"Nothing exists for itself alone, but only in relation to other forms of life" ~ Charles Darwin


Tigers at Simlipal, Orissa

Subhasish Chakraborty, a wildlife enthusiast and environmentalist, shares his deep concern for the tigers' dwindling numbers.

Tigers are elusive, and their numbers are dwindling fast enough to sound alarm bells in the ears of wildlife conservationists. So to be on the trail of the tiger is not only to be adventurous, but also to share a worldwide concern, as we discovered on our trip to Simlipal, in the heart of the Mayurbhanj district of Orissa.

In an area of 2,750 sq. Kms of dense tropical forest, with flora ranging from semi-evergreen to dry decidious, the lush green vegetation here is ideal camouflage for wild creatures. Stately sal trees with Sauthali women foraging for bark and twigs for firewood are quintessential images of Simlipal.

Not many animals lurk on the forest's periphery, but as one goes deep into Simlipal, one comes across birds and spotted deer, and the shrill cries of Cheetahs and the barking of the Muntjacs reverberate in the deep jungle. From May to June, Simlipal is a Mecca for orchid lovers with 87 varieties identified inside the park. Orchids of the most exotic varieties bloom here. Fox-tail orchids are by far the most spectacular with foot-long chains that hold hundreds of translucent flowers.

About Orissa

Wildlife Travelogues
Corbett Park

More on Wildlife
Sanctuaries & Parks

Poachers' Paradise
Cruelty to Animals


Simlipal has soaring daytime temperatures and pleasant evenings. The ruggedness of the place is most palpable at the Ramtirtha Crocodile Rearing Center where crocodiles are scientifically reared.

Tiger tracking in Simlipal is all about finding answers to basic questions like, how many tigers can live in a particular forest? What kind of prey do they feed on? How long do tigers live and above all, how are they responding to man-made changes in their environment?


Perched 15 feet up in the fork of a tall jungle tree, the tiger tracker waited for hours, dart gun in hand. Sunlight filtering through the leafy canopy created a harlequin pattern of light and shade in the thick bush below. The muted curses of the park ranger could be heard directing his team of trained trackers, to push their way through dense bamboo where a tiger, satiated after a kill, was sleeping off a meal.

In slinking away from the elephants, the cat may head in the direction of the waiting tracker. If he does, he will face a 3 feet barrier of white cloth, strung taut across the bushes. Although the 500 lb, lethally armed predator could effortlessly rip through the flimsy stockade, the stark white cloth against the green of the jungle will make him wary, and he will most likely search for a way out. If the plan works, the tiger will eventually emerge through a 50 feet opening in the quarter mile long tunnel beneath the tracker's perch, offering a chance to shoot the tranquilizing dart.

Obviously, before you go tiger tracking and monitoring, you need to come fully prepared. Have plenty of time on hand and make your plans known well in advance to the Field Director, Simlipal Tiger Reserve, who in turn, can make the necessary logistical arrangements for you.


At Simlipal, there are countless licks, some natural and some manmade, where the wild creatures often come for the intake of essential salts. These licks serve as "energy reservoirs" for the animals who come here whenever their spirits are low or if they fall sick. Some of them are artificially created by the forest staff to attract animals. If you can find them with a trained naturalist, your chances of sighting the big cats improve dramatically.

The one jungle activity that Simlipal doesn't encourage is elephant rides, in spite of possessing a large number of tuskers. But there are other numerous attractions to keep you going. Besides tigers and elephants, Simlipal has a large population of sambar, spotted deer and wild boar. Sighting deer and sambar is very easy as they can be found grazing near marshy grasslands. The restless ones can be seen meandering across the game track as you pass in your vehicle.

wildlife apart, Simlipal will take your breath away with it's majestic waterfalls. The spectacular Barhipani falls with a fall of 400 m was one of the reasons why we checked in at the Barhipani Falls View log cabin. Strategically located, it offers many vantage points from where the grandeur and the sheer stillness of the falls are visible. Also, after a day out in the wild, you can come back to a resting place which is truly rustic. Built in Victorian style, the bungalow offers laid back relaxation. The staff is warm and friendly and will only be too happy to lay out a sumptuous meal for you before you retire for the night.


Simlipal is the richest watershed area of Orissa and perennial rivers like Buddha Balanga, the Khadke, the Khairi-Bhandan, the Salandi and the Sanjo flow through it, re-creating a water spectacle which only a few wildlife parks in India can match.

If you have your own four-wheel drive vehicle and have made your reservations with the Field Director, well in advance, you can relax and enjoy your wildlife adventure. You still need to get entry permits. Also, do not expect top-end jungle hospitality in Simlipal, though you can be assured of comfortable bungalows, hygenic food, clean toilets and breathtaking views. The terrain inside is very demanding and one simply can't rule out losing track of one's game trail since the wayside attractions are to strong to resist. To be able to stick to the beaten path is easier said than done and only the very experienced manage to do so.

Food is hygenically prepared and delicious indeed, at the forest rest houses dotting the Simlipal landscape. In winter, the huge crackling log fire provides a place to relax over a drink and discuss the adventures of the day gone by, before sitting down to a candle-lit dinner served by ever-attentive staff.

The Tiger is easily sighted thanks to excellent conservation efforts and the Tiger Shows on Elephant back which are a hit with the visitors. It is a common sight to see groups of tourists riding on the howdah (elephant back) and proceeding towards the deep forest where to witness the eternal wildlife drama unfolding in front of their naked eyes.

Getting There
The nearest town Balasore, 56 Kms, is accessible by rail from Baripada area of the Forest Reserve. By road from Calcutta, Simlipal is 220 Kms. The most convenient way to travel to Simlipal is by train from Howrah to Balasore. The journey takes six hours. Take a hired vehicle from Balasore to Simlipal.

Best season
The best season is from November to February. The park remains open for tourists from November 1, to June 15, every year.
Temperatures : 42 Degree Celsius maximum (May-June_; and -3 Degree Celsius minimum (December-January).

Reservation at the Forest Rest Houses and lodges can be done by post with a minimum of 30 days, maximum of 60 days in advance, specifying the name, age, sex of each member of the group, with the dates and full payment by Demand Draft in favour of Field Director, Simlipal Tiger Reserve, Baripada, Orissa.The other option is to book by going through a wilderness tour operator.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.