On 11 Jun 2018 we started our journey to Barnawapara WLS . We started at around 12 noon from NTPC township, Korba , and our route was
Champa - Birra - Sheorinarayan - Katgi - Sel - Amakoha - Asnid - Nawapara - Bar village.
Total distance of 150 km.
The forest resort is located at Bar village.The forest department office is also at the same location.
On the way , near Asnid we visited the beautiful Sidhkhol waterfall located in the forest and about 500m from the main road.Even in the peak summer of June first week , the water flow , though less, was a soothing sight .
|Sidhh khol waterfall|
|Newly constructed watch tower|
It is a perfect place for one day picnic and the forest department has constructed cement canopies for the picnickers.Also a newly constructed watch-tower offers magnificent views of the surrounding forest and valley.
We continued our journey further to Bar village.The road now onwards was winding through thick forest and only a few hamlets were seen sometimes.Road traffic was almost nil and we enjoyed the smooth drive through the forest road.After village Kothari , we encountered thick bamboo forests about 20 feet high on both sides of the that road.After crossing the ghat , we turned right and crossed a forest barrier.The road now was a single lane metal road with tall trees on both sides and we got a first feel of the Barnawapara forest. After sixteen km we turned right once more to cross a forest barrier.But this time we had to buy tickets at the forest counter.
Ticket rates were
Rs.30 per adult
Rs.60 for vehicle entry.
We further travelled 17km on the mud road passing through the thick forests.The forest drive on that cloudy June evening was memorable one.
|The forest drive to Bar village|
We reached the Bar village in the dusk hours. The village has a sizable population with a few shops / hotels at the village square.The forest department office and the forest resort are located in the same square. As on 12Jun2018, there was no mobile network of any service provider.
Forest resort at Bar village
|Reception of the forest resort at Bar|
|The campus of the forest resort|
|Cottages of the forest resort|
|Suite room at the forest resort|
The forest resort has a very spacious campus with green lawns dotted with numerous wooden canopies for sit outs and abundant tall trees.A canteen in the resort campus serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks as per requirements of the guests.
The Suite rooms have attached toilet and kitchen and exclusive verandah for liesurely sit outs.The evenings and nights are memorably pleasant with the cool fresh forest breeze and the sweet music of the forest birds.
The forest resort is equipped with solar power and a backup DG set.
The forest of Barnawapara
The next day early morning we headed to the forest dept. chowki to hire a gypsy-vehicle and a guide for our morning safari.
As indicated on the forest dept. board (as on 12Jun2018) , the gypsy rates are Rs.1300/- for 30Km and guide rates are Rs.200 per safari round.However no time is mentioned for each safari round.The gypsy drivers offer a two hour safari-round.
We started our safari at around 5.30 am . The morning forest was echoing with the chirping of birds and the thick tall forest trees added to our excitement.Various small and big lakes in the forest were the habitats of many birds and animals.We spotted barking-deer, peacocks, spotted deers in the morning safari.
|The way through the woods|
|Sunrise in the forest|
|Peacocks are easily sighted at Barnawapara WLS|
As our safari ended t 7.30am, we requested the gypsy driver to take us to Pakshi vihar at some additional cost(Rs.300/-) .The driver and the guide agreed .On the way we visited the black-buck (deer) breeding centre . The way to the Pakshi vihar point passes through a watch tower located on a hillock.From here one get the magnificent views of the forest in all directions.From the hillock watch tower we visited the Pakshi vihar point , which is a big lake surrounded with forests.Here also a watchtower is available to view the avian fauna.
|Forest views from the hillock watch tower|
|The budding photographer , the hillock watch tower|
|The watch tower at Pakshi Vihar|
|Pakshi vihar point, Barnawapara|
|Forest view from the watch tower, Pakshi vihar|
|Cormorant sighted at Pakshi vihar point|
|Common Egret at Pakshi vihar point|
|King Fisher at Pakshi Vihar point|
|Racket tailed Drongo , morning safari|
|The way through the woods|
|Forest lizards , exciting colours|
|Butterflies are everywhere in the forest.Sadly, sometimes they come under our vehicle.|
|An Ibis-nest, atop a tree in Bar village.|
Thus ended our morning safari tour. We had breakfast and lunch in the resort canteen and relaxed in our suite for the afternoon .At around 3.00pm we headed to the forest chowki for the evening round.This time our guide suggested us the Parsapani and Marer route. Parsapani has a lake and Marer has a crocodile breeding center. In the evening round, we spotted a herd of bisons , spotted deers and many peacocks.
|Bisons are definitely seen in Barnawapara|
|A watch tower , nearby Barbaspur gate|
In conclusion :
The must see points at Barnawapara are
1.Pakshi Vihar point
2.Parsapani and Marer route.
3. As compared to Kanha and Bandhavgarh, tourist count at Barnawapara is lesser and one can enjoy the serene forests without the tourist crowd.
Scope of improvement
1. The forest dept. can display boards indicating various forest routes for the tourists.Gypsy rates and time-duration for each route can also be displayed .
2. Routes for nature-walks can be identified and displayed for the tourists.
3. Cycling routes can be identified and displayed for the tourists.Also bicycles on rent may be made available.
4. The forest has a exceptional natural beauty during the monsoons . The lush green forests with numerous gurgling streams running through it spells a charm on the nature lovers.Some forest zones may be identified for monsoon tourism and nature-walk / trekking tourism may be encouraged in the monsoons.
Sirpur is approximately 30Km from Barnawapara forest resort.It was a town with flourishing international trade in the 7th century AD and was known by the name "Sripur". The town is situated on the banks of river Mahanadi. Most of the goods movement was through waterways.In circa 650AD, Sripur was the capital of Dakshin Kosala ruled by the king Shivgupt Balarjuna.The king was generous and looked after his Budhists , Jains and Hindu subjects equally.
Chinese traveller , Hiuen Tsang visited this place in 639 AD. According to his memoir, some 10,000 Mahayana Buddhist bhikshus (monks) lived here in some 100 monasteries, and there were over 100 temples.
|Tivardev Vihara , Sirpur|
|A sitting area for the Boudh bhikhus, Tivardev vihara Sirpur|
|Rooms of the Boudh bhikshus|
Sirpur Laxman Temple
It is a Vishnu temple made of bricks and all sculpture works are made in moulded bricks of various shapes.It was constructed in circa 650 AD.
|The interiors of Laxman temple|
Sirpur - Surang tila
It was a ancient temple with tunnels (surang) leading to other places.
|Surang tila - Close up|
Sirpur - Gandheshwar Temple
The Gandheshwar temple is older that 6th century and situated on the banks of river Mahanadi. Our guide informed that in the 17th century, the Maratha general Chimaji appa renovated this temple.
|River Mahanadi viewed from Gandheshwar temple|
At Sirpur , Hotel Hiuen Tsang (CG Tourism Board) is a good place for lodging and boarding.We had the morning breakfast at Hotel Hieun Tsang and then we hired a guide from the Tourist Information center.Guide charges was Rs.300/- By 1.00pm , we completed our Sirpur sightseeing and headed back to our place at NTPC-Korba, 177 Km from Sirpur.
* all photographs by Sahil Nimsarkar