The Sunderbans are located in West Bengal and on the largest Delta in the world. This is one of the reasons why it is also a Biosphere Reserve. The Sunderban National Park stretches for over 10,200 square kilometers and there are vast stretches of Mangrove Forest Land throughout the jungle. Part of the national park also happens to fall in Bangladesh, and the forest has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The Sunderban Tiger Reserve here happens to be one of the largest in the world and is the natural habitat for the famous Royal Bengal Tigers, the largest and most ferocious of its species.
The Sunderbans is among the top spots for jungle safaris in the country. Apart from tigers, crocodiles can be seen here as well and fresh water dolphins can also be seen from time to time. As it is situated on the largest delta in the world, the soil of the forest is very fertile and sustains a large variety of trees, apart from the mangroves, which can be distinguished from their roots over the soil as the area is prone to flooding and experiences high tides. The Sunderbans National Park timings are from 8 am to 6 pm from Monday to Friday and from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday. Sundays are closed.
The thing about Sunderbans is that it still has a somewhat primitive feel to it and you will have a feeling that you are far from civilization. Those who are truly into forests and jungles have often explored Sunderbans on their own and tried getting to know the people of the place. They live at the edge of the forests and worship the Bengal Tiger, who is known as “Dakshin Ray”. The protector of the forest is “Ban-Bibi” and there are various folklores dedicated to her. The rural population of the forest stays deep within its premises and goes into the jungle everyday to collect honey from the trees with nothing but armed with a stick or a spear. They live with bears and tigers on land and when they go for fishing in the rivers, they have crocodiles and alligators for company. Crabs and prawns are found aplenty here. Life for them is tough and yet they do not want to change anything.
The mangrove forests are unique and because the area is so prone to flooding, the trees have adapted themselves and the roots grow above the soil and can be seen as spiked raised over the water even when the area is flooded. The ecology of the region is very different and is unlike any other delta in the world. You are sure to love the earthy feel of the jungle and visiting Sunderbans will be etched in your memory forever, especially if you had spotted the elusive Bengal Tiger. It is said that even if you cannot see the tigers, the tigers see you and so try to stick to the path prescribed by guides.
The best time to visit the Sunderbans is during the winters because the weather is pleasant and apart from the animals which are indigenous, you will also come across a number of migratory birds as well who make the waters here their home. Bird watchers come here regularly for photography at this time. Try not to visit during summers as it is very hot and humid here and the area is prone to cyclones at this time.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you visit the Sunderbans.
You have to access Sunderbans from Kolkata and it is about 98 km away from the city.
You can hire a private cab from Kolkata and they charge about INR 100 per kilometer, depending on the type of vehicle. Some drivers can also take you for a pre- decided negotiated fee.
If you are someone who loves wildlife, and the outdoors, then Sunderbans will enthrall you. It is best to opt for an organized tour and you can book one at the Kolkata Tourism Office. There are private operators as well. You will love the ambience of the forest and it will be a one of a kind experience.
Please go back to portrait mode for the best experience