My friend disappeared. We were taking a leisurely post dinner walk after a fairly exciting day. There was a smallish field at the back of the camp, with three tents which were empty at the moment. The solar light illuminated the tiled path and a bit of the grass, there was nothing beyond. There was nothing the eye could fathom. On the other side were the dining area and the other cottages, there was light enough. But this part of the field was in utter darkness. We heard his voice calling us into the darkness. We hesitated. Three men on the verge of their half-centuries felt a tad nervous going into that dense darkness.
It was truly eerie. We slowly went into the darkness. As our sights settled, we started to get a sense of the surroundings. The sky slowly began to untangle itself from the jungle. Our friend was found. He was staring at the heavens. He told us to follow. And it was a heavenly sight. The sky dazzled us with innumerable stars, some twinkling, some little and some bright. Jupiter and Saturn, as we guessed, seemed to be the leaders. And the arm of the milky-way, with a consolidated congregation of stars was dividing the sky in half. Rissia gave us one of the best gifts possible. Not many places can give you the stars.
If you love jungles, you will love this place.
Kuldiha, in Odisha, is an easily accessible place, only one and a half hours from the well connected Balasore.
However, it is still a somewhat overlooked place for jungle lovers. Satkosia draws a lot of people, and the nearby Panchalingeshwar and Chandipur are regular crowdpullers, but Rissia Nature Camp, less than a decade old, is a brilliant find. It is in a small bit of stretch known as Gohirabhola. Statutory warning though, there is no mobile network available. You have to drive for a quarter of an hour (or walk for one) to get a weak signal. Internet may still elude you, but you can do what phones are meant to do, talk to distant people. I guess this is one of the reasons why Rissia remains off the list for many. Remaining unconnected for a handsome amount of time is no longer quite affordable for many. There is another point to note. The tents have front doors, but they can’t be locked. And there is not much point in locking them since the back exit is a velcroed one, and the door between the dressing area and the bedroom (the tents are quite large) are zippered and can be opened from either side. Therefore, there is no question or possibility of locking the tents. A bit of zen is required if you plan to stay there (which we had) or you can take chains and locks for your luggage (which we hadn’t). There is a shaky 10 minute video on YouTube with all the details. If you so wish, you can watch it here. There is just a small other concern. Huge lizards of the darkest kind are there. They hang around the tent walls looking quite cold blooded. But they strictly mind their own business.
Rissia does not bore you, even with a lack of televisions in the tents. There is plenty to do throughout the day. You can visit a number of watchtowers like Joda Chua, which overlook the salt pits, and the watering holes like Kanjipani kund and the Garsimulia waterfall.
Then there is the magnificent Rissia dam. The dam will take your breath away.
Do visit it in the morning too.
Whether you see animals of not is actually irrelevant, you get to see and feel the jungle from within (we ended up seeing a couple of deers, a wild boar, a giant spider and a giant squirrel). The drives through the core areas are wonderful and you get to see a jungle that is alive. Make sure you have permission for yourself (which comes with the booking) and permission for your cameras and vehicle. Of course, most agencies arrange the permission for the drivers themselves. And please do not miss the end of the reservoir that is hidden behind the camp, it is lovely with Water Lilies or Shapla flowers blooming and adding a shade of pink that makes everything lovelier.
If you are lucky, the boating service will be available and you will get to go to a blissful journey full of peace and natural splendour.
The people in the camp are friendly and cooperative within reason. The tents are surprisingly well stacked with basic amenities. The proper concrete toilets are behind the tents. The only curiosity is the tin shades they have built over the tents. They give protection, but look somewhat anomalous.
While returning from Kuldiha please stop at the Nilagiri Jagannath Temple. The temple is small and has very interesting woodwork on its walls. And do enter the Nilagiri Rajbati located right next to it.
It may not have the awe-inspiring splendour one associates with many such, but it is worth visiting as the flavour of a glorious past is left lingering in its premises.
Ours was a long overdue trip with friends who have been friends for at least 36 years. This was a trip where a group of almost 50 year old boys went to unwind and go back to their school days. The stars, the trees, the deer and boars we sighted gave us feelings of wonder that were truly worthy of schoolboys. Rissia allowed us to be free of the world for a couple of moments. We will always be grateful to Rissia for this.
41.2 km from Balasore
Nature camp with solar power and running water (only cold, as the solar water heaters were broken)
Safe from wildlife
Can be booked through https://www.ecotourodisha.com/
Temperature will be quite high in summer
Best time to visit is winter
A trip with multiple families or groups recommended
Private or rented vehicle is a must
Forest permits must be obtained
Earlier Posts: 1. Old Lucknow 2. Colonial Lucknow 3. Going Downhill - Versey to Dentam 4. Going to Garhwal 5. The Walkers 6. Palamau 7. Rishikesh 8. Kolkata Kolkata 9. The Roar of the Clouds - Santiniketan 10. Of Pests and Men - Uttarey 11. Where Hikers Fear to Tread - Rudranath 12. Old Times 13. History in Ruins - Pushpagiri 14. Once There was a Heaven 15. Serenity 16. Pilgrim's Progress - Kedarnath 17. Unfinished - Gaumukh 18. Ghatshila 19. Nothing Important 20. Manu's Alaya - Manali 21. Santiniketan 22. Little Lhasa - Dharamshala 23. From Varuna to Assi - Varanasi 24. Tunganath 25. Transitory Blues 26. Gurudongmar 27. The Beginning 28. Yumesamdong 29. Bangali in Bangkok 30. Mukutmanipur 31. Rasvanti 32. The Old Town and the Sea 33. Budapest 34. The Last Post of 2019 35. Travel Travails 36. Cluj-Napoça 37. Presenting the Past 38. Far From the Urban Crowd 39. Silent Night Sleepless Night 40. Norwich 41. Photo Essay - The Road 42. Photo Story - The Days of the Goddess 43. Badrinath 44. Monumental Mistakes 45. Odyssey Now 46. To the Mountains 47. Keylong 48. Where Moon River is Born 49. Kaza 50. Through the Valley of Spiti 51. Kalpa 52. Sarahan 53. Un-happy Journey (Meghalaya) 54. Shimla 55. Bhalukpong