It was quite some time since I had changed my instagram profile pic, and having found the perfect spot to click the picture, I could wait no longer. It was however an overenthusiastic stranger couple who were busy making reels, that I had to keep staring at the clock. It was nearing 5 PM, and day light was fading away.
Tired of waiting and fearing low light image won’t do justice to the beauty of the place, I hopped into the spot and threw in a half baked pose, while the couple were busy sorting through their repository of images. Little did I know that the damage was already done. The low light just ensured, a 2022 pic look like one taken in 2004. Technology still has a long way to go. My eyes however was witnessing the beautifully cascading series of hills and valleys, with the sun setting in the west and dark clouds flying from the north. Daringbadi just made a thundering impression.
Table of Contents:
Daringbadi at a glance
1. How to reach
2. Where to stay
3. Best time to Visit
My trip to Daringbadi
Road Maps of the routes we took:
Daringbadi town and Places to visit in Daringbadi
1. Hill View Park
1.1 Hill Top View Point
2. Butterfly Garden
3. Daringbadi Nature Camp
4. Coffee and Spice Plantations
5. The Scenic Roads
6. Midhubanda Waterfall
Daringbadi at a Glance:
|How to Reach:|
By Rail: The nearest station is Behrampur, situated approximately 120 Kms away. A private vehicle easily takes you there within 3 hours.
By Road: From Bhubaneswar, this place is 251 KMS and frequently connected by bus services or you can hire private vehicles as well.
By Air: The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik airport in Bhubaneswar, which is a good 246 KMS away from Daringbadi. It takes around 5 hours 30 minutes by a private vehicle.
Where to Stay:
|Accomodation options are limited in Daringbadi, do ensure to make prior bookings.|
Daringbadi Nature Camp : It is the best place to stay, costs around 5000 for 2 people, inncluding breakfast, lunch and dinner. All bookings needs to be done through Eco Tourism website of govt of Odisha.
Some other options are:
Deers Eco Home
Hotel Mid Town
Best Time to Visit:
December to February.
My Trip to Daringbadi:
After a healthy dose of some freshly squeezed sugarcane juice, on the outskirts of Behrampur, we started our drive towards Daringbadi. It was the month of March and summer had already arrived in this part of the world. This year particularly, the state was reeling under an intense heat wave, which ensured we had by and large empty roads almost every where we went.
An hour into the drive and we could already see the approaching hills on our way. We had just crossed Soroda, the final known town before entering the forested hills of Gajalbadi.
One hairpin bend after another, the assent didn’t seem to end as we were crossing the dreaded Gajalbadi ghaat. The road was in excellent condition, albeit the fact that it was quite narrow. At times it felt like the ascent was very steep, but since the road was so good with hardly any traffic, I would say the climb went quite smoothly. The ghaat would however test the driving skills of anyone if faced with heavy on coming traffic.
Maps of routes we took:
From Berhampur to Daringbadi: https://goo.gl/maps/f4D5fsgJy7X3LLd36
From Daringbadi to Behrampur: https://goo.gl/maps/FQLZTiqH7pP9mdzK9
Daringbadi town and Places to Visit:
Daringbadi is a sleepy quite town, like most of the towns in the southern part of Odisha. Its not a tourist trap like other hill stations, neither it is too crowded. Even within the Daringbadi town, I found wide stretches of open lands, small huts, and a great repository of trees. It was quite refreshing to see that despite having shot into the tourism limelight, the place is still far away from heavy commercialization. For people looking to slow travel, Daringbadi is a boon.
We had booked our stay at the Forest Department run Nature Camp, which is perched atop a hill within the town. Its perfectly placed, and gives away a panoramic view of the entire valley all around. After checking into the resort and having a quite desi meal, we started our exploration of the Kashmir of Odisha.
Hill View Park:
I would say our decision to stay at the Nature Camp was really good , as both the Hill View park and Butterfly Park are located at the entrance of the resort. This just meant we could just walk to the parks. Temperature wise Daringbadi was colder than Berhampur or Bhubaneswar, however it was not chilly at all, until clouds started forming in the sky at around 3 PM and a gust of cold breeze started flowing.
The Hill View Park has a beautiful and well-maintained garden, a garden of medicinal plants. There is also a display of the Kutia Kondh tribe and various statues of wild animals inside the park. There is a small children’s play area inside the park as well, that had various rides, like swings and slides. People traveling with family would have a gala time here, as the children would enjoy their heart’s content in the park, and adults could enjoy the beauty of the hills all around from the hill top view point.
Hill Top View Point:
Within the periphery of the Hill View park, stands a 20 meters tall structure, with glass wings coming out from its right and left. A small flight of stairs took us to the upper level, where the glass railings met the central structure. From a distance the glass structure looked like a glass walk, however it turned out to be a concrete bridge, with glass railings. Nevertheless the view from the top instantly took away all our exhaustion.
As you might have already guessed, its the same place where my picture got ruined, however it was also the place that introduced us to the real beauty of Daringbadi. The clouds those had formed in the sky was getting darker by every passing minute, and we could hear the thunder getting closer. Time to move on to the next location.
The Butterfly Garden is a beautiful flowering garden right in front of the Hill View Park. Loaded with multiple flowering and ornamental plants, this park stays true to its name, as we could spot a number of butterflies.
The garden being on the slopes of a hill, also ensured it got a few succulents and cactus plants inside its boundaries, which is a rare sight in public parks. The park is also home to many medicinal plants, which are all marked with the typical green colored boards.
A few steps into the park and a short drizzle started pouring down. It was time to retreat back to our resort, as there are no shelters around the park other than the huge trees, which by the way are very dangerous to stand under when a thunderstorm is raining down. Big trees are prone to lightning strikes, hence it was only wise to rush back to our resort.
Daringbadi Nature Camp:
As previously declared, the Nature Camp is where we stayed for the night, and it might come as a surprise as to why would a resort feature in the places to visit. The simple reason is the vantage point where this resort is situated.
The camp consists of a string of small cottages, on top of one of the highest hills in the Daringbadi area, thus ensuring panoramic views of the valley all around. The thunderstorm could not have been well timed, as it brought along with it, cold winds, which brought the temperature down of the whole hill station. The night was not freezing, however it did require a light blanket.
It is however the early morning sunrise, which convinced me to add the resort in a list of places to visit. It was a picture perfect sunrise, with the sky turning orange at first, followed by a small ball of fire raising from within the hills. It was arguably the best sun rise I had seen in recent times, rivaling that of the one witnessed in Tiger Hill.
Coffee and Spice Plantation:
After a healthy breakfast of Aloo paratha and omelet, we left the beautiful Nature Camp, and bid adieu to the hill station of Daringbadi. We however had two more stops on our itinerary, the first one being the Coffee and Spice Plantation, followed by the Midhubanda Waterfall. Both the places are on the same route that we were planning to undertake on our way back.
First stop was the coffee and spice plantation, which was around 5 kms from the main Daringbadi town. The area is cordoned off using barbed wire fences and a small gate is the only way in. They charge a modest Rs. 20 as an entry fee, to this beautiful abode of huge eucalyptus trees, laden with black pepper creepers.
Unlike the spice plantation I visited in Kerala, this one was quite modest, with main emphasis on Coffee and Black pepper. There are small shops selling locally produced spice and coffee powder, which many tourists prefer taking back as these are believed to be free from any sort of adulteration.
The Scenic Roads:
The road from the spice plantation to the waterfall was one of the most scenic routes one could travel on. Flanked with tall pine and eucalyptus trees on both sides of the road, the hide and seek of the sunlight is something worth experiencing.
Once we left behind the tall trees, then came the barrage of green fields, rolling with the valleys, and turning around the hills. It has to be one of the loneliest of places, with small hamlets spread across vast stretches of land. Soon enough, we were again twisting and turning our car up another series of hairpin bends. The hills were so beautiful, that we couldn’t resist stopping for a few pictures.
A few turns more and we reached a point where a rusty government installed board welcomed us to the Midhubanda waterfall. After paying Rs. 10 entry fee, we started driving down our car to the waterfall. The black top road ended at the descend down a hill, following which it was all gravel, mud and stones, that defined the road.
It wasn’t a difficult drive, given the summer, the road however might become dangerous in monsoon. So if anyone is planning to come in monsoon to witness the full glory of the waterfall, my suggestion would be to leave the car at the entry itself.
Once we reached down the trail, we reached a flat concrete surface that acted as a parking lot for the cars. Beyond this point, one has to rely on their feet. At this point we could hear the waterfall roaring, and we could only imagine how beautiful it might be, however there was a long flight of stairs, that looked overwhelming from this point.
Mustering courage, we started our descent down the stairs, soon to reach a point where the stairs ended and a muddy trail began. The authorities are considerate enough to have placed chairs at various points to aid the weary hike. The whole trail starting from the parking lot to the base of the fall, must be around 500 mtrs long. The only thing that kept us going was the sound of the water gushing and hitting the rocks that was increasing with each passing step.
All our weariness however vanished as we caught the first glimpse of Midhubanda waterfall. So beautiful and satisfying.
I have seen bigger waterfalls, like Athirapally and smaller ones like Khasada, but this fall had something special about it. Usually waterfalls have multiple breaks along the way, but this one had just one prominent rock that split the water jet evenly in all directions. This is as cinematic as waterfalls could get.
After clicking about a million pictures it was time to leave the waterfall. Stopping multiple times on our way up, we reached our car panting like an old dog. We jumped into our car and turned the AC to full. Gulping down water and balancing the car along that rocky road we said good bye to Daringbadi.
I don’t know if we should call Daringbadi the Kashmir of Odisha or not, it definitely is a jewel of Kandhamal district. One of the poorest districts of India, holds one of the most beautiful of places, that’s as contradictory as it can get. The fact that the tourism industry is still in its infancy, as far as the state of Odisha is concerned, is no where more evident that this. This however has also meant that a place as famous as Daringbadi still manages to remain raw, and not overrun by commercialization. I leave it to anyone visiting the place to decide whats better.