The Satkosia Gorge
The Satkosia Gorge

The Satkosia Tiger Reserve Roadtrip

Satkosia Tiger Reserve, also known as Satkosia Gorge is located in Tikarpada in Angul district of Orrisa covering an area of around 1000 sq. kms. Through the reserve forest passes the Mahanadi River (the lifeline of the state) and forms a 22 km long Gorge. Satkosia is about 600 kms from Kolkata and 150 kms from Bhubaneshwar. It can be reached from Kolkata either by road via Cuttack and Dhenkanal, or by a train to Angul and then hiring a car from there. Satkosia Sands Resort – which had tenting facilities, and was run by the Orissa Forest Department, is the best place to stay in Satkosia Range. The newest and best accommodation for staying in Satkosia is the Satkosia Sands Resort.

The drive map for Satkosia from Kolkata via Dhenkanal is as follows:

However, information about the place was very hard to come by. I searched the internet, but information about the staying facilities, the way to reach the spot, road condition etc. was very scarce. The only place for all the information was the official website of Satkosia

http://www.satkosia.org/index.php

I went ahead and took the plunge – worst case we would need to stay in some uncomforting tents. Did not matter much. Bookings were done from the Orissa Forest Dept. website –

https://www.ecotourodisha.com/

The finalized plan was as follows:

  1. 20th January – Leave Kolkata very early in the morning and reach Dhenkanal via Kapilash.
  2. 21st January – start from Dhenkanal and reach Satkosia Sands Resort
  3. 22nd January – Trek in Satkosia Tiger Reserve and cruise the Mahanadi in the gorge region
  4. 23rd January – Leave Satkosia and reach back Kolkata

Kolkata to Balasore

As planned – we left for Satkosia from Kolkata in my trusted Ford Fiesta Classic around 4AM. Reached the first stop – A1 Food Plaza just outside Balasore around 8AM. This was our breakfast spot. The place was nice and clean – and we hung around in the lawn while breakfast was prepared. After filling ourselves with puri-sabzi, we hit the road once again.

Balasore to Kapilash Forest

From Balasore, the road is pretty straight till we reach Tangi. At Tangi, we left the NH45 and took the Kapilash Road. As expected, even the country roads of the interiors of Orissa are nicely paved. The road passed through some small villages before passing through the Kapilash Forest Range. We took a photo break inside the forest, and finally reached the Kapilash Temple around 12PM. The last few kilometers was a steep climb to the hill, and with 4 adults on board, the 1.4l TDCI showed its mettle. Even though the hairpins were quite steep, we reached the temple without much of a problem.

The Mahadev Chandrasekhar Temple or Kapilash Temple

The Mahadev Chandrasekhar Temple is located around 26kms from Dhenkanal town and is at a height of 2240 feet from MSL. King Narasinghdeva I of Ganga Dynasty constructed the temple for Sri Chandrasekhar in 1246 AD.

Hotel Nirupama at Dhenkanal

After a quick darshan, we headed for Hotel Nirupama in Dhenkanal. Hotel Nirupama is amongst the best staying options in Dhenkanal. Bookings for Delux Rooms were done online by contacting the hotel in advance.

Rooms were very nice, and well maintained. The food was also surprisingly good. This is a nice place to stay if a traveller is planning to halt in Dhenkanal.

Dhenkanal to Satkosia Tiger Reserve

Next day, we checked out from the hotel around 10AM, for our final leg of journey towards Satkosia. After a leisurely drive through the back roads, reached the Satkosia Sands Resort around 1PM. The route was not much of a hassle, as I was simply following Google Maps. This day also we climbed some ghat roads after crossing Hindol – but nowhere as close to the day before.

Satkosia Sand Resort in Tikarpada

Satkosia Sand Resort is in Tikarpada South (Badmul). This is a relatively new facility – inaugurated only in 2015. And the camping grounds are open only in the winters. When we asked why – the answer is simple – it’s too hot in summer, and infested with alligators in monsoon!

The resort has 8 tents, with attached bathrooms in everyone. There is a common dining area, and areas for playing badminton and beach volley ball. The location of the tents is on sand beds of the Mahanadi. However, to access the river itself – you need to walk on sand about 300m. The good part to it? You get to visualize an awesome sunset on the river bank!

The sunset beyond the hills
The sunset beyond the hills

We spent the afternoon playing (rather trying to play) badminton. Why trying? Thanks to the wind and the sand!

The evening was spent playing cards and enjoying some local version of onion pakoda and bamboo chicken. We also enjoyed the campfire just in front of the tent.

While the day was quite warm, we could feel a rapid decrease of temperature as the night progressed. By 4AM, the temperatures were such that even the blanket was not proving warm enough. We woke up from sleep early hoping to catch a glimpse of the rising sun. Unfortunately, the thick cover of mist played spoilsport.

Exploring the Tikarpada Forest Core Area

Breakfast was served around 9AM, after which we set out to explore the Satkosia forest a bit more closely. We drove another 5kms inside the forest towards the core areas. Crossed some small villages on the way and finally reached the gate of the core area. That was as far as a car was allowed.

We ventured some more into the core area of the Tikarpada forest range on foot. The dense jungle, the umpteen shades of green, and turquoise colors of Mahanadi just beyond the trees created a unique atmosphere. There was pin drop silence all around. It had a strange effect on all of us, and we suddenly realized that our voices had also gone down and we were speaking in a hushed voice. We spent the next few minutes absorbing the atmosphere surrounding us.

Mahanadi River Cruise

By noon, we were back to the gate of the core area of the Satkosia forest range. The Mahanadi River Cruise started from this spot. We booked the tickets and jumped in the boats. With the hills towering on both side, and the blue waters just beneath us, we cruised along. The gorge was a beautiful place. There was rich flora and fauna on both sides. A group of monkeys entertained us for some distance. Next we spotted some alligators. And off course, there were a variety of birds all over.

Post the boat ride, we came back to our tents. Afternoon was spent playing badminton once again. And evening was spent along the river bank, watching the magnificent sunset once again. This was the last day of this short trip.

The return journey – from Satkosia to Kolkata

The next day we woke up early and started our drive back home. Lunch stop, as always was at Dosti BPCL Dhaba in the outskirts of Chandikhol. The rest of the return journey is nothing special to write about. We reached back Kolkata by 9PM, while reliving the wondrous time spent in the last couple of days.

A tea break - somewhere in Bengal Orissa border
A tea break – somewhere in Bengal Orissa border
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