The abundance of red silk cotton trees called Simili in the forests of this sanctuary has given it its name Simlipal. The sanctuary lies on the Chotnagpur Plateau in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. The dry burning forests of this sanctuary are known for being the home to around 100 fierce Royal Bengal Tigers. The erstwhile hunting grounds of the Mayurbhanj Royal family, this sanctuary has been declared a tiger reserve in 1956 and became an integral part of the project tiger launched to save these royal beast from extinction since from the initial phases of its implementation in 1973. The woods of the sanctuary are also known for being the dwellings for around 432 wild Asian elephants.
Pithabata and Joshipur are the main entrances for this sanctuary spread in an area of 2,750 KM2. Spread in an area covered with dense forests and hillocks around 12 rivers crisscross the plains of Simlipal. The waterfalls of Barehipani and Joranda renders picturesque beauty to the park and make them popular picnic spots while the rock beds of Rivers like Ramathirtha, Budhabalanga, Deo, Palpala Bandan and Kahairi serves as trekking points.
Mugger crocodile scheme was launched in the Ramathirtha River to save the population of Muggers from extinction in the year 1979 in Simlipal. Apart from the Royal Bengal Tigers, Wild Asian Elephants and Mugger Crocodile which are the flagship species of the sanctuary, it is home for 42 species of mammals, 242 species of avian and 30 species of reptiles.
Leopards, Barking Deer, Sambar, Wild Boar, Chausinghas, Gaur, Chital, Chevrotians, Wild Dog, Sloth Bear, Monkey, Mongoose, Hayenas, Porcupines, Jungle Cat and common Langurs are the commonly sighted mamalians of Simlipal.
Red Jungle Fowls, Hill Mynah, Peafowl, Alexandring Parakeet, Peacock, Crested Serpent Eagle, Grey Hornbill, Indian Trogon, Indian Pied Hornbill and Malabar Pied Hornbill are the significant birds nesting in the forests of Simlipal.
The reptilian population of the sanctuary includes many breeds of Turtels, Snakes like Python, Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles, Flying Squirrels and Giant Squirrels.
1076 species of various plants belonging to 102 families are found in the forests of Simlipal. The forest type of Simlipal has been categorized into five segments. Viz. semi evergreen forest found in the areas of heavy rainfall, tropical moist broad leaf forest, tropical moist deciduous forest, dry deciduous hill forests and high level sal forests. The long strech of savanna grasslands serves as food for the herbivores and hiding place for the predators. It also has 96 varities of Orchids. The trees of Eucalyptus planted by the Britishers around 1900 A.D can also be seen in the forests of Simlipal. These jungles of the sanctuary has numerous medicinal and aromatic plants which has been serving as a livelihood for the local Santhali tribes for ages.
The park remains open for tourists between October to June. The heavy downpour during the monsoon resticts the movement inside the national park as most of the rivers remain overflow during this season, the sanctuary remains closed all through the monsoons.
The entry permits are available on payment of a nominal fees and the park remains open between 6:00 AM - 12:00 Noon.
Jamshedpur is the nearest airport to Simlipal.
Baripada which is at a distance of 50 km from Simlipal is the nearest railhead and it is well connected with the rest of the cities of Odisha and all the major railheads of India through the network of India Railways.
Simlipal is well connected through roads to Baripada, Jamshedpur, state capital Bhubaneswar and all the major cities of Odisha.