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Odisha

Indian Scimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii ©Michael Clark Website

Orrisa, or these days more properly Odisha, is a state located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It was established on 1 April 1936 as a province in British India, and consists, predominantly of Oriya speakers. 1 April is therefore celebrated as Utkal Divas (Odisha Day).

Odisha is the ninth largest state by area and the eleventh largest by population. Oriya is the official and most widely spoken language. Odisha has a relatively unindented coastline (about 480 km long) and lacks good ports, except for the deep water facility at Paradip. The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi River delta supports the bulk of the population. The interior of the state is mountainous and sparsely populated. Deomali at 1672 m is the highest point of the state.

Odisha is subject to intense cyclones. The most intense one, in October 1999, Tropical Cyclone 05B caused severe damage and some 10,000 deaths.

Odisha is home to the Hirakud Dam, one of the longest dams in the world. Odisha has several popular tourist destinations. Puri, with the Jagannatha's temple near the sea, and Konark, with the Sun Temple, are visited by thousands of tourists every year. The Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar, the Jagannatha Temple of Puri, the Sun Temple of Konark and the Barabati Fort of Cuttack are important in the archaeological history of India.

The capital of Odisha is Bhubaneswar. It is famed for its magnificent temples, numbering around a thousand. Cuttack, which is the former capital of Odisha is 29 km from Bhubaneswar. With the rapid expansion of two cities and better road connectivity, the two cities are now almost conjoined and considered as twin cities. The city of Puri is nearby, at a distance of around 60 kilometres on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Puri is a holy city and the site of the annual festival of the deity Jagannath. It is one of the four Dhams (holy places) of Hinduism. The world-famous ‘car festival’ (rath yatra) is celebrated in Puri.

The Chota Nagpur plateau occupies the western and northern portions of the state, while along the coast are fertile alluvial plains and the valleys of the Mahanadi, Brahmani, and Baitarani rivers, which empty into the Bay of Bengal. These alluvial plains are home to intensive rice cultivation. A major nesting ground for the Olive Ridley sea turtles can be found in the Beaches of Odisha; in Devi, Gahirmatha and Rushikulya are known nesting sites for the L. olivacea Indian Ocean population. In 2007, around 130,000 turtles nested on the beaches of Gahirmatha.

Although much of Orissa's forest cover has been denuded lately, one of the greatest attractions of Odisha is its still vast expanses of unspoiled natural landscape that offer a protected yet natural habitat to the state’s incredible wildlife. There are many wildlife sanctuaries in Odisha. The Simlipal National Park Tiger Reserve is a huge expanse of lush green forest with waterfalls, inhabited by tigers, elephants, and other wildlife. The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary has been protecting estuarine crocodiles since 1975.

Chilka Lake, a brackish water coastal lake on the Bay of Bengal, south of the mouth of the Mahanadi River, is the largest coastal lake in India. It is protected by the Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary, which harbors over 150 migratory and resident species of birds.

The highest mountain peak in the state is Deomali (1672 m), which is situated in Koraput district in southern Odisha. It is also the tallest peak of the Eastern Ghats. It is part of the Chandragiri-Pottangi mountain system. Location: 18°40'3"N 82°58'59"E

Owing to its salubrious climate, the state of Odisha has a 33% of its land covered by forests. Commonly classified into two categories namely tropical moist deciduous and tropical dry deciduous, these forests are the store houses of Bamboo, Teak, Rosewood, Sal, Piasal, Sanghvan and Haldi. The hills, plateaus and isolated areas of the northeastern part of the state are covered by the tropical moist deciduous forests whereas the second types of the forests are located in the southwest region of the state.

Out of a total geographical area of 155,707 km², the state of Odisha has recorded 52,472 km² of forest area. Whereas the actual forest cover as per the records of Forest Survey of India is 47,033 km². Upholding the best possible example of bio diversity, the state is home to about 7,000 plant species including 120 Orchid species and 63 varieties of Mangrove trees which make the state second largest mangrove ecosystem in India. Tremendous growth of the forests naturally accounts for a widespread habitat for various species of wild animals. The Red Data book of IUCN has recorded a total of 473 species of birds and 86 species of mammals, 19 species of amphibians and 110 species of reptiles including three crocodilian species. Out of these around 54 species in total are endangered.

The WWF identifies several terrestrial ecoregions in the state of Odisha. The Odisha semi-evergreen forests occupy the coastal plain and low hills in the eastern part of the state, bordering the Bay of Bengal. Monsoons from the Bay of Bengal and the ocean influence foster the growth of semi-evergreen forests, of which only 4% remain, the remainder of the ecoregion having been cleared for intensive agriculture and urbanization. The Lower Gangetic plains moist deciduous forests cover a small area of eastern coastal Baleshwar District, in the easternmost corner of the state.

The majority of the state is covered by the Eastern highlands moist deciduous forests ecoregion, which harbours forests of Sal Shorea robusta and other broadleaf trees. The Northern dry deciduous forests occupy an inland portion of the Mahanadi River basin, which lies in the rain shadow of the Eastern Ghats. The Chhota Nagpur dry deciduous forests, another dry forest ecoregion in the rain shadow of northern Odisha's highlands, lies mostly in neighbouring Jharkhand state, but extends into northern Odisha.

Mangroves can be found along Odisha's coast, notably the Bhitarkanika Mangroves and the mangroves of Chilika Lake. Orissa's mangroves are part of the Krishna-Godavari mangroves ecoregion.

Home to a variety of wild animals, the state has declared considerable tracts of land as areas protected for these animals only. These protected areas constitute 10.37% of the total forest area and 4.1% of the total geographical area of the state. Odisha has three mass nesting beaches of endangered Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, which makes it the largest nesting ground of the species. Chilika lagoon in the coast of Orissa is one of the largest habitats of Irrawaddy Dolphin. Odisha government conducting various programme to protect the species.

Tigers, leopards, lions and elephants, Wild Buffaloes, Capped Langur, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Gaur, Slow Loris, Barking and Spotted Deer, Sloth Bear Mongoose, Flying Squirrel, Porcupine, Turtle, Monitor Lizard, Python, Sambar, Pangolin, Crocodile and Four Horned Antelope also find shelter in the forests of the state. Not only the animals, but birds are also a very important constituent of the fauna of Odisha. With its lakes inviting huge numbers of migratory birds each year, the state is a real paradise of the bird lovers. Grey Hornbill, Indian Pied Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Indian Trogon, Red Jungle Fowl, Hill Mynah, Peafowl and Alexandrine Parakeet can be seen here along with some of the beautiful resident birds.

Contributor

Wikipedia

GNU Free Documentation License

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orissa

Number of Species

State Bird: Indian Roller Coracicas Benghalensis

Useful Reading

* Field Guides & Bird Song

For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering India as a whole - please see the main India page of Fatbirder

Useful Information

State Bird

'Blue Jay' [actually this refers to the Indian Roller]

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Reserves

Bhitarkanika National Park

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215 species of avifauna including eight varieties of Kingfishers. Birds such as Asian Open Bill, Cormorants, Darters, Black Ibis, Egrets, are frequently seen in the park…

Chandaka Forest & Elephant Reserve

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…Prominent birds of the sanctuary are Peafowl, Red jungle fowl, Crested serpent eagle, Great horned owl, Black-headed oriole, Paradise Flycatcher, Coucal and stone curlew. Kumarkhunti reservoir, during winter, serve as transient roosting and feeding ground for several migratory duck species, notably, Garganey and common Teal, Pintail, spot billed and bramhiny Duck and white eyed Pochard. Lesser whistling Teal, Dabehick, Cotton Teal, Nakta, lesser Cormorant, bronze winged Jacana, white breasted Waterhen, pied, white breasted and little blue King fishers and red wattled Lapwings are other resident birds around. In July the reservoir transform in to an abode of migratory birds, mainly, open billed Storks, pond Heron, Egrets and Cormorants. Butterflies are abundant during monsoon and post monsoon months…

Chilka Lake

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Situated southwest of Puri, Chilka is the largest brackish water lake in Asia. Chilka is also known as Honeymoon island and Breakfast island. The lake is spread over an area of 1100 sq kms and is a good picnic spot. One can enjoy boating on the shimmering blue waters and enjoy fishing at leisure. There are about 160 variety of fish in the lake. The fishermen around the lake practise prawn farming. Much of the lake's prawns are exported. Rich in acquatic flora and fauna, this lake has been attracting not only tourists but migratory birds who visit Chilka during winters. Birds come here from as far as Siberia.

Daspalla Elephant Reserve

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Daspalla is situated 40 kms from Nayagrah, here we can find forests with incredibly lush flora and fauna. Daspalla is famous for its jungles, animals and trees. Here the Government has constructed a water project named Kuanria Dam…

Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary

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Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the district of Balasore in the state of Orissa. The forests of the region cover the Nato hills and the Sukhupata hills merging with the Similipal National Park…

Nandan Kanan National Park - Bhubaneshwar

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Literally meaning the Garden of Pleasure, Nandankanan is a combination of a beautiful botanical garden, a zoo and a sanctuary. Situated 20 km from Bhubaneshwar, Nandankanan provides perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The quiet environment of Nandankanan is set amidst a vast expanse of the Chandaka forest where the flora and fauna flourish in their most natural habitat and environment…

Simlipal National Park

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231 species of birds nest in these forests. Red Jungle Fowl, Hill Myana, Peafowl, Alexandrine Parakeet, Crested Serpent Eagle are common. The Grey Hornbill, Indian Pied Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Indian Trogon are also found in the reserve. Apart from the large number of mammals and bird species, the park has a sizeable population of reptiles which includes snakes and turtles. The Mugger management programme has helped the Mugger crocodile to survive and flourish on the banks of river Khairi…

Blogs

Born to be Free

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I am an agriculturist by profession.Photography is my passion and bird watching is my hobby.I am a nature lover work for nature conservation…

Other Links

Bengal Birds

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Bengalbirds is an initiative made by some amateur birders who aims to guide common people to identify local birds, know about different types and helps to understand bird conservation…