Friday, May 24, 2013 By

UNESCO World Heritage Site,Sundarban,WestBengal

"I traveled miles, for many a year,
 I spent a lot in lands afar,
 I’ve gone to see the mountains, the oceans I’ve been to view.
 But I haven’t seen with these eyes
 Just two steps from my home lies
 On a sheaf of paddy grain, a glistening drop of dew."
--A Poem by Rabindra Nath Tagore(Translated in English)

But its so true for me and for many of us.
Sundarbans is not far away from Kolkata,but whenever we have tried to fix a weekend destination we never thought of it.We had started by car from Science City,Kolkata & and it took almost 2 hours to reach Godkhali jetty. After reaching Godkhali we onboarded to our river cruiser arranged by our tour operator as there is no direct option to reach Sundarban by land.Next 2 hours sailing by launch through the various rivers was a lifetime experience and then we were overwhelmed by the vast expanse of blue water,greenaries of mangrove forest,quietness of the surroundings,only the engine sound of the cruiser. It lies at the mouth of the Ganges and is spread across areas of Bangladesh and West Bengal of India,forming the seaward fringe of the delta. God has painted Sundarban with shades of blue and green in winter and it changes color depending upon the season.

Sailing by a motor driven boat
The best part of traveling inside Sundarban is you have to travel by boat\river cruiser through various rivers,numerous canals.No road journey.Even you are not allowed to embark in the river bank.
Flora and Fauna: The mangrove forest is also unique by its nature. The Sundarban's flora is characterized by the abundance of sundari, gewa, goran,hental and keora  all of which occur prominently throughout the area.At the time of high tide  these trees gets submerged into salty water.Famous Royal Bengal Tiger prefers to hide themselves inside hental forests.As the leaves are yellowish green, it is very difficult to spot the royal bengal tiger inside hental jungle.According to the 2011 tiger census, the Sundarbans have about 270 tigers.

The Sundarbans provides a rich wildlife habitat. The core area of the forest is not allowed for visit by tourists,so chances of spotting tiger is very less.It's all about luck. We have seen many fresh pug-marks in the river banks, but not the big wild cat.Except the big cat, there has deer, wild pigs,bat,fox,sajaru(Hedgehog),wild cock,monkey,turtle,snake,crocodile,dolphin and many other animals.In the winter there is high probability of sighting of crocodiles taking sun bath on the muddy salt water riverbanks and we spotted few of them.So Sundarban is the most beautiful and dangerous too.

A Big Monitor Lizard in Sundarban

A verity of birds are also available there – shamuk-khol, kingfisher, pankouri,tiya(parakeet) are populous among them.

Flocks of birds inside a narrow canal of Sundarban

Weather: Best time to visit to Sundarban is winter.We found very pleasant weather in January. We have spent hours after hours in boat cruise.Rainy season should be avoidable at any cost as this time all rivers are over flooded and there is almost situation of flood.Summer is also hot and not ideal for open air boat cruise.These area also heavily affected by cyclonic storm time to time.

Staying and Food: Sundarban is not that kind of place for luxury hotels at per international standards.There are few hotels which provides decent accommodation and local cuisine.Hospitality is not that great kind of / or to be boast of. You won't find any restaurants or shopping centers.Its basically rural area surrounded by various rivers, canals, streams and dense forests.West Bengal Govt has some jungle lodges and that are also very basic levels.We have stayed at Suranjan Holiday Resort  basically it was a package tour of 3days, 2 nights. It was value for money.Sundarban Tiger Camp is also a good option .

A luxury cruiser M. V. Paramhamsa with excellent accommodation, bar, gym, lounge, sky deck sails every Friday for the world's largest Mangrove Forest "Sunderbans" from Kolkata, Millenium Park jetty.I think this is the most convenient way for the outsiders.

Early Morning at Sundarban

Lifestyle of the local people:Without describing the local people,I feel the write up is incomplete.Economic condition of the local people mainly villagers and fisherman are not good. First of all due to salty water,farm land is few and the human habitats gets heavily affected due to frequent attack of flood and cyclonic storms. Main livelihood is catching fish,collecting honey,cutting of jungle woods.Tiger attacks are frequent in the Sundarbans. Between 100 and 250 people are killed per year. We have listened many horrified stories of the man eaters.Basically local poor fisherman,honey collectors and wood cutters are the primary victim. Snake bite is also very high in these area.Many folk heroes,gods and goddesses specific to the Sunderbans like Bonbibi and Dakshin Rai are famous.