia gorge is surrounded by deciduous and peninsular forests

The Satkosia tiger reserve in Odisha was brought about in 2007 by merging two adjoining wildlife sanctuaries that were notified decades ago --- Satkosia, which spanned nearly 800 sq kms, and the much smaller Baisipalli. The Mahanadi elephant reserve is also a part of this area. The Satkosia gorge is nestled within the tiger reserve.

Today, the reserve's 964 sq kms spread covers four districts (Angul, Cuttack, Nayagarh and Boudh), with a core area of 524 sq kms. The setting by the mighty Mahanadi is made even more scenic by deciduous and peninsular forests, the habitat of tigers, leopards, elephants, gaurs, sambars, nilgai, sloth bears, mouse deer and chousinghas, with the gorge itself home to gharials, mugger crocodiles and rare fresh water turtles such as the Chitra indica and Aspidiretes gangeticus.

A basking tortoise along the river is a common sight in Satkosia
A basking tortoise along the river is a common sight in Satkosia

Biodiversity Hotspot

The name Satkosia comes from a narrowstretch on the Mahanadi, about 14 miles long ('sat' means seven, and 'kos' is a unit of distance measurement), where the river cuts across the Eastern Ghats, which in turn meets another biogeographic region of India, the Deccan Peninsula, to create an incredible biodiversity hotspot of great scenic beauty.

Tikarpada, Chhotakei, Purunakote and Badamul are particularly important sites for visitors. Tikarpada is where the reserve's eco-tourism activities are centred --- an interpretation centre, a gharial research unit, and nature trails and overnight camping experiences are arranged. Boating is permitted in a section of the river --- a particularly thrilling trip given the majesty of the gorge and the many crocodiles and turtles that can be seen sunning themselves on the sand banks.

Chhotkei is the site of a community-run nature camp with scenic views --- mud-bathing elephant herds are sometimes seen from here. Purunakote and Badamul are languorous meadows where chital and sambar graze, and big cats hunt. Sapapathar, a black granite outpost deep inside the Baisipalli sanctuary, approached only by a hike, is also a goodspot for sightings.

Best Time For Animal Sighting

Angul, the town nearest to the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve, is well-connected to the capital Bhubaneswar by rail and road (148 km/ 3.5 hours). Summer, which sets in fairly early from mid-February until mid-June. is undoubtedly the best time for animal sightings. Although the temperatures tend to touch the high forties with unbearable levels of humidity, winter months from November to mid-February are much more pleasant. During monsoon, there are chances of flooding in the area, particularly when the Hirakud Dam sluice gates are opened upriver.

The entrance of the tiger reserve from Angul
The entrance of the tiger reserve from AngulHemant Sahu Raj/ Wikimedia Commons

Nature's Magic

The Satkosia reserve's enchanting riverine location is best appreciated by staying onsite and exploring it at leisure. The sunrises and sunsets are simply gorgeous and if you are a photographer, you can get some captivating shots. Wake up to nature's magic as the soft rays of the rising sun creates a stunning colourful pattern on the river and the sky.

The forest department's eco-tourism initiatives attract a lot of visitors to the beautiful gorge. With a host of activities such as forest trail, boating and kaykaying, you will have lots of opportunity to experience the local flavour. The nature camps includes birding, trekking and boating.

The state government's Eco Retreat camps, where you get to stay in lovely tents amidst nature, are only organised during the winter months from December to February. Set along the river, staying in the tents give you a breathtaking view of the green hills. The beautiful property has all amenities, including play areas for children. You can also go cycling along the river to the nearby villages. The evenings are filled with entertainment programmes. Get all the information at https://www.satkosia.org/.

How To Reach

Satkosia is a three-and-a-half drive from Bhubaneswar, which is 162 kms away. Angul is around 60 kms away. Khurda Junction is the nearest railway station, at a distance of 88 kms from Satkosia. You can hire a taxi to reach Satkosia.

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