Plans afoot to make Bhubaneswar an ecotourism hotspot

The Odisha government proposes to connect three major forests in and around Bhubaneswar by bus service in order to make optimum use of their ecotourism potential.

Tourists are likely to be ferried by tourist buses to Nandankanan Biological Park and Chudanga and Bharatpur forests of the Chandaka division as part of the government’s larger plan to showcase Bhubaneswar’s ecotourism assets.

According to a Forest and Environment Department officer, one can hardly find wilderness in close proximity to a city anywhere in the country, except in Bhubaneswar.

A fleet of buses would soon be acquired to facilitate visits of tourists to the three forests.

Taking a cue from Karnataka, which has been cashing in on the exquisite natural beauty of the Bannerghatta Biological Park, spread over 731.88 hectares about 22 km from Bengaluru city, the State government is contemplating creation of two more safaris in Chudanga Reserve Forest and Bharatpur Reserve Forest.

While Nandankanan and Bharatpur are almost within Bhubaneswar, Chudanga is just two km from the city limits. Sources in the department said they would require minimal investment to make packaged ecotourism tours.

Apart from the rich captive zoo population, the Nandankanan Biological Park boasts a botanical garden spread over 173 acres.

Over the years, the forest department had developed several gardens including butterfly, medicinal, rose, Japanese, bougainvillea and heritage inside the botanical garden.

The government can connect the botanical garden with Chudanga by providing an underpass on Khurda-Baranga bypass road.

The Nandankanan Biological Park, spread over 437 hectares, received more than 32 lakh tourists last year, while the botanical garden was visited by over 2 lakh tourists.

People’s choice

As far as the people’s choice is concerned, Nandankanan comes second only to the Mysuru zoo, which is ranked first in the country.

With an area of 1,000 hectares, the Bharatpur Reserve Forest, which is part of the Chandka-Dompara Sanctuary, is also a natural forest which is situated inside Bhubaneswar.

Apart from the Asiatic elephants, wild pigs, deer, hyena and pangolin can be sighted in the forest. Several water-bodies also add to its beauty.

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