Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve UPSC

The Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is a protected area located in the eastern part of India, specifically in the state of Odisha. It encompasses a vast region that includes portions of the Eastern Ghats, a mountain range that runs parallel to the eastern coast of India.

The biosphere reserve holds cultural importance as well. It is believed to be associated with various myths and legends from Hindu mythology. Mahendragiri, the peak after which the reserve is named, is considered a sacred site and holds religious significance for devotees.

Table of Contents

  • Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Location
  • Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve History
  • Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Area
  • Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Hills
  • Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve River
  • Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Tribe
    • Soura People
    • Kandha Tribe
  • Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Flora
  • Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
  • Top Things to do in Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve
  • Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve UPSC Questions

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Location

The Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is located in the Gajapati and Ganjam districts of the state of Odisha, India. It is situated in the eastern part of the country, near the eastern coast.

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is the Visakhapatnam Airport (also known as the Visakhapatnam International Airport), located in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. It is approximately 240 kilometers (149 miles) away from the biosphere reserve.

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Nearest Railway Station:

 As for the nearest railway station, the Berhampur Railway Station in Ganjam district, Odisha, is the closest option. It is located approximately 90 kilometers (56 miles) from the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve.

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve History

The history of the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is closely linked to the ecological and cultural heritage of the region. While specific historical details about the reserve itself might be limited, the area has a long-standing history of human habitation and reverence.

Cultural Significance: The region around Mahendragiri has a rich cultural and mythological significance. It is believed to be associated with various legends from Hindu mythology. According to the ancient epic Mahabharata, it is said that Lord Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, performed penance on the slopes of Mahendragiri. The place holds religious importance for devotees and attracts pilgrims.

Indigenous Communities: The Mahendragiri region is home to several indigenous communities who have resided in the area for generations. These communities have developed their own unique traditions, practices, and knowledge systems, which are closely linked to the natural environment. Preserving their cultural heritage and traditional ecological knowledge is an important aspect of the biosphere reserve's conservation efforts.

Biosphere Reserve Proposal: In 2021, the Government of Odisha has put forward a formal proposal to designate a second biosphere reserve in Mahendragiri. This indicates their intention to recognize and protect the ecological value of the region.

Conservation Initiatives: The establishment of the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is part of a broader conservation initiative in India. Biosphere reserves are designated to protect and conserve unique ecosystems and promote sustainable development practices. The creation of the reserve highlights the recognition of the area's ecological importance and the need to preserve its biodiversity.

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Area

The Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve covers an expansive area of approximately 4,709.55 square kilometers. This vast expanse allows for the preservation and conservation of the diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity found within the reserve.


Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Hills

The Mahendragiri Hills are a prominent geographical feature within the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve. Located in the eastern part of India, in the state of Odisha, the Mahendragiri Hills are part of the Eastern Ghats mountain range. These hills are known for their natural beauty, breathtaking vistas, and diverse ecosystems.

The Mahendragiri Hills have a significant cultural and mythological significance. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that Lord Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, performed penance on these hills. As a result, the hills are considered sacred by devotees and attract pilgrims.

From an ecological perspective, the Mahendragiri Hills support a wide range of plant and animal species. The hilly terrain provides diverse habitats, including forests, grasslands, and streams, which contribute to the rich biodiversity found in the region. Various species of flora and fauna, including endemic and endangered ones, call the Mahendragiri Hills their home.

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve River

The Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is blessed with several rivers and water bodies that contribute to its ecological richness and support diverse ecosystems.  

Here are a few rivers that are in proximity to the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve:

(1) Rushikulya River:

The Rushikulya River flows through the Ganjam district of Odisha, which is adjacent to the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve. It is known for its significance as an arribada nesting site for Olive Ridley sea turtles.

(2) Bahuda River:

Bahuda River is another notable river located near the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve. It also passes through the Ganjam district and contributes to the water resources and ecosystem in the region.

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Tribe

The Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is home to several indigenous tribal communities who have a deep connection with the land and its natural resources. These tribes have been living in the region for generations and have developed unique cultures, traditions, and knowledge systems that are closely intertwined with the surrounding environment.

The presence of the Soura people and the Kandha tribe in the Mahendragiri region highlights the cultural diversity and indigenous heritage of the area. Here is some additional information about these tribes:

(1) Soura People:

The Soura people, also known as the Savara or Saora, are an indigenous tribal group primarily found in the hilly regions of Odisha, including parts of the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve. They have their distinct language, customs, and cultural practices. The Soura people traditionally depend on agriculture, forest resources, and minor forest produce for their livelihoods. They have a rich cultural heritage, including unique folk songs, dances, and traditional handicrafts.

(2) Kandha Tribe:

The Kandha tribe, also known as the Kondh or Kondha, is another indigenous community found in the hilly areas of Odisha. They are one of the largest tribal groups in the region and have a strong presence in the Mahendragiri vicinity. The Kandha tribe has a rich cultural heritage, with unique rituals, music, and art forms. They have a close connection with the land, practicing shifting agriculture and traditional knowledge of forest resources.

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Flora

The Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve boasts a diverse and unique flora due to its location in the Eastern Ghats mountain range and the presence of different ecosystems within the reserve. The flora found in the biosphere reserve includes a variety of plant species, ranging from tropical evergreen forests to dry deciduous forests and scrublands. 

Some of the prominent flora found in the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve may include:

(1) Tropical Evergreen Forest Species:

These forests are characterized by a dense canopy of evergreen trees that retain their foliage throughout the year. Trees like Sal (Shorea robusta), Piasal (Pentacme suavis), and Amoora (Amoora wallichii) are common in this habitat.

(2) Dry Deciduous Forest Species:

These forests experience distinct wet and dry seasons, leading to the shedding of leaves during the dry period. Species such as Teak (Tectona grandis), Terminalia species, Anogeissus latifolia, and Lagerstroemia species are often found in these forests.

(3) Bamboo:

Bamboo species, such as Dendrocalamus strictus and Bambusa arundinacea, are prevalent in the biosphere reserve. They play an essential role in providing habitat for wildlife and offering a variety of uses for the local communities.

(4) Medicinal Plants:

The region is also known for its rich diversity of medicinal plants. Various herbs and plants like Aloe vera, Neem (Azadirachta indica), and Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) have medicinal properties and are traditionally used by local communities.

(5) Grasslands and Scrublands:

The biosphere reserve may have areas of grasslands and scrublands, which support unique flora adapted to drier conditions. These areas often consist of various grass species and shrubs, contributing to the overall biodiversity of the region.

(6) Endemic Species:

The Eastern Ghats region, including the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve, is home to several endemic plant species. These are species that are found only in this specific geographic area and are of significant conservation value.

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Fauna (Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve Animals)

The Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve supports a wide array of fauna, including diverse animal species that thrive in its various ecosystems. The reserve's location in the Eastern Ghats and the presence of forests, hills, and other habitats contribute to its rich biodiversity. 

Here are some examples of the fauna that inhabit the region:


  • Indian Elephant
  • Indian Gaur
  • Sloth Bear
  • Sambar Deer
  • Indian Leopard
  • Indian Giant Squirrel
  • Rhesus Macaque
  • Indian Pangolin 
  • Indian Wild Dog


  • Indian Peafowl
  • Indian Pitta
  • Indian Paradise Flycatcher
  • White-rumped Shama
  • Asian Fairy Bluebird
  • Crested Serpent Eagle
  • Indian Roller 
  • White-bellied Woodpecker


  • Indian Cobra
  • King Cobra
  • Russell's Viper
  • Indian Rock Python
  • Common Monitor Lizard
  • Indian Chameleon
  • Common Indian Skink

Top Things to do in Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve

The Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve offers a range of activities and experiences for visitors to enjoy its natural beauty and biodiversity. Here are some top things to do in the Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve:

  • Nature Trails and Hiking
  • Wildlife Spotting
  • Birdwatching
  • Photography and Nature Appreciation
  • Cultural Immersio
  • Picnicking and Relaxation
  • Educational Visits and Interpretive Centers
  • Nature Conservation and Volunteering

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve UPSC Questions

Q. Where is Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve located?

A. The Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve is located in the Gajapati and Ganjam districts of the state of Odisha, India.

Q. What is the Biosphere Reserve of Mahendragiri?

A. The Biosphere Reserve of Mahendragiri refers to a designated area in the Eastern Ghats of Odisha, India, that has been recognized and protected for its unique ecological significance. It encompasses a diverse range of habitats, including hills, forests, rivers, and lakes, which support a wide variety of plant and animal species.

Mahendragiri Biosphere Reserve

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