Need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life to ring in the New Year with your loved ones in an unostentatious yet memorable way? Poof! Wish granted. The Telegraph draws up a ready reckoner for you to explore five serene getaways in Odisha
Why go there: It’s the best place to enjoy the natural world during early winter. The tempting lush green environs, winding trekking stretches and wildlife will make it worth the visit. It has a well-maintained forest rest house including the former Maharaja’s hunting rest houses within the national park.
Speedometer: It has two entry points - Jashipur and Pithabata - which are 300km and 320km from Bhubaneswar.
Getting there: Reach Baripada or Jashipur and obtain the entry permit from forest officials. Ensure that you travel by traditional jeeps or SUVs as the roads are not black topped. You need to pay extra dues for vehicle entry and camera.
Must-haves in your backpack: Winter garments, food provisions (forest staff also can cook for you), water bottles, camera, binoculars, torch.
Look forward to: Waterfalls, diverse animals, orchids and a relaxed stay in the silent valley of Odisha.
Beware: Don’t try to explore “no-entry” zones and elephant corridors, or the river and streams in case it rains.
Pocket pinch: Stay would come to around Rs 1,000 per person a day, including food.
Visitors say: “More facilities like Lulung near Pithabata entry point should be developed to accommodate more tourists. Private transport operators are also charging high charges per trip and so, forest officials need to draw up a plan for the benefit of tourists,” said Mrutyunjay Tripathy.
SATKOSIA TIGER RESERVE, ANGUL
Why go there: Embrace nature at its best from your tents along the banks of the Mahanadi river. It is famous for its deep forests, nature camp and trekking.
Speedometer: 160km from Bhubaneswar and 58km from Angul.
Getting there: You can reach Satkosia from Bhubaneswar in SUVs, but the efficiently managed Satkosia Wildlife Division provides online booking too. Call 08763102681 for better service.
Must-haves in your backpack: Woollen garments, water bottles, binoculars, camera, iPod. Don’t worry about food. The forest rest house has a good eatery.
Look forward to: Nature camps, trekking and nature trail and an alluring view of the Mahanadi river and the Satkosia gorge.
Beware: Avoid places that have no entry or where tourism activity is banned (in the core area). Do not carry polythene.
Pocket pinch: Stay per day will involve an expenditure of Rs 1,000 per person per day, food included. Stay inside the tent is on twin-sharing basis.
Visitors say: “Boating facility should resume to attract tourists. There is also a need for an interpretation centre,” said Bijay Kumar Mishra
Why go there: The beauty of the entire hill range and the picturesque 5-km flat surface atop the mountain from where the ‘M’ shaped peak starts to form the highest peak will remain etched in your memory forever. The Deomali Peak could be the highest mountain in the state, located 1,672 metres above the mean sea level.
Speedometer: 500km from Bhubaneswar, 200km from Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
Getting there: One can reach Koraput by train and then go to Similiguda (30km) where there are budget hotels and inspection bungalows for stay. From Similiguda the peak of Deomali is just 30km away.
Must-haves in your backpack: Winter garments, camera, music player. You will find food at the hotels.
Look forward to: The chilling weather condition brings an experience of snowfall, especially between 5am to 8am. The dewdrops will freeze you.
Beware: Return to Similiguda by evening. Polythene is a no-no.
Pocket pinch: After reaching Similiguda, you can take a vehicle for a trip to Deomali for Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 depending on the choice of vehicle.
Visitors say: “The Odisha government should develop a facility for tourists to stay in the valley of Deomali,” said Deepak Kumar Sahu.
Why go there: Literally meaning colourful sunset, Astaranga beach is a beautiful place for you to relish the sunrise and sunset.
Speedometer: It is 91km from Puri and 35km from Konark.
Getting there: Take a vehicle from Bhubaneswar, Puri or Konark.
Must-haves in your backpack: Light thermals and woolens, camera, finger food and soft drinks. Take food provisions and utensils too if you want to cook and eat there.
Look forward to: Magnificent view of the sea and nesting of Olive Ridley turtles and a mangrove path near the mouth of Devi river. It’s perfect to spend time with your partner.
Beware: Many areas are muddy or have quicksand. Do not go to faraway sites or unexplored territories without a guide.
Pocket pinch: Stay in Bhubaneswar, Puri or Konark can be arranged between Rs 1,500 and Rs 7,000, depending on your budget. Vehicle charges will come to around Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,500.
Visitors say: “The interpretation centre should have better seating facilities for visitors. There is a need to install more dustbins and create proper sites for picnickers to cook,” said Himanshu Sekhar Patra.
Why go there: Breathtaking waterfall on the border of Sundergarh-Keonjhar district. You can also relish the tourist sports in and around Rourkela.
Speedometer: 470km from Bhubaneswar, 100km Rourkela.
Getting there: One can reach Khandadhar from Rourkela and stay there or even in Bonai, a historical town within 20km away from Khandadhar falls.
Must-haves in your backpack: Winter garments, towels, extra pair of clothes, camera.
Look forward to: Vedyas, Indira Gandhi Park and Hanuman Vatika in Rourkela. If you want to spend more time near the waterfall, stay near Bonai and march ahead for a trekking experience.
Beware: While trekking in the hilly areas or climbing the rocks.
Pocket pinch: After reaching Rourkela, your stay will cost around Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 depending on the place you choose to be in. Extra charges for hiring vehicles.
Visitors say: “The tourism department should launch a campaign to popularise Khandadhar and take steps to maintain its ecological balance to ward off rumours about mining the hills,” said Soumya Ranjan Mahakul.
Text: Bibhuti Barik,
Pictures: Ashwinee Pati and Uttam Kumar Pal