Used as hunting grounds by the erstwhile rulers of Odisha, this spectacular and picturesque town of Mayurbhanj in Odisha is credited with the largest wildlife sanctuary of India and is also considered as one of the main Tiger Projects of the country. The name of the Simplipal National Park has been derived from the word ‘Simul’, which is the name of the silk-cotton tree found in the area and is endowed with dense forests, striking meadows, beautiful waterfalls, and rivers with crystal clear water. The park is positioned atop a plateau at an altitude of 900m and is spread is an expansive area of 2750 square kilometers.
The park has been gifted by the nature with an exotic bio-diversity and diverse varieties of flora and fauna that attract a horde of visitors from all over the world. The dense and lush green forests of Simplipal park are renowned for being the ideal location for forest camping which is open for tourists and the cool breeze coming out from dense forests enhances the experience even more. The camping season is from November to mid-June when the weather is favorable and wild animals can be easily spotted.
The area of Simplipal was announced as a Tiger Reserve in the year 1956 and in May 1973 it was taken under the essential part of the Tiger Project. Later in 1979, the area was upgraded to a Wildlife Sanctuary covering an area of 2200 sq. kilometers and after adding more of 845sq. km, it was declared as a Biosphere Reserve. Also known as the Elephant Reserve, the park is a comprehensive ecosystem with wide-ranging flora along with the Santhal tribal settlements that live in symbiosis surrounding the park. The undulating high hills of Simplipal national park envelope Meghasani, the chief peak in the park which makes for a splendid photographic shot. The national park can be explored through jungle safaris, trekking, or just watching the serenity of the place by camping at one place or watching the migratory birds with your binoculars.
The park has 1076 species of plants that belong to 102 different families. The area is covered with semi-evergreen forests with tropical moist broadleaf forests and tropical moist deciduous forests along with dry deciduous hill forests with Sal trees and Orchids. The park also attracts many researchers and pharmacists because of its wide-ranging medicinal plants as well.
Mammals: Leopard, Gaur, Elephant, Langur, Barking and Spotted Deer, Sloth Bear, Mongoose, Flying Squirrel, Porcupine, Sambar, Pangolin, Four-Horned Antelope, Chital, Chevrotains, Wild Dog, Monkeys, etc.
Reptiles: Crocodile, Monitor Lizard, Python, Snakes, Turtle
Birds: Grey Hornbill, Indian Pied Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Indian Trogon, Red Jungle Fowl, Hill Mynah, Peafowl, Alexandrine Parakeet, Crested Serpent Eagle, etc.
The area experiences tropical climate. The summers can be very hot and humid with temperature soaring to 40 degrees Celsius while the winters can get as low as 14 degrees Celsius. The average rainfall can be witnessed as moderate to heavy.
The best time to visit the park is from November to June, as this the time the gates are open for tourists. June can get very hot but it is also the time when wild animals are easily spotted in search of water.
Nearest Train Station: The nearest railway station is Balasore (60km). From here, major trains run on the South-Eastern sector and taxis and buses are available from outside the station to reach the park.
Nearest Airport: The nearest airports are Bhubaneswar (270km) and Kolkata (240km). A straight drive down from Kolkata is more convenient. Taxis are available from the airport to get to the national park.
Road Accessibility : The national park is well-connected by a road network from all major cities and places near Odisha. Baripada is considered as the entry point for the reserve which is a district headquarter of Mayurbhanj lying at junction of NH5 and NH6. You can reach the park through public vehicles or take your own privately run vehicle.