Kashmir of Orissa - Daringbari

Daringbari, one of the unexplored beauty of Orissa located in the Kandhamal district is often coined as the Kashmir of Orissa. Why is it compared to Kashmir? Localites claim that about 50 years ago this hilltop used to receive snowfall. Whether it was a truth or a gravevine, it did not affect us or will affect anyone from enjoying the beauty of nature.

However, it is also good to inform that Daringibadi hill station's temperature ranges between 15 to 28 degree centigrade during summer, 8 - 22 during monsoon, 2 - 12 during winter. So it's a place to visit whole round the year. At least when we reached Daringbari on 15th August it was quite cool. So to say in 1 words, light woollens are a must.

Daringbari is at the height of 3000 ft from the sea level. Distance of Daringbari is around 250 kms to the south of Bhubaneshwar. The nearest railway station to reach Daringbari is Berhampur which is 130 Kms to the north. The drive from Bhubaneshwar to Daringbari is mindblowing especially the last 22 kms i.e. the Eastern Ghat Roads. Here the road is covered with deep Sal Forest in the 2 sides of the road and taking sharp turns almost looks like a narrow decorated strip of ribbon.

There are 2 routes to reach Daringbiri. One route is via NH 217 which passes through Phulbani. Though this route is longer but it is good and safe for travelling. It climbs the Ghats in the last part of the journey. There is another route which turns away from Surda. This route is shorter and has its own beauty. One has to cross the Ghats twice. There is a stretch of Forest as well. You will also come across Haribhangi Dam.

This route is a little lonely and should be avoided during Night time. Chances of getting shops are limited so it is advisable to carry packet foods and water with you while travelling this way.

Places to Stay:
There are very few options to stay here at Daringbari. There is a PWD Bungalow with two double-bed rooms, at Rs 100 per bed. A new Panthashala accommodation has recently been built with four double-bed rooms, at Rs 100 per bed.
For bookings, contact Utkal Bhavan (Orissa Tourism), 55 Lenin Sarani, 22443653, 22441195. Or just land up at the ashram at Daringbari bus stop. Else one can contact any OTDC office in the city (if any).

There is also another place called Deers Eco Tourist Lodge which is costly among the lot and is a little distance from the bus stop, but the road to reach the place has its own beauty.

We had a wonderful time in Daringbari in the Deers Eco Tourist Lodge (Tel:-9338880894, 9438422452, email: deersindia@yahoo.com), fortunately or un-fortunately we landed up at a time when there was no power for 2-3 days in the entire Daringbari. This was a blessing in disguise as we could enjoy the beauty of nature in its raw form. Travelers be prepared for this situation as well and have your torches packed among other necessary items.

Places to visit
The place is an attraction by itself. To add to the beauty, there are also few sight scenes spots to mention for more traditional tourists like hill viewpoint and coffee garden. The Hill view point has a amazing view of the Hills around Daringbari. The coffee plantation garden, especially during the winter, with its red berries and white flowers turns into a colorful vista. Visit the coffee garden in the late afternoon when the sun is fading and you will hear drums beating from the nearest Santal villages, which makes the atmosphere even more charming. But note that there can be harmful insects in the coffee plantation garden so wear shoes and clothes covering the legs when entering the garden.

Interesting to note here that Coffee is a small understory tree or shrub, and has traditionally been grown amongst forest trees, in the shade. Here the coffee plantation is grown amongst the forest of cardamon trees.

Among other places of interest here is a place called Lover's Paradise. Taking a turn within the forest is a place where there is a sharp stream of water flowing through. The beauty of the place is rightly termed as Lovers Paradise.

Nearby Places
One can also visit the Taptapani Forest and the Hotwater Spring while coming back from Daringbari.

Though the place is not a very common destination yet I hope this travelogue will attract more and more adventure loving people to visit this beauty of nature, but as a caution do not destroy the beauty of nature and keep it neat and clean as it is now.

Signing off from the virtual tour of Daringbari....