The largest delta in the world – the Sundarbans.
You arrive at the banks of a slushy looking River junction which is the confluence of Bhramaputra and Ganga, which is about 3 hours away from main city of Kolkata in India. You can travel from Kolkata to Gosaba which takes around three hours, and then take a boat from Godkhali Port to Sajnekhali which gain takes about two hours. It is a very rough village tour so be prepared for exactly that – a rough jungle tour!
The Malta divides Sundarban Reserved Forest into Sundarban Tiger Reserve on the east and Reserved Forest of South 24 Parganas Forest Division on the west.
A rustic loud motor engine ferry boat takes you down the muddy river passing luscious green thickets of mangrove plantations which expand on both sides of the river.
The region is covered solely by sediments carried and deposited by the rivers Ganges, Matla and Bidyadhari.
The boat cruise can cost you anything between Rs 1500/- to 2000/- and it is very important to hire a guide to show you the real good spots of tourism. The boatmen are very informative and you should always chat them up for some more information about the inside stories about the mangrove sites.
Where ever you look you see mangrove foliage and I guess the name may have been derived from the Sundari trees which is the actual the mangrove species Heritiera fomes.
Twenty-six of the fifty broad mangrove types found in the world grow well in the Sundarbans. The commonly identifiable vegetation that grow in the dense mangrove forests at the Sundarbans are salt water mixed forest, mangrove scrub, brackish water mixed forest, littoral forest, wet forest and wet alluvial grass forests.
So, whatever you do, try not to get into the dangerous waters or banks. Stay on your boat for the entire cruise unless you are required to visit the watch tower and museum.
The Sundarbans are the largest mangrove belt in the world, stretching about 50 miles into the Bangladeshi and Indian hinterland from the coast.
The Sundarbans has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site now and the forests aren’t just mangrove swamps though, they include some of the last remaining stands of the mighty jungles which once covered the Gangetic plain.
I was lucky to spend more time among the gypsy fishing villagers rather than the jungle zones. Singing songs with the schools kids and clapping to their music was the most simplest sort of bliss one could ever experience away from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
Visiting a small classroom hutment area and creeks where the fishing boats rest are much better insightful spots you can choose after your river cruise is over. Life in a village doesn’t get simpler than this.No amount of money can buy this sort of enlightenment, believe me.
Sundarbans is the only mangrove forest in the world which is home to the tigers. Sundarbans Tiger Reserve has the highest tiger population in the world. But don’t be hopeful of seeing any tigers though. They’re very shy and usually remain well hidden in the reserve.
Sundarbans’ highly productive ecosystem acts as a natural fish nursery. Sundarbans Mangroves save the Bengal state from a lot of flood lashes and actually protect the inter-land.
- Hiron Point a beautiful spot, great for spotting tigers and other wildlife
- Tin Kona Island another popular spot for wildlife spotting.
- Katka a base for safaris, and good spot to see tigers and for bird-watching.
- Dublar Char Island it’s possible to fish here.
- Sudhanyakhali Watch Tower - Most of the tigers are sighted from this tower. Some other wildlife like axis deers and crocodiles may also be seen from this watch tower.
- Sajnekhali Watch Tower - Another watch tower that also houses a museum, a Bonobibi Temple and a crocodile park within its premises.
- Sajnekhali Pakiralaya
- Dobanki Watch Tower
- Bhagbatpur crocodile project
- Netidhopani - It has a temple that’s 400 years old
- Kanak - Ideal for viewing the Olive Ridley Turtles
Royal Bengal Tigers are the main draw, but you can also spot Saltwater Crocodiles, various primates, leopards, King Cobras and Indian Cobras.
Sundarbans is home to many different species of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and fishes. The Gangetic River Dolphin is common in the rivers.
I was thrilled to see Chital deer, rhesus monkey, and hermit crabs at the river banks. There is an incredible variety of reptiles also found in Sundarbans, which includes king cobra, rock python and water monitor. Sunderbans is also a breeding ground of innumerable varieties of birds like egret, cormorant, fishing eagle, seagull, kingfisher, golden plover, pintail and whistling teal.
The Sundarbans National Park has also been nominated for the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’ – chosen by people through a global poll. It is a protected area for its biodiversity conservation owing to its rich ecology and a two day trip should let you soak in the sheer ecology.
It is extremely hot in the months of March, April and May, so be warned, choose any day between October to February and you shall have yourself a good ecologically filled mangrove delta trip of a lifetime!
This entry has been shortlisted for Holidify’s Travelogue Writing Contest in association with Linger. The content and pictures may not be used without prior permission of the author.
Submitted by: Elsie Gabriel
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