Paralakhemundi: Even as Gajapati district is rich in natural scenic beauty—a big draw for tourists round the year, several tourist places in the district await development, a report said.
The district is endowed with well-known waterfalls and Gandahati situated in Rayagada block. It is one of the major draws of Paralakhemundi zamindari, which was once inhabited by a large population of elephants.
Gandahati waterfall is surrounded by dense forest. Its scenic beauty amidst green lustre has been attracting visitors from different parts of the state and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. The waterfall beckons tourists for its consistent water flow throughout the year.
The tribal-populated Gajapati district also has a few other waterfalls namely Gudguda near Jiranga village under Rayagada block, Mankadadian under R Udayagiri block, Khasada at Chandragiri under Mohana block are well-known as the major tourist spots.
However, Gandahati is the only waterfall of Gajapati district which has been recognised by the state tourism department. The revenue collected from this waterfall has always contributed to district’s economy.
In the absence of adequate road connectivity to these tourist places, except to Gandahati waterfall, tourists get detracted affecting revenue generation. If the district administration and the state government shun apathetic attitude, Gajapati district will get its due place on the state’s tourism map, locals lamented.
Mahendragiri, which is regarded as a ‘Kula Parvat’, is a mountain peak located at Paralakhemundi subdivision of Gajapati district. It is situated amongst the Eastern Ghats at an elevation of 4,925ft and is associated with mythological stories from epic Ramayana.
As mentioned in the puranas and epic Mahabharat, it is believed that Parshuram practised penance for a long time on the Mahendra parvat. Mahendragiri hill and its surrounding forest cover have numerous medicinal and other species of plants.
Mahendragiri hill is also home to over 600 flowering plants. An expert committee had recommended in 2014 that biodiversity hotspots on the mountain peak should be declared as a biosphere reserve.
Floral and faunal diversity of this region is huge, for being a herpetofaunal hotspot. This tourist location has also suffered due to red tape. Despite being proposed by the Union ministry of environment and forests in 1986 to declare it as a biodiversity hotspot, it failed to wake the state government so far from its slumber, local intelligentsia opined.
Notably, Gajapati district was named after the Maharaja Sri Krushna Chandra Gajapati Narayan Deo, ex-Raja Sahib of Paralakhemundi estate and 1st Prime Minister of Odisha state, who is remembered for his contributions in the formation of a separate Odisha province.