Constructed across the Mahanadi River in Orissa is the Hirakud Dam, which is hailed as one of the longest man-made dams in the world. This marvellous construction was built in the year 1956, and owing to its location has an ideal atmosphere for wildlife to flourish. The Hirakud Reservoir is also situated in the close vicinity of the dam and is a focal point of interest for tourists and large flocks of birds as well. A number of migratory birds fly towards this destination during the winter season, and some of the common ones that can be spotted here include Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard and Great Crested Grebe.
Any nature lover will enjoy the quaint atmosphere and lush greenery that is in abundance at the Hirakud Dam. The dam stretches over a length of 4.8 kilometres and spans between the Burla and Hirakund hill. In addition to being a stunning natural beauty, the dam is also responsible for a 307.5-megawatt power generation and the irrigation of 3,90,000 acres of land area stretching across Sambalpur, Bargarh and Subarnapur district. Situated near the Hirakud Dam is a hill called Budharaja hill which the Budharaja temple at its peak. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this shrine has breathtaking views of the dam from its summit. Another temple which is a must-visit in Hirakud is the Ghanteshwari Temple which served as a lighthouse for the incoming ships and the bells were used to warn the sailors. Visit this destination for a tranquil getaway in the lap of nature.
The Hirakud Dam is an excellent example of the engineering genius of the country and is a composite structure of soil, concrete and masonry. The dam is 4.8 kilometres in length and has been very intelligently constructed across the two hills of Burla and Hirakund. Adjacent to the dam on both sides are earthen dykes, and together they form one of the largest artificial lake in India as well. Known as the Hirakud Reservoir, the water body has a shoreline of over 639 km. There are two observation towers on the dam one at each side. One is the "Gandhi Minar" and the other one is the "Nehru Minar". Both the observation towers present fantastic views of the lake.
The climate of this place is very extreme, temperature rising to about 40 degrees Celcius in summer and descending about as low as 1 degrees Celcius in winter. The place receives heavy rainfall during the rainy season. The best time to visit Sambalpur is from September to March as the weather is mostly pleasant during this time. The months of February, November and December are also ideal for travelling to this town.
The Hirakud Railway Station is located nearby across the river Mahanadi, and you can hop aboard a train to reach the dam. Buses service is also available in different parts of Hirakud due to Hirakud Dam's close vicinity to Highway 6. Taxis and cabs are available to go in and around the place.
Budharaja Temple, Ghanteswari Temple, Leaning Temple of Lord Shiva are some places of worship one can head to while visiting Hirakud dam. The Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary situated here is visited by a number of tourists each year. You can see a variety of species of migratory birds coming to the reservoir during the winter season here. These are some of the places for sightseeing in the place.
Sambalpur is famous for its hand looms and textile industry. This place is popular for its Sambalpuri Sarees. Gole Bazaar is the main shopping centre. Price can range from a few hundred to a hundred thousand rupees. There are many shops in the city, but the most famous shops can be spotted in Gole Bazar. An emerging Big Bazar and a whole complex in the City Centre mall is on Modipara road.
Sambalpur is one of the major cities of Western Orissa. Nestled in the lap of nature, Sambalpur has a unique culture amalgamated with modern and tribal culture of the forest region. The language, festivals, songs and dances and people are deeply connected with the cultural heritage of Sambalpur.
Hirakud Dam is best seen on a trip to Sambalpur. Reach Sambalpur and check into a hotel. Leave for a visit to Hirakud Dam. You can hire a taxi for that. After visiting the dam, visit the wildlife sanctuary near the reservoir. After this have your lunch at a nearby good restaurant where you can enjoy the local cuisine of the place. While here, one can also visit the many other attractions of Sambalpur. Huma Temple, Badrama-usakothi wildlife sanctuary and Deulajhari are some places you can head to.