D N Singh
Come winter, the footfalls into the wild destinations almost double. Rejoicing the grandeur of the nature in a wonder spots like Belghar in Kandhamal district in Odisha is a different luxury for the visitors.
We started our journey from Baliguda to Belghar after breakfast and after about 15 minutes of drive the challenge for the man at the wheel were noticeable.
The vehicle was put on the four by four as the tracks, etched on the bosom of the hill almost kissing the sky, the vehicle would not move up.
The ghat roads laced by en-number of sharp bends tearing through were reflecting the enormity of the risk.
A slight skid from the meandering tracks can anytime get one’s vehicle down into the dangerous and precipitous depths below, where deadly fatalities are the only eventuality.
Racing up the hills
The Belghar Sanctuary is located in Kandhamal district, about 158 kms away from the city of Phulbani in the state of Odisha, India. The sanctuary covers a huge area of 16, 174, 46 acres.
The heights were unforgiving and risks inherent were making the trip nothing less than an arduous adventure. Anyhow, the vehicle was just roaring up.
The area is situated at an altitude of 2255 feet above the sea level.
The sanctuary is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna species, out of which, the Wild Elephants are probably the most flagship species besides many other.
It boasts a wide collection of both medicinal and commercial plant species, out of which, some are considered useful who shed their leaves during the spring time.
The trees in the sanctuary can rise to great heights. The thick forest is home to a number of rare and endangered species of animals. Besides the Wild Elephants, many other smaller mammal species like Deer are also found. The sanctuary is home to several bird species, as well. One can watch them frolicking in mini water pools under the sun.
Then started the down climb and after an hour we reached the spot Belghar couched in the lap of a valley made of an alliance of several mountains.
The sight from the foot-hills was simply spellbinding. Down below was a nature camp with small and fascinating tents dotting the area. Where tourists can enjoy a memorable winter break.
Nearby there were a few flowing dales gurgling through the foot-hill, originating from plethora of aquifers welling out of the mountain crowning the landscape.
And at one end stood like a sentinel, one British era wooden bungalow that encapsulates a different grandeur and architectural marvel built with geometrical precision.
After an arduous journey through the hills the sight of such a fantastic shelter was a real solace.
The Sun was by then on its descend, sprinkling the glitters of the golden rays through the foliage creating an unbelievable look of surrealism.
From faraway forest we could hear the trumpeting of wild elephants, scary and resonating.
The nature was with all its gravity and the night got bathed in tranquility as one can hear the whispers of the silence through the pitch dark blanket of spirituality.
We retired for the day and sleep took us into its grip very soon.
The morning was dreamlike as the temperature had dropped at night, the morning dew kissing the window pan of our bungalow.
It was hard to resist an urge to be out from the beds and enter the arms of a spectacle of nature which can entice any painter to capture the brilliance on his canvass.
We ventured out for an aimless walk through the sanctuary with all its majesty and dignity welcoming another day and another year trotting in slowly through the adolescence of 2024.