Satkoshia-An Amazing Experience
By Manas Layek
Dept. of Chemistry
Bankura Christian College
Satkoshia Wildlife Sanctuary is a great biodiversity area and a habitat of several endangered species. It is situated in Odissa and spread over four districts; Angul, Cuttack, Nayagarh and Boudh.
The name Satkosia originates from two words; sat meaning seven and kos meaning two miles, indicating the length of the gorge as 14 miles or 22 km. The area was declared as Satkosia Tiger Reserve in 2007, comprising two adjoining wildlife sanctuaries; the Satkosia Gorge sanctuary and Baisipalli sanctuary.
The forest Dept. has set up facilities for the tourists at two sides. One is at Angul district, Tikarpada , Chotkei centric. Another, a new one at Badmul in Nayagarh district.
Our destination was Satkoshia Sands Resort, Badmul situated at the buffer area of southern side of Satkoshia Tiger Reserve.
We took Howrah Puri Express to reach Bhubaneswar Railway Station at 5:30 am. Our driver Gagan was waiting with his Dezire car in the station parking area. Badmul is 113 kms from Bhubaneswar and we reached our destination at 9:35 am. The road goes via Khurdha,Kantilo, Gania, Chhamundia and perfect road direction is available in googles map. We did our breakfast at Baghamari after khudha as you won't have good restaurant after this place. It took half an hour. Then we started again to Badmul. On way we reached Chhamundia check post where we had to register our name and address. After a few kilometers we reached the entrance of the resort.
The resort is situated at some 200 meters from the reception -cum- perking area. The staff took our luggage to the base area of the mountain where the kitchen and ac tents are situated. We waited for another 30 minutes as the room was being cleaned. We were at our room by 10. The property is looked after by local people from nearby villages. This is a part of ecotourism project of the government.
We had booked an AC cottage in the mountain slope. There are three such cottages at one row and one needs to negotiate some 90 steps to reach the cottage from the level of the ac tents. One might find this climb a bit tiresome but once you reach the cottage the panoramic view will definitely mesmerize you. The room is moderate in size with glass paneled windows at three sides. The bathroom is neat and clean. Each cottage has balcony with chairs and one can spend hours by viewing the distant Mahanadi and surrounding greenery.
The entire resort is a huge property and has two parts. One part is at the mountain slope where the kitchen, AC tents (four in number); AC cottages (three in numbers) and a small dining room –cum-library are situated. Other part is on the sand bed of the river, just below the mountain with a restaurant and nine tents, all upon the sand. This part is surrounded by fence and has ample playing area with badminton and volleyball court. The river flows through the other side, some 300 meters away and they have fenced a small portion of the river for safe bathing. There are makeshift changing rooms as well.
I was watching the distant river amidst the chirping of the birds. A staff named Digambar came to inform me the daily schedule. We were told to reach the restaurant on the sands by 1:30 pm for lunch. We came down accordingly. The lunch was sumptuous with rice, salad, mixed vegetable, aluchokha and chicken. The menu is fixed. One can order extra items in advance, subject to availability. Manas (a staff in the restaurant) told us to come at 3 pm for boating. We retired to our room for a brief rest.
We came down again at around 3 pm for boating. We showed our booking slip at the reception where they made some entries on the booking slip. The jetty is situated at some 4 to 5 kms from the resort and we took our car to the jetty. There is a check post and the barrier for the core area. This is also the place where the gorge ends. Upon showing the booking slip we were assigned a motor boat along with a driver. The boat ride lasts for 45 minutes. We were taken upstream through the gorge. The depth of the river is 40 feet there. The afternoon breeze and the reflection of the sunlight on the river between the mountains filled the atmosphere with a surreal feeling. We were free from everything, completely absorbed in the loneliness of the gorge. As we were going upstream we could find two crocodiles resting on the river bank. Cormorants were all around with fishes on their mouths. As we returned downstream and towards the end of the gorge, we found a flock of Indian Skimmers (Rynchops Albicollis).
As we returned to the resort it was late afternoon. We watched the setting sun standing on the sand bed, Mohona playing with the sand all along. We went to the river side, watched the gentle flow of crystal clear water, inviting us to get into it. We strolled to the resort area on the sands. Mohona started playing volleyball with a group of boys aged around twenty four. They are office colleagues and came from Howrah. We watched them playing for half an hour and waited for the evening, sitting on the easy chairs.
Tea and snacks were given and there was folkdance by the local artists. Dinner was served right after that with Chapati, santhala (local mixed vegetable), Dal and egg curry. We retired to our cottage on the mountain slope and plunged ourselves into the abyss of sleep.
I woke up amidst the chirping of the birds at six O’clock in the morning. I saw from balcony Prakash (another staff) coming with a tea flask. We came down for nature walk at around six thirty. We were led to the pitch road outside the resort by Prakash. After some distance we entered into the forest. We were walking in a queue negotiating the ups and downs of the hilly terrain. The silence of the forest was broken by the sound of the footsteps on the leaves of the trees on our way. There were trees all around with various shapes. We found two giant squirrels playing on a branch. We walked for one hour and came back to resort. We had a brief breakfast with puri and vegetables and proceeded to boating point at around 9. We had boating just like the previous day with additional sightings of Indian turtles. We came back to resort and had our lunch. The menu was same but fish of Mahanadi instead of chicken. We spent the afternoon walking and playing on the sand bed. A new team of artist came to perform in the evening and we had dinner. Sleep was as deep as it could have been.
I did not go for walking. Instead, I took one racing cycle (several of them were parked in the resort) and roamed in the serene road that goes through the buffer area of the jungle. It was filled with the chirping of birds and smell of unknown flowers. The entire area was devoid of human beings except me. Though I could not see any animals, I was sure, they were actually watching me from a distance and wondering -who was trespassing in their area!
Now, it was time to return, return to city and human habitation. We ended our Satkoshia tour after roaming in the jungle by car for some time after breakfast. Prakash, Digambar, Manas accompanied us till the gate of the resort. When the car was about to start I felt a strong attachment to them, a strong attachment to Satkoshia. I told them that I would come again. The memory of those wonderful and simple people, the experience of Satkoshia gorge and sanctuary would never be erased from my mind.
1. Booking can be done online. Visit https://www.ecotourodisha.com/
2. It is a complete package that includes charges for food, boating, nature walk @ Rs. 10624/-(AC Cottage and two persons). They didn’t charge for my 11 year old daughter. For the driver they charged Rs. 300/ day for bed and Rs. 500/ day for food.
3. Best time is Nov. to first week of March.
4. For car contact colorscab.com, a Bhubaneswar based reliable car rental. One can also contact Gagan who was our driver in Satkoshia. He has a Dezire car. His no is 9337236334 and 8114965553. He is a well behaved person. He drives also well.
5. No outside restaurant or any nearby shop. A few kms away small shops in local villages.
6. Alcohol is strictly prohibited and clearly written all over the property.
7. No mosquito menace at the time of travelling.
8. Entire resort is covered by Airtel network and Jio network at some places. But net connectivity is slow.
9. For any other information one can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org