Built across the Mahanadi River, the Hirakud Dam is 15 kilometers from Sambalpur. The dam was built in the year 1957. It is one of the world’s largest earthen dams and the longest man-made dam in the world. The Hirakud reservoir stretches over 55 kilometers covering an area of 746 square kilometers, the dam itself stretching over 26 kilometers. The shore line is over 640 kilometers. Since India’s independence, this is one of the first major multipurpose river valley projects started. The name of the dam is also sometimes referred to as ‘Hirakund’.
The dyke offers a 21 kilometers long drive. One can see breath taking views from there. There is a rotating minaret called the Gandhi Minar from the top of which one can see awesome views of the dam as well as the river. There is another such minaret called the Nehru Minar on the other side of the dam which offers same views.
Place to visit:
Cattle Island: It is situated near the Kumarbandh village which is about 90 kilometers from the Sambalpur town. Forming part of a submerged hill, this island used to be a developed village until the construction of the Hirakud Dam started. The place derived its name from the fact that all the animals that inhabited the place belonged to the cattle group. During the resettlement period, the folks left the animals on their own. As the time progressed, the cattle grew stronger and grew wilder. They are bigger than the normal cattle. People have tried to capture them but have failed to do so.
Wildlife: The dam and the channel provide an ideal environment for the growth of wildlife. The Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary is present here. Various birds are seen migrating over the reservoir during the winter season. The common species of birds seen in the reservoir are Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, besides others.
Vimaleswar Temple: The Vimaleswar Temple is present the town of Huma, near Sambalpur. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The most striking feature of the temple is that the temple is slightly inclined to an angle. The nearby river has a large population of Kudo fish. It is believed that these fish can never be caught as they belong to Lord Vimaleswar. The peculiar architecture of the temple attracts many devotees, scholars, researchers and historians from all over the world. Many people gather here on the occasion of Mahashivratri.
Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary: The Ushakothi wildlife sanctuary is worth a visit. It is situated 43 kilometers north-east of Sambalpur. It stretches for more than 130 kilometers. There are many different species present in the sanctuary such as elephants, tigers, gours, sambars, black panthers, deer, spotted deer and wild bears, etc. There are two watch towers present inside the sanctuary from where you can catch glimpses of the wildlife.
Hatibari: It is situated 24 kilometers towards the south of Sambalpur. Dense forests are present in the entire area. This place is also known as the Karma Bhumi of Padmashree Dr. Isaac Satra. A famous Leper Home was started here by him.
How to reach
By rail: Sambalpur has two railway stations, the main Khetrajpur and the Sambalpur Road Station. The main station is about 3 km from the city centre whereas the second one is a little closer and most trains also stop here.
By bus: There are also two bus stands (Govt. and the private), about 3 km from the city centre, the main VSS Marg Bus stand, Private bus stand. The private stand has more regular services to major towns in the area. Regular buses go to Bhubaneswar, Puri and Cuttack. Private operated ‘Video Coaches’ also leave at night from Sambalpur’s main roads for Bhubaneswar and Raipur (in Chhattisgarh).