Have You Heard About Odisha's Green Secret?

Have You Heard About Odisha's Green Secret?
The Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary is home to bisons, buffaloes, leopards and more, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The picturesque Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary in western Odisha is a wildlife lover's dream. An overnight stay makes it worth your while

Uttara Gangopadhyay
February 27 , 2019
06 Min Read

Located in the western part of Odisha, the Hirakud Dam on the Mahanadi River, is about 20km north of Sambalpur town. The dam, along with its twin observation towers, Gandhi Minar and Jawhar Minar, are often visited as part of a day tour from town, especially between October and March. But hardly any one ventures along the right dyke of the bank that leads into a little known wildlife sanctuary. A halt at Zero Point offers a glimpse of the forest on one side and the reservoir on the other.

Perched on the bank of the dam’s reservoir, the Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary (earmarked in 1985) is one of Odisha’s prettiest. Home to leopards, elephants, gaur, wild boar, deer, a host of birds and other animals, the mixed vegetation forest is over 346 sq km in area. In winter, the reservoir attracts migratory ducks.

To enter the sanctuary, visitors have to obtain permission from the Dhodrokusum forest office located at the end of the dyke road. The forest may be explored on foot (with permission and accompanied by forest guard) and on vehicle safaris. The 20km long forest trek route that extends from Dhodrokusum to Chourasimal (20km) is known for its resident herd of gaurs. So one has to be cautious.

View this post on Instagram

Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary, an important site for in-situ conservation of wildlife and its habitat in the state of Odisha is home to an immense array of biodiversity, over 40 species of mammals, 234 species of birds, 41 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians, 42 species of fishes, 39 species of odonates, 85 species of butterflies and 38 species of spiders and extremely important in the national context because of significant population of Schedule-I species like Leopard, Indian Gaur and Four-horned Antelope. The fauna includes Indian leopard, Indian elephant, sambar, chital, and gaur. . Courtesy: @no_plan_rider _______________________________________ To get featured follow @eOdishaTourism and email / dm / tag / use hashtags #eodishatourism #exploreodisha on your picture perfect pics related to Odisha. _______________________________________ #debrigarh #sanctuary #wildlifesanctuary #cheetal #deer #pose #expression #wildlifephotography #wildlife #sambalpur #odisha #traveldiaries #instablogger #nomad #wanderlust #wanderers #natgeo #natgeotravel #natureclick #unexploredindia #incredibleindia #nature #intothewild #saveanimals #saveearth #instawildlife #instagood

A post shared by eOdisha Tourism (@eodishatourism) on Sep 11, 2017 at 9:01am PDT

While the sanctuary may be visited on a day tour from Sambalpur, at least an overnight stay at the Debrigarh Nature Camp operated by the eco-tourism division of Odisha Forest Development Corporation is worth the time. Located on the reservoir, the camp offers a fantastic view of the water. By day, watch the blue waters change their shade with the passage of the sun overhead. Go boating or watch the birds fly by. At night, the black water merges with the surrounding darkness. Far from the crowd, the nature camp is ideal for a quiet getaway.

Part of OFDC’s aim to promote community managed sustainable nature tourism, the camp is run by the local people. Odisha is known for its cuisine. So a stay here is also an opportunity to sample the local cuisine.

View this post on Instagram

#Debrigarh #Odisha #Debrigarh is the perfect destination for all the adventurers out there. If you want to experience the #wild in all its #glory, then this is the place to be. Spread over a sprawling area near the #Hirakund dam in #Sambalpur, this #wildlife sanctuary is dense with flora and fauna. The sanctuary is also known for the #waterfalls in the hillsides that are present there. The forest also has some interesting history as the freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai sought refuge in this dense forest to fight guerrilla wars against the British. #TheRoadLessTravelled #TRLT #Exploring the #Unexplored #India

A post shared by #TheRoadLessTravelled (@theroadlesstravelled.in) on Sep 6, 2017 at 11:06pm PDT

Although the forest department or the nature camp have no tourist vehicles available for safaris, they can arrange the same on request and separate payment. Remember, animal sighting is a matter of luck. However, most visitors are rewarded with sights of gaurs, deer, wild boar, peacocks and other smaller animals. If luck befriends you, you may spot some of the animals right outside the periphery of the camp. Hence, it is advisable not to go beyond the protective fencing around the premises.

In between safaris, you may also pay a visit to the remains of the Debrigarh or Fort of the Goddess. It is a reminder of patriot Veer Surendra Sai, and his soldiers such as Kamal Singh Dao and others, who waged a long battle against the British.

Getting there: Sambalpur is the most convenient gateway to Hirakud and Debrigarh WLS. The town is about 20km from the dam and 35km from the sanctuary entry gate. The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar, about 280km from Sambalpur by road. One may also travel by train to Sambalpur from Kolkata (Howrah) and Bhubaneswar. Details of entry charges, accommodation rates and online booking available at here.

Related Articles

The eccentric charms of...

Our Team October 28 , 2015

Current Weather

Odisha, India
Passing clouds. Mild.

24 C Today
Humidity: 83%
Wind: 3.71km/h


26 C


25 C


26 C

Our Other Editions

Outlook’ is India’s most vibrant weekly news magazine with critically and globally acclaimed print and digital editions. Now in its 23rd year...

Explore All
  • Check out our Magazine of the month
  • Offbeat destinations
  • In-depth storytelling
  • Stunning pictures
  • Subscribe