Bhubaneswar: Known as an Ayurvedic paradise with abundant flora and fauna, the Gandhamardan hills spread over in Bolangir-Bargarh districts, has now been designated a Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS).
Odisha’s Forest, Environment and Climate Change Department which has issued a notification to this effect, said the Gandhamardan hill, spread over nearly 190 square km, will now have the ‘biodiversity heritage site’ tag under the Odisha Biodiversity Rules – 2012 to protect its fragile ecosystem.
It thus became the third biodiversity heritage site in the state after Mandasuru Gorge in Kandhamal district and Mahendragiri Hill Range in Gajapati.
The forest is spread over two districts – Bargarh and Balangir and is a treasure trove of medicinal plants, the notification said. It has some 1,055 plant species that include 849 angiosperms, 56 Pteridophytes, 40 Bryophytes, 45 Lichens and 02 Gymnosperms and 63 species of Macrofungi.
Similarly, it boasts some 500 species of animals that include 43 Mammal species, 161 Birds, 44 Reptiles, 16 Amphibians, 118 Butterflies, 27 Dragonflies and 7 Damselflies and 83 species of Spiders.
This apart, two historical monuments including the famed Nrusinghanath Temple located on the Northern slope and Harishankar Temple located on the Southern slope of the foothills of Gandhamardan have immense cultural significance.
These two hill shrines are the two major pilgrimage sites of Odisha.
Hiuen Tsang in his chronicles had described this hill shrine as a Buddhist heritage site named Parimalagiri.
“At present, the rich biological resources of this cultural landscape are under pressure due to various anthropogenic and climatic factors, and the traditional ecological knowledge associated with the bio-resources of the hill is declining. The long-term protection, conservation and management of biological resources of the Gandhamardan Hill is of utmost significance for the State,” read the notification.
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