Kendrapara, Oct 24 (LocalWire): The state tourism department has decided to organize a three-month-long eco-retreat festival at Bhitarkanika National Park from December 1 – February 28, in order to attract tourism to the country’s second-largest mangrove forest.
The festival will be held on the banks of the river in Nalitiapatia village near the park.
Fifteen luxury tents will be pitched for tourists; furnished with water, electricity, and parking facilities.
A cultural festival, food festival, forest trekking and visits to the nearby Pentha beach will be offered in the package, said Samarth Verma, the collector of Kendrapara.
Last year, the state government had organized a month-long marine drive eco-retreat festival commencing from 14th December at Chandrabhaga beach, near the famous sun temple at Konark.
The state tourism department will soon begin taking online bookings for the festival.
Beautiful water bodies with lush green mangrove forests along with an abundance of wildlife including crocodiles, birds, snakes and other animals are the assets of the national park.
The picturesque beauty and serenity of the park are mesmerizing. The national park attracts travelers from different corners of the country as well as the world.
“We selected Nalitiapatia village (which is 6 km away from the park) for the festival so as not to disturb the wildlife in the park,” said Bikash Ranjan Dash, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the park.
Bhitarkanika National Park is a well-known Ramsar site. It is home to a great variety of wildlife, including spotted deer, saltwater crocodiles, Water Monitors, pythons and Sambars.
It is also the home of large numbers of migratory birds in winter. The festival will generate income for the locals, added the forest officer.
A photo exhibition, seminar exhibition of films on Bhitarkanika and other wildlife will be organized during the three-month-long festival, added the officer.
Gahirmatha marine sanctuary within Bhitarkanika is the world’s largest rookery of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles.
“In an effort to attract more tourists, particularly overseas tourists, the authorities have also built cottages at Habelikothi, Gupti, and Dangamal. We are also giving emphasis to sustainable tourism to generate employment for the locals,” added the officer.
In 1975, the Ministry of Forests and Environment in collaboration with UNDP had started a crocodile breeding and rearing project in Dangamal within the park.
Thanks to the success of the project, the crocodile population started increasing in the creeks, river, and other water bodies of the park and its nearby areas.
As a result, the park is now the home of 1757 crocodiles as per this year’s crocodile census.
Ten years ago, the Guinness Book of World Records had recorded a 23-foot long salt-water crocodile in Bhitarkanika as the largest crocodile in the world.