Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Entrance of Debrigarh Sanctuary at Dhadrokusum

Tandoori Chicken….Fish Fry…..Bon Fire…Clear Moonlit Sky with Twinkling Stars…distinctive tremulous eerie call of Mottled Wood Owl amidst dark silent night…Roar of Leopard from a far off place indicating that a night game going on….and a cool breeze from Mahanadi……life is beautiful isn’t it???????Yes, this was what we did at Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary. One of the less heard sanctuaries in Orissa but the best in terms of wildlife. Forests are quite virgin and unexplored. We started our journey from Kansbahal at 3’o clock in the evening and reached Burla at 7:00 in the evening. On the way did pick up the entire ration which included all vegetables and chicken. Remember that meat is not allowed inside the sanctuary. As we were supposed to stay at Dhudrukusum Forest Cottage which is the entry point of the Sanctuary,we were allowed to carry Chicken. Since people know little about Debrigarh ,no one at Burla was able to give information about the road to Dhodrukusum. Luckily we were able to get in touch with the Forest range officer stationed at Dhudrokusum who had booked the cottage for us. Driving on the dykes of Hirakud reservoir we reached Dhudrokusum. Never expected the Forest Cottage to be so cozy and comfortable.

Preparing Tandoori Chicken at Dhadrokusum Forest cottage

There were also two local guys that our Range officer had arranged for us. They started preparing Chicken Curry for us as we prepared fire for Tandoori Chicken. Night was chilly and sky was clear and a paradise for Star Watchers. As it turned out to be, Tandoori Chicken that we prepared was fabulous. Talk about the forest and wildlife started with our nice Range officer. Typical animals found are Wild Bisons ( flagship animal of Debrigarh),Leopards, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Sloth bear, Wild boar, Langur, Percupine. Also lots of Peacocks are spotted in the sanctuary. Incidents about Leopards moving inside the cottage premises created a chill in our spines. There is also fear that Maoists may infest the Sanctuary in coming 2-3 years as there is continuity in forest over Orissa and Chattisgarh. Last count of Royal Bengal Tigers based on pugmarks inside the forest was 2, which is also quite alarming. As we started our dinner, a dog started barking standing near us….Signs of a big carnivore moving near by. Our ranger Mr Dilip Dash took us near the forest with his spot light. Pugmarks of Leopard were all around. But we could not see it. Retired early for sleep only to wake up at 5 in the morning.

Pugmarks of Leopard in front of our Cottage

In our jeep we were supposed to travel to Chaurasimaal Cottage about 21 kms from the entry point. One of the local forest official accompanied us since inside the sanctuary its only forests…forests…and nothing else. First animal spotted was a Wild Bison. Since Camera flashes distract animals, so as a true wildlife fan one needs to click pictures carefully and without flash.But I always think of my dream machine a Conon 1000D and good SLR lens. Had that been there with me I would have got some ggod shots. We could see some peacocks and Bisons in plenty. But contrary to our expectations we could not see Deers..unlucky. There are also some artificial salt licks inside the sanctuary.

Wild Bison/Gaur ...early in the morning

Driving all along backwaters of Hirakud, I saw the most amazing Sunrise till date. No words to describe it…only to be experienced. But be careful while taking these pics as you may suddenly meet a leopard standing and gazing at you.

Another pic of Sunrise inside Debrigarh Sanctuary...qualifies for my desktop

Peacocks on our forest road

Inside the Debrigarh Sanctuary

Driving through thick forests we reached Chourasimaal Forest Cottage. Then we trekked up to another point where we met a couple of Fisher men who have built small cottages inside the Sanctuary. Our wait there was not in vain as a huge 5 kg fish was caught for our Lunch. We returned back to Dhodrukusum and had some more fried Fish.

What a Catch?...our lunch

Infront of the cottage is the beautiful lake. Hirakud reservoir looks like a sea. Had some good time boating in the reservoir and clicked pictures that would remain in heart forever.

Can a place be more scenic?????

Come and fall in love with Debrigarh....

Crystal Clear Blue Waters of Hirakud Dam

Dhadrokusum Forest Cottage

In the evening said good-bye to all the forest staffs and drove back to Kansbahal.

The Sanctuary comprises two wildlife ranges namelyKamgaon and Lakhanpur.

A wireless communication system covering all important points within and around the sanctuary has been established. During emergency this communication network will usually be available to multi-day trekkers through the established base stations. At present the VHF Base Stations of the communication network in Debrigarh are located at places like Sambardhara, Lakhanpur,Chourishimal.
The Sanctuary entry point at Dhudurkusum adjoining Hirakud Reservoir is approximately 35 km from Burla town and about 50 km from Sambalpur.

Divisional Forest Officer,Hirakud Wildlife Division, Motijharan Po- & District: Sambalpur-768001 (Orissa)Ph. (0663) 2548743 (O/Fax)

Forest Range Officer
Lakhanpur Wildlife Range at Lakhanpur
Ph. (06646) 264241

Forest Range Officer :
Kamgaon Wildlife Range at Dhodrokusum.

Debrigarh during Freedom Struggle: A peak in the Barapahar hills in Bargarh sub-division having a height of 2267 feet. It was a noted rebel stronghold during the revolt of Balabhadra Deo, the Gond Zamindar of Lakhanpur, who was killed here. Mahapatra Ray and Baldia Ray also sought shelter here during 1840 AD after murdering Baluki Dash, the Maufidar of Bargarh. Veer Surendra Sai the freedom fighter was captured here in 1864 by British solders.

Source: Wiki

Leaning Temple of Huma

Leaning Temple of Huma

30 kms from Sambalpur is the Leaning Temple of Huma. On State Highway to Subarnapur ( Sonepur/Sonpur) is the Leaning Temple. Anecdote is that whenever people have tried to straighten it, but it tilts at an angle. Lord Vishwakarma constructed the temple in one night. Situated on the banks of river Mahanadi in the district of Sambalpur, people draw parallel between this temple and Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

Mysterious Fishes in Mahanadi river in Huma

Near the temple there are lots of fresh water fish in the river, which come to the surface to eat bread crump and biscuits. Anecdote is that all these are forms of various Gods who have decided to reside near the river. Never before I had seen such a scene though heard off.

Women selling Biscuits forMysterious fishes

And what happens if you try to catch them….one of the snaps will tell everything…Again anecdote is that you will become rock..that’s what happened to one of the village girls who became rock after catching one of the fishes. Over the period of centuries the rock has flown away. But people worship that Lady in form of a rock idol in one of the nearby islands formed in the river. Every year in Kali Puja, a small fare takes place on that island where one temple is also there.

 Tilt is quite distinctly visible

We sailed to that island and sat down under one of the shady trees just gazing at the Huma Temple on the other side of Mahanadi and gazing at the natural wonder….the angle at which temple is bent…

Hirakud Dam

Hirakud Lake..hard to differentiate between water and blue and serene

Road along the Catchment area...just look at the submerged hills in the back ground

After staying overnight at Jharsuguda,we left for Hirakud Dam in the early morning. Hardly 20 minutes drive from Sambalpur is the dam. Since,photography of the dam is not allowed from security point of view,I am posting the pics of the Lake...though its funny,,since Google earth gives a better satelite picture than my camera. 
Just imagine a tourist place on earth where one pass for taking the vehicle upto the dam costs Rs 1...yes 
you read it right...Just Rupees One...
Since,there are lot of techicalities and numbers associated with Hirakud Dam,I am posting some selected text from Wikipedia.

The Hirakud Dam is a composite structure of earth, concrete and masonry. Ten km north of Sambalpur, it is the longest major earthen dam in the world measuring 24km including dykes, standing across the river Mahanadi. The main dam has an overall length of 4.8km spanning between two hills; the Lamdungri on the left and the Chandili Dunguri on the right. The dam is flanked by 21km long earthen dykes on both the left and right sides, closing the low saddles beyond the ajoining hills. The dam and dykes together measure 25.8km. It also forms the biggest artificial lake in Asia, with a reservoir holding 743km² at full capacity with a shoreline of over 640km.

Cattle Island exists in one of the extreme point of Hirakud Reservoir, a natural wonder. It is near Kumarbandh village of Belpahar-Banharpali range which is about 90 km from Sambalpur. By motor launch from Hirakud Dam, it is closer by 10km via the river. The island is nothing but a submerged hill, and prior to Hirakud Dam construction, it was a developed village. Only cattle inhabit the island. During the resettlement period, villagers left some of their cows and bulls behind; when the dam construction was over the cattle settled down on the hill-top. By the passage of time the nearby area filled up with the reservoir water, turning the hill-top to an island. Being away from mankind, the cattle are now wild, very swift and not easily caught. Living on a hilltop with dense forest, they are larger than tame cattle. Almost all are white in colour. Nearby residents attempt to hunt these animals from time to time, but these hunts are rarely successful. Though descended from tame cattle, these animals provide a contrasting picture of this breed of animal returning to life in the wild.

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