- Location: India
- Attraction Type: Natural
- Best Time to Visit: September to March
- How to Reach: Kolkata is easily accessible from Sundarbans. Direct ferry services are available between Kolkata and the Sundarbans.
- Nearest International Airport: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata
When in Sunderban, resist from mentioning the tiger by its name. Refer to it in an oblique way, particularly at night because when you mention its name, the custom has it that it promptly appears like the proverbial devil! It is the land of myths and dark legends of the beautiful and ferocious Royal Bengal tigers and desperate bandit groups celebrated in countless folklore and literary works. The narratives of hapless journeymen and honey-collectors who sail their dinghies through the marshes and the brackish water inlets in these dangerous parts contribute to its endearing mystery: the Sunderban.
Sundarban, also known as the Sundarban National Park is the largest delta in the world. It is formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Meghana and Brahmaputra rivers. The region is the largest estuarine sanctuary in the world. It is located in the state of West Bengal in India. A part of it also stretches to Bangladesh. Making a trip to Sundarban is an experience that you will cherish all through your life.
The name Sundarban is derived from the Sundari trees that abundantly grow in the region. The national park is also listed among the world heritage sites by the UNESCO. The entire area is surrounded by small canals and rivers like Malta, Bidya, Meghana and lots more. The ideal time for making trips to the Sundarban is between the months of September and March when the weather is fine.
You will simply be stunned by the scenic beauty of Sundarban. The national park is also home to a wide range of flora and fauna. The greenery include rare and majestic trees including Sundari, from where the delta gets its name, along with Dhundal, Gurjan, Kankra and Passur. The stately Goran trees are found here in abundance. However, as you watch these trees that loom high above your head, do not forget to watch your feet, because the sharp breathing roots jut out of the marsh.
This pristine greenery is a habitat for a large number of extremely beautiful exotic wild animals. The most famous, of course, is Royal Bengal Tiger, famous all over the world for its grace and wild charm. Other species that inhabit the Sundarbans are the spotted deer, wild pigs, monkeys, crocodiles, Ridley Sea Turtles, fishing cats, and wild cats. Sunderbans is an ornithologist’s paradise, because of the large number of birds that frequent the forest. Some of the most notable avian species are the heron, the egret, cormorant, white-bellied sea Eagle, tern, and kingfishers. Apart from the these endemic species, there are a number of migratory birds as well that visit the Sunderbans like the Eastern Knot, Curlew, Golden Plover, Pintail and White-eyed Pochard.
Sunderbans is largely riverine region, and the waters have an ecology as diverse and rich as the forest. The hand shelled Batgur Terrapin, the Olive Ridley turtle and the crocodiles inhabit these waters. Some of the reptiles you can expect to encounter during your Sunderban tour are Pythons, King Cobra, Monitor and Salvator lizards.
Things to do
You can embark on safari and wildlife trips to the Sundarban National Park. A trip in the forest will help you experience the scenic beauty of the place. Unlike other national parks and sanctuaries, safari trips in the national park are made in boats and vessels. A visit to the local villages is also a pleasant experience. It provides you a deep insight into the rich tradition and culture of the local tribal communities. You will also be struck by the valor with which these people live in close proximity to the creatures of the wild. Just as the villagers depend largely on the forest for survival, it is not infrequent when there are wild animal attacks in the villages. This is the way they have lived for centuries, it is an unbelievable symbiosis.
Do not forget to visit the Banbibi temple, the shrine of the goddess of the forest and the temple of Shiber Kumar (or the crocodile of Lord Shiva) on the fringes of the forest. Not only will you be surprised at the way the local inhabitants have inculcated the forest in their belief system and faith structure, making it an integral part of their persona, but also by the sheer richness of this myth. The famous temple of Kapil Muni, around which the famous Sagar fair is held every year, can also be visited during your visit here.
You can stay in some of the forest resorts and lodges of the West Bengal Forest Department. They are located in places like Basanti, Sajnekhali, Bhagabatpur, and Piyali. From these places, you can undertake boating trips to the national park. MV Chitrarekha, a luxury vessel owned by the West Bengal Department of Tourism, has great facilities for onboard stay. Please get in touch with the concerned Department for permissions and advanced bookings. There are a number of local vessels as well, but the governance arrangements are definitely preferable. Dining
You can visit the local dining hubs and have a taste of mouth-watering local delicacies. The rivers are sources of excellent fish that can be caught and prepared on spot, and make for great lunch.