Sharmili Mallick

Mayurbhanj: Over 200 tourists from West Bengal, Jharkhand and different parts of Odisha visited Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district which was thrown open to public from today. The park was closed for visitors since March following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Visitors were seen making long queues both at Pithabata (Baripada) and Kaliani (Jashipur) gates since morning today for obtaining the permission to enter the reserve. The permit to enter the park through these two entry points were issued between 6-9 AM with the conditions that one vehicle would have at least one tour guide.

The park authorities informed that a total of 23 four-wheelers carrying visitors entered the park after getting necessary permit at Pithabata entry point (Baripada) while 6 vehicles were allowed entry at Kaliani (Jashipur) gate for carrying tourists into the reserve on the first day.

The Similipal National Park authorities welcomed the tourists by offering them flowers at the entry points. Vehicles, passengers and their belongings were scanned at the entry and the same will be done at the exit points. Use of masks, sanitizers and maintaining social distancing are mandatory in the park.

The tourists will also have to submit an undertaking with respect to the guidelines issued, a violation of which would invite action as per law.

Deputy Director of Similipal Tiger Reserve, Jashipur, Sai Kiran D N said, "People fear to come out of their houses now amid the pandemic situation but we hope the footfall of tourists will increase in the coming days."

As per the order of authorities, tourists will have to leave Joranda and Birehipani waterfalls by 3 PM. Also, they have to ensure that they reach the exit gates (Pithabata, Tulasibani, Kaliani) by 5 PM.

The authorities have also facilitated night stay for tourists at guest houses in Kumari, Gudugudia, Ramatirtha, Barehipani and Jamuani inside the national park which can be booked online by visiting

"I am very excited as Similipal Park opened today after a long gap. I am hopeful to spot tigers and other animals during the ride. I thank the government for opening the reserve," said a tourist from Bhubaneswar.

Another tourist who came from Kolkata said, "We were at home since March and were feeling bored. Similipal is nearby to Kolkata and as it was thrown open for public from today, I have come with my family to enjoy the natural beauty of the reserve. We have undertaken all the measures as per the protocols of the government in view of Covid-19 pandemic."

(Edited By Ramakant Biswas)

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