Simlipal Tiger Reserve is located in Mayurbhanj district in the northern part of Orissa, close to the Bengal-Bihar border. It is 22 km away from the town of Baripada. It is a dense hilly tract of forests spread over 2,750 sq km. It is part of the Mahanadian biogeographical region. According to a local legend the forest got its name from the Simul trees with attractive red flowers.
This area has several mountain peaks such as Khairiburu and Meghasani. There are 7 major rivers and their tributaries flow from these forests. There are approx 1,076 plant species, 231 bird species and 42 mammal species and 29 reptiles and 12 species of amphibians. Here mammals found include tiger, leopard, elephant, sloth bear and spotted deer. Bird species are peafowl, jungle fowl, hill hynah, eagle and parakeet. Reptiles like crocodile, lizards, turtles and cobras are commonly found. There are some endangered species as well.
The Simlipal tiger reserve came under Project Tiger plan in 1973. Its core area was declared sanctuary in 1979.The entire region is known as Simlipal Biosphere Reserve. It occupies an important position as the habitat of the Royal Bengal tiger. It is popularly known as Tiger country. There are also evidences to suggest that Simlipal is the abode of the rare black or melanisitic tiger. There are 101 tigers according to the last census.
Getting to Simlipal Tiger Reserve:
By Air: Nearest airport is Kolkatta which is 262 km, Bhubaneshwar which is 270km.
Nearest station is Baleshwar on the east coast railway. There are deluxe buses between Baleshwar and Baripada.
Highway to Baripada from either Kolkatta or Bhubaneswar. Pithabata is the entry point from the Baripada side. One can enter from Jashipur side also.
Best time to visit Simlipal Tiger Reserve:
The reserve is open from November to June. But the best time to visit will be between November to February. April and May have best animal sightings. It is time when wild flowers and orchids bloom to their full glory.