We have heard a lot about Konark and its magnificence and about Puri and its famous Chandan yatra festival and golden beach. But equal in magnificence is a wildlife sanctuary that shares the glory of these two places and a part of its geography too – the Balukhand -Konark Wildlife Sanctuary. Home to the famous and near-extinct black buck and spotted deer and, hold your breath – to the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, the Balukhand Wildlife Sanctuary is one of those places that must feature on your bucket list and soon. If you haven’t revisited your bucket list recently, then we promise you, you are going to do this in the next two minutes after you have read this post about Balukhand Wildlife Sanctuary and the sheer wildlife wonder it holds in its precincts.
Where is this Balukhand Wildlife Sanctuary?
Balukhand-Konark Sanctuary is, as the name suggests, in Odisha (Orissa) in Baragarh district in Sambalpur. This place is at a distance of 40 kilometres from Odisha, about an hour’s drive from there. One can approach the sanctuary from Konark as well as Puri, as it is located on the coastal stretch or the Marine Drive, as it is called, between Konark and Puri. Also, visitors have to plan their stay in Konark or Puri as the Sanctuary does not have accommodation facilities within its area. While you’re visiting Puri, make a day trip out to the Baliharachandi beach.
The Balukhand Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 72 sq.km. and extends from Banki Muhan near Puri to Keluni Muhan near Daluakani. The Sanctuary is home to a variety of flora and fauna and the sandy tract on which it was established in the home to Casuarina and cashew plantations. The entire area is marked as an eco-sensitive zone. The Nuanai and the Kushabhadra are the two rivers that pass through the Sanctuary with the river mouths part of the area as well. The sanctuary plays a pivotal role in raising the agro-productivity of the region and helps in maintaining the fresh water table of the region. It has 30 plus springs, abode to hundreds of rare species. There are also wildcats, spotted hyenas and a cover of trees like tamarind, Casuarina, Anacardium, Karanja etc. Olive Ridley Sea Turtles nest on the beaches.
Best time to visit: Round-the-year
How to reach: The Balukhand – Konark Sanctuary is approachable from Puri and Konark.
The other must-dos: When you are in Puri, you are in the divine company of Lord Jagannath (you obviously have heard of the 200 ft tall towered Jagannath Temple), the golden beach of Puri, arts and crafts at the Raghurajpur Heritage Crafts Village and the sunset cruise on Chilika Lake.
The Rath Yatra: The Jagannath Rath Yatra is an annual yatra also called as the Chariot Festival and is the most-awaited festival of Odisha and the rest of the country as well. Come June/July and the atmosphere starts humming with expectation, energy and vibrancy, waiting eagerly for the festival, which is dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna), his sister Goddess Subhadra and his elder brother Lord Balabhadra. It is said that the during this time, Lord Jagannath wishes to visit his birthplace Mathura and hence embarks on the journey. If you can time your holiday to Puri around this time, you will be able to experience one of India’s biggest religious festival.
The Sand Arts beach Festival in Puri: This is famously known as the annual beach festival of Puri that takes place in November-December. The highlight of the beach festival is the sand art by the world-famous artist Padma Shri Sudarshan Pattnaik. Puri is also a proud host to his institute that promotes sand art.
What not to do when you here: Follow the rules of the eco-sensitive zone, do not litter, and stay sensitive to the wildlife.
Commit to a great holiday
A wildlife sanctuary is a different kind of holiday. It is an investment in understanding more of the wildlife, their habitat. It is a commitment to protect, preserve and uphold the wildlife. It is a commitment, even if, silent, to lay the road for a better planet, where co-existence among all beings is valued, lived and practised.
Take a vow to make the best of your holiday in the Balukhand-Konark Sanctuary. And make it the best time for the wildlife and its protectors.
If you are itching to book your holiday, first make sure you book a nice place to stay at the Sterling Puri resort. Wishing you one of your best holidays ever. See you at the Balukhand- Konark Wildlife Sanctuary!