Taking its name from the abundance of semul or red silk cotton trees that bloom vividly here, the Simlipal National Park is home to three of India’s biggest animal species –Tiger, Asian Elephant and Gaur. Spread over a sprawling area of 2750 sq. kms, the park is at an altitude of 559.31 meters. Set on a wide expanse of Sal forest, this park is nestled in the very centre of Mayurbhanj, the northernmost district of Orissa. Notable variations in topography, conducive climate and required vegetation has supported large varieties of animals, birds and reptiles to flourish in one of the earliest and finest of India’s 15 Tiger reserves falling under Project Tiger.
Thick and green forests, extensive grassy lands and meadows, cloud kissing peaks, precipitous and sparkling waterfalls, meandering rivers, roaring tigers and trumpeting tuskers, fleeing deer and flying squirrels, talking myna and dancing peacocks et al make Similipal a dreamland of Nature in the wilderness and an irresistible destination.
Covering a vast are of 2750 sq. km out of which 303 sq. km from the core area, thick biosphere reserve is a sanctuary and one of the Tiger Projects and National parks of India. With wide range of rain falls and edaphic variations, range from dry deciduous to moist green forests, it is suitable to different species of flora and fauna. About 1076 species of mammals, 29 types of reptiles and 231 species of birds are the proud possession of this plateau.
Average mean elevation of Similipal is 900 meters. Tall and luxuriant Sal Trees in large numbers stand like sentries. The handsome peaks of Khairiburu (1178 meters), Meghasani (1158 meters) and others welcome like smiling receptionists from the emerald heights. Sweet scented Champak flowers freshen the air. The richly hued orchids on the green foliage are soothing to the eyes. In the midst of the dense forests, the summer stands humbled and the sun gets lost.
Several rivers like Budhabalanga, Khairi, salandi, Palpala, etc. originate from the hills and meander through the forest like veins and arteries in the body. many of them have formed cascading rapids and foaming falls before leaving for the plains. The panoramic view of the waterfalls at Barehipani (400 meters) and Joranda(150 meters) are simply enchanting of fish, is found in abundance in most of the rivers.
The silence of Similipal is occasionally broken by the chirping of the birds to an avian delight.
The dense forest and riverine system serve as an excellent home to some of the most beautiful creatures of the World. To stay with them, even for a while, is a thrilling experience. Herds of elephants majestically walking across the roads and rivulets could be a regular sight. While you are moving on the hilly tracts, predators like Tiger and Leopards might be obliviously lulling under the shade with their own thoughts. If lucky, you could spot them there, or else see them around the saltlicks at places like Chahala. Forget the apprehensive dear at Similipal is at its natural best.
The crocodile rearing centre at Ramtirtha near Jashipur is an additional attraction.