Location: Mayurbhanj district of Orissa
Area: 2,750 sq. km
Best time to visit: October to mid-June
Simlipal Tiger Reserve originated primarily as a hunting ground for the royalty. It was formally designated a tiger reserve in 1956 under Project Tiger in May 1972. It was elevated to a national park status in 1979. Located in the Mayurbhanj district of India, coastal state of Orissa, Simlipal Tiger Reserve is an ecosystem complete with forest vegetation (mainly sal trees), fauna and the adjoining Santhal tribal settlements. High plateaus and hills, the highest peak being the Mangesheri, surround the forest. At least 12 rivers cut across the plain area. The prominent among them are Burhabalanga, Palpala Bandan, Kahairi and Deo. This sprawling forest also has many waterfalls that are a perpetual attraction to the tourist. It has withstood two cyclones. in 1982 and 1999. without any irrevocable damages and continues to enchant visitors.
The Simlipal national park is a treasure house of 501 species of plants belonging to 102 families. 82 species of orchids have also been identified here. It has a mixed type of vegetation with Northern tropical semi-evergreen trees and Northern tropical moist deciduous trees. Plus, dry deciduous hill forest and high level Sal forests. The grasslands and the savannas provide grazing grounds for the herbivores and hiding place to the carnivores. The forest boasts of innumerable medicinal and aromatic plants, which provide a source of earnings for the tribals.
Also concerned itself with the care of other animals. After the project was launched, the park saw an increase in population of not only Tigers but Leopards, Sambars, Langurs, Barking and Spotted Deer, Gaur, Elephant and the 'Four-horned' antelope. The protected environment of the park has provided shelter to a number of other mammals. 231 species of birds nest in these forests. Red Jungle Fowl, Hill Mynah, Peafowl, Alexandrine Parakeet, Crested Serpent Eagle are common. The Grey Hornbill, Indian Pied Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Indian Trogon are also found in the reserve. Apart from the large number of mammals and bird species, the park has a sizeable population of reptiles which includes snakes and turtles. The Mugger management programme has helped the Mugger crocodile to survive and flourish on the banks of river Khairi.
During summers, the temperature is very high (around 40°C) whereas during the winter it falls to about 14°C. The monsoon season brings moderate to very heavy rainfall.