Take a river boat journey through the mysterious marsh lands of Sunderbans to spot royalty on four legs!
Spread in an area of 4264 sq. Km, Sunderbans are the largest delta in the world spread over India and Bangladesh. The Sunderbans reserve forest is a network of channels and semi-submerged mangroves that forms a part of the world’s largest delta. It is the largest tiger reserve and national park in India. The delta is formed by the mighty rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Megha. World’s largest estuarine forests, Sunderbans are located at the lower end of the gangetic west Bengal.
A trip to this watery world heritage site is a rewarding experience. Cruising through the waterways and seemingly impenetrable mangrove forests on river launches or boats and looking out for wild life is a sublime experience away from the humdrums of Kolkata city. It is one of the most attractive and alluring places I have been to. Sitting on a river launch and watching the wonders of Sunderbans go by is an amazing and unforgettable experience.
Wild life at Sunderbans
The biodiversity of Sunderbans is appealing and charismatic.it is a paradise for bird watchers. The birds of Sunderbans include rare species such as Masked Finfoot, Mangrove Pitta and the Mangrove Whistler.
Royal Bengal tiger, known to have an appetite for humans are lurking in the impenetrable depths of the mangrove forests. They have also acquired the ability of swimming across water channels. Sighting of a Royal Bengal Tiger is not very common as they are considered shy creatures in spite of their ferocity but our group was lucky to spot one even though we couldn’t click any pictures. Tiger or no Tiger, Sunderbans should be visited for its charm and scenic locales.
Other prevalent wildlife in the Sunderbans is inclusive of Chital deer and Rhesus monkey. The aquatic fauna of Sunderbans comprises of a variety of fishes, red fiddler crabs, hermit crabs, crocodile on the mud banks, and Ridley sea turtles. An immensely diverse reptile population includes of King Cobra, Rock Python, and Water Monitor. Endangered River Terrapin, Batagur Basaka (exclusively found on the Mechua beach) and barking deer (on Holiday Island) can also be spotted.
Other activities one can indulge in is a visit to a typical Sunderbans village filled with stories of Royal Bengal Tigers and giving you an insight in the local lifestyle, local farming conditions, honey packing, fishing and other prevalent trades. Following sunset, a culturally rich mythological folk drama by the local artists accompanied by a traditional Bengali meal is also a high point of the Sunderbans trip. A crocodile project farm should also be visited before returning from Sunderbans.
P.S. Permits are required for foreign tourists to visit the Sunderbans Tiger Reserves. These are available at the forest department in the Writer’s building, Kolkata.
How to get there
Easiest way to reach Sunderbans is by bus which can be taken from Babu Ghat to Sonakhali. From Sonakhali, take a boat to Gosaba.
Sleeping and eating
The West Bengal tourism center organizes weekly boat cruises during high season with on board accommodation and food.
Sunderban tiger camp is another option with excellent guides, comfortable accommodation, good food and even a bar.