Similipal National Park is home to an abundant variety of flora and fauna. The sustaining factor in the national park is the perennial streams that run through the forests. The majestic forests with Sal trees are thrown in sharp contrast to the seemingly endless grasslands, providing views of the wildlife rarely visible to visitors.
If wildlife is not a reason enough to visit Similipal National Park, the waterfalls located within can sway even the hardest of hearts set on visiting concrete jungles only. The Barehipani and Joranda waterfalls are gorgeous and provide a natural look-out to spot the wildlife going about their day.
Tracking the footprints of the tigers, the bison and the elephant is an activity that one can never be tired of. The fauna at Similipal National Park includes elephants, tigers, bison, deer, bear, otter, mouse deer, wild boar, ruddy mongoose, flying squirrel, sambar and barking deer amidst numerous others.
Khiching is a temple town since the ancient era. The city has served as the capital for the Bhanj dynasty from the 9th to the 12th century AD. A continuing tradition of art, architecture and culture give Khiching the aura of a city lost in time. The rulers of the Bhanj dynasty fondly and fervently worship Maa Kichakeshwari who is also known as Khijingeswari.
The temple of Maa Kichakeshwari in Khiching brings a large number of tourists to Mayurbhanj. The temple that had seen numerous rulers bow their heads in prayer was destroyed and forgotten for a short period of time. It was restored by the Bhanj dynasty ruler Maharaja Purna Chandra Bhanj Deo and his brother Pratap Chandra Bhanj Deo in 1925.
A museum near the temple holds several artifacts and idols that were found during the restoration efforts. The best time to visit would be during Shivaratri as the festival sees a seven day celebration in Khiching.
Deokund, also referred to as Devkund, literally translates as the bathtub of the Gods and Goddesses. Located nearly 60 km outside of Baripada, the place does have ethereal qualities that justify the name it has been given. Festivals are celebrated with a fervor that is peerless in Udala, a town 25 km away from Deokund.
Makara Sankranthi, the harvest festival celebrated in January is the best time to visit Deokund. The festivities and fairs in Deokund infuse a spirit of celebration into the hearts of all the visitors. The scenic views from the elevation at Deokund are sought after. The views are known to infuse a sense of calm distance between the humdrum of everyday and the spiritual quietetude.
The Deokund Ambika temple perched atop the waterfall provides panoramic views of the surrounding area. The idol of Maa Ambika has however been moved to the Ambika Temple located in Baripada, Mayurbhanj.
Baripada is the district headquarters of Mayurbhanj. Simlipal National Park is located within Baripada. Baripada is also the cultural headquarters of Mayurbhanj as numerous practitioners of the Mayurbhanj Chhau dance call Baripada home.
The dance unfolds on the stage, the liveliness of the dancers and the visitors should not miss witnessing a live performance of the classical martial dance form. The tradition of the chariot festival or Ratha Yatra is a large part of the identity of Baripada. After Puri, Baripada sees the largest celebration of the Ratha Yatra festival in honor of Lord Jagannath. The city is also known as the second Puri in Orissa.
The chariot of Maa Subhadra in Baripada is pulled only by devotees who are women. The Jagadhatri mela is a celebration in honor of Maa Jagadhatri, the Goddess of the world. Baripada in essence is a celebration of life and culture with a spirit that stays with you long after leaving Baripada.