Bhitarkanika, the second largest mangrove eco-system after Sunderbans
, is located in Kendrapada District
. This group of islands in Northern Orissa, which extends over 600 sq km, features more than 60 varieties of mangrove plants. The numerous creeks and canals which crisscross the length and breadth of Bhitarkanika finally merge with the sea to form the estuarine delta. Bhitarkanika is the last refuge to the endangered saltwater crocodile
Bhitarkanika was declared as a sanctuary in 1975. The Bhitarkanika Sanctuary and National Park is rich in mammalian and reptilian population; King Cobra, Indian Python and Water Monitor Lizard are the major reptile species found here. Bhitarkanika is also a paradise for birds. It is home to over 215 species of birds including winter migrants from central-Asia and Europe.
Gahirmatha Turtle Sanctuary, a part of the Bhitarkanika Sanctuary and National Park, is famous for Olive Ridley turtles.
The best time to visit Bhitarkanika is from October-March.
Bhitarkanika also provides exciting trekking trails through forests teeming with wildlife.
Bhadrak Railway Station is the nearest railhead. From Bhadrak, jeep can be used to reach Chandbali (42km), from where ferry services links the islands. Biju Patnaik Airport is about 154 km from Bhadrak.