The Kashmir of Odisha: A Trip Through the Scenic Hills of Daringbadi
The little town and hill station of Daringbadi in Odisha might not be the replica of Kashmir but is indeed a beautiful piece of land of its own with countless blessings of the nature to offer.
Miles of dense woods, an array of greenery, the splashing sound of water as it pounds into a nearby rock, serpentine roads surrounded with perched up bodies of rock standing strong on the heart of the earth. Silence, peace, tranquillity and picturesque view together make up the little hill station of Daringbadi, also known as ‘The Kashmir of Odisha’.
Situated in the Kandhamal district, almost 3,000 ft above the sea level, Daringbadi is home to numerous hills, forests, valleys, waterfalls, rivers and plateaus. Today, the place stands as one of the most popular tourist destinations and can be considered as one of the hidden scenic attractions in the State of Odisha.
Daringbadi can be reached through airways, railways and roadways. The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar (251km) and nearest railway station is Bramhapur (140km). The road from Bramhapur to Daringbadi is a natural roller-coaster ride with numerous sliding curves and steep roads. It is also embellished with natural bounties on both sides. The place is renowned as the home of various sightseeing spots:
Situated only 5km away from the town of Daringbadi, the first destination to arrive is The Coffee and Pepper Garden. It is the perfect place to enjoy a nice stroll amidst the long stretches of coffee and pepper plants. The trees are adorned with coffee and pepper seeds, respectively, and there is a natural aroma of coffee in the air. One can certainly relish the beauty of the greenery alongside witnessing natural coffee and pepper cultivation at its finest. Coffee, pepper and various other spices are also available for purchase near the garden at affordable rates.
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Almost next to the garden is the lush green Pine Forest. Innumerable pine trees stand next to one another in a symmetrical row. One can see the blue sky and shimmering rays of the sun peeking out from the clustered tops of the pine trees as they look up. At the break of the dawn, the forest is often covered with a thick fog which leaves behind its traces on the dried leaves strewed on the ground throughout the day. This place is another ideal picnic spot and provides good scope for nature photography.
The Midubanda Waterfalls comes next. A steep trail consisting of approximately 180 stairs leads one to this beautiful waterfall.
The water gracefully gushes out from between the mountains, hits the nearby rocks and boulders forming a pool like water body. The area is also a popular local picnic spot.
On the way to Midubanda Falls is the scenic viewpoint Pangali Ghat. Enclosed by lush green forests and large hills, this spot is a paradise for nature lovers. It provides a wide landscape view of the Pangali valley amidst the forests and hills. A small curve appears beneath the mountains showcasing a part of the meandering road below.
Emu bird farming has been one of the popular agricultural trends in Orissa over the years. This takes one to the next destination, the Emu Bird Sanctuary. A large area has been allotted to carry out the bird farming where a family of 20–25 Emu birds reside. Visitors can spend their time watching the birds walking around there in their zone and even feed them if they wish to.
The next spot is one among the other major attractions in Daringbadi. The Lover’s Point provides a striking view of Mother Nature as a beautiful stream oozes out through the rocks and flows through the slated boulders joining a river at the base of a mountain. This area also provides the facility of a bath in the stream. The slanting rocks have created a slope through which one can slide down to the base of the river.
Nearly 17km away from the stream are the two well-known parks that serve as another major tourist attraction point. The Hill View Park atop a hill is the ideal place for a visit with kids. The park is decorated with statues and models of various animals. Inside the park are plenty of rides for children to enjoy. It also has a view tower that provides a panoramic view of the entire Daringbadi valley, making it one of the most visually attractive tourist spots.
The Nature Park is relatively new and offers quite a few things to explore. A separate butterfly park has been constructed within the main park which displays an innumerable collection of flowers with a fair number of different species of butterfly. There is also a herbal garden where plenty of herbal plants are cultivated. In addition, the statue of a sage at the centre gives the garden a perfect vibe of a herbal hub. There is a tribal museum with signature materials crafted by the local tribal people on display. Alongside the same, there is also a 3D theatre and multiple amusement rides inside the park.
Even a simple walk along the long length of green exposes a whole universe of diverse flora and fauna.
The final sightseeing destination is Sunset Point. Almost every day, a decent crowd of tourists gather at this particular point across the hills to watch the sunset amidst the mountains. The wide sky displays a plethora of changing colours in contrast to the green of the hills as the sun succumbs to sleep for the day. It is perhaps one of the most pleasant sites to witness the magic of nature in Daringbadi.
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Along with the main destinations, adjoining areas like Mandasuru and Dokra Village are also renowned areas that can be visited on a tour. Mandasuru is also known as the ‘Silent Valley of Odisha’ and provides the most satisfying scenic experience. The Mandusuru nature camp also provides accommodation facilities in a natural cottage amidst the surrounding hills and forest, whereas the Dokra Village is the core of original dokra art and craft.
Nearly 50 per cent of the population in Daringbadi belongs to the ST community of the aboriginal tribes. The local tribal inhabitants are ‘Kuthia Kondo’ and ‘Dongia Kondo’ and the local language spoken is ‘Kui’. During the time of the British Raj, Officer Dering Saheb ruled the area and later the town was named after him.
Daringbadi truly stands as the ideal place to get lost in the lap of nature away from the hustle-bustle of the city life. With its gigantic hills, dense forests and majestic waterfalls among other things the tow has painted itself with the finest colours of nature that remains untouched to the day.