Bhubaneswar, June 12, 2018:
People living inside the concrete jungle of the twin city Bhubaneswar-Cuttack, hardly get a chance to escape into the nostalgic greenery around the cities. But, for those who could spare some time out of their hectic schedule, a simple get-away welcomes with vividly colorful forest with abundance of wildlife, water bodies, flora and fauna and so much more. Chandaka Forest is a prominent landmark on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, which is the home to the famous Indian Elephants. There are a lot many other species of animals, birds, flora and fauna which adorns this forest offering a perfect get-away for the tired souls.
Kumarkhunti is one of the less-travelled reservoirs inside the Chandaka-Damapada Wildlife Sanctuary. It is also one of the most prominent reservoirs inside the forest and relatively smaller than Jhumuka and Deras. But the most fascinating aspect of this reservoir is that you can spot wild elephants rampantly inside this reservoir. Secondly, during the winters this reservoir gives you an amazing view of migratory birds nesting inside the bushy green forests and wetlands. Kumarkhunti is less-travels also because of the reason that there is no approach through cars or any four-wheelers. However, with a little effort and a lot of precaution, anyone can take a bike or two-wheeler to the base of reservoir. The approach road is quite scenic through the trails of dusty gravel pathways which are often used by locals by foot or on a bicycle. The jungle of Kumarkhunti is also home to several species of reptiles and snakes like vipers, pythons and king-cobras. If you are lucky enough, you can spot groups of peacocks, and other species of birds along with some other endangered avian species, who are on the verge of extinction due to the rapid growth of urban jungle.
Last Sunday, BCAC planned its ride to Kumarkhunti to explore the vibrancy of nature on the onset of Monsoon. It was a beautiful route with black-asphalt roads till Chandaka from Baramunda Fire Station, and then till the SOG Campus of Odisha Police. The gravel roads start just beside the SOG Campus till almost 3.5KMs inside the jungle and through some scattered hamlets and recently developed farmhouses. The morning sky on this Sunday was a little overcast and the temperature was around 28 Degrees, offering a beautiful weather for cycling. After the group assembled at the Club House, the ride started exactly at 6:15AM. We took the route of Fire Station, Kalinga Studio Square and Chandaka Square to reach the approach road of Kumarkhunti near SOG Campus. As there is no drinking water facility or human habitation near the reservoir, we made an early breakfast at Chandaka and filled our water bottles before heading towards the reservoir.
From the side of SOG Campus till the reservoir, it was a heavenly bliss amidst the dusty pebbled roads and walking trails. Each rider enjoyed this unexplored trail-ride through narrow paths inside the dense bamboo jungle. Riders were elated to witness the last of the seasonal flowering of bamboo plants. We also lucky to witness some green nests (typically these are dusky brown) of Baya weaver birds high in the bamboo shoots. The entire path was so silent only except the chirping of birds and songs of the water flow, it soothed souls to a blissful state inside the Kumarkhunti forests. As we reached the reservoir, the smooth waves of cold breeze welcomed us with relatively clear and cool water. The sun was rising above our heads and the rising temperature is offering a sense of summer. After a brief photo-session, some riders jumped into the water to have a pleasing and soothing bath inside the reservoir. Although there was some initial hesitation due to presence of snakes and crocodiles (although we have never spotted any crocodile so far in this reservoir), the cold waters and breezed could not stop the cyclists to take a deep. After bathing for almost half-an-hour riders decided to head back through the same route till SOG Campus. After hitting the main road, we savored some recently plucked farm-fresh mangoes. Many of us purchased mangoes to take back to home with us. After a blissful ride exploring this serene beauty of Kumarkhunti we returned back with a bag full of memories and with a promise to explore other parts of this place soon again in near future.
Some Advice for the Solo Riders:
- Take some first-aid with you for any cuts and bruises as the jungle is dense.
- Take enough hydration and fill your water bottles. Carrying some fruits or light snacks is also advised.
- Take precaution while riding inside the jungle to avoid encounter with wild reptiles and animals.
- Stay away from thrones and pricks as they are quite huge in numbers here.
- Talk to locals, as they are quite familiar with the situation inside the jungle and can guide you well.
Don’t little this pristine place with plastic or garbage