Sunderbans (West Bengal)
Introduction: The name Sundarbans is perhaps derived from the term meaning "forest of sundari, a reference to the large mangrove tree that provides valuable fuel. Along the coast the forest passes into a mangrove swamp; the southern region, with numerous wild animals and Crocodile- infested estuaries, is virtually uninhabited. It is one of the last preserves of the Bengal tiger and the site of a tiger preservation project.
History: The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, created in 1973, was the part of the then 24-Pargans Division. Subsequently the area comprising of the present tiger reserve was constituted as Reserve Forest in 1978. The total area of the Sunderbans is 9630 sq. km. out of which 4264 sq. km. bears mangrove forest. The area of the Reserve is 2585 sq. km. covering land area of 1600 sq. km. and water body over 985 sq. km.
Description: Sunderban is home to the largest number of wild tigers in the world. Sundarbans, formerly SUNDERBUNDS, vast tract of forest and saltwater swamp forming the lower part of the Ganges Delta, extending about 160 miles (260 km) along the Bay of Bengal from the Hooghly River Estuary (India) to the Meghna River Estuary in Bangladesh. The Sundarbans are a part of the world's largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges,Brahmaputra and Meghna. The whole tract reaches inland for 60-80 miles (100-130 km).
Sunderbans Quick facts
Geography: Sunderban covers an area of 4262 sq. kms in India. The Sunderban Tiger Project was started in 1974 and has an area of 2585 sq. kms. The core area is 1330 sq. kms and is a national forest and UNESCO world heritage site.
Climate: The average maximum and minimum temperature is 34 °C and 20 °C respectively. Rainfall is heavy with high humidity as high as 80% as it is close to the bay of bengal.The monsoon lasts from mid-June to mid-September. Prevailing wind is from the north and north-east from October to mid-March and south west westerlies prevails from mid-March to September. Storms which sometimes develop into cyclones are common during the month of May and October.
The best time to be in wildlife belts of the region is September-March. Although the luxury tours to the Sunderbans carry on the year round, and the monsoon holds its own magic over tourists on the expanse of the Sunderbans, September-March is the most likely time for tiger-sighting.
From Kolkata, if you are taking a bus, you have to get off at Basanti or Sonakhali, located near the Matla River. From here, take the boat to Sajnekhali (the journey takes 2 hrs), at the junction of the Peech-kali and Gomdi rivers. This is the entry point to the sanctuary, where you pay the entry fee and collect the permit from the Forest Office.
Piyali: It is 72 kms from Calcutta and is a gateway to the Sunderban. It is being developed as a tourist complex. A thrilling cruise through the largest estuarine delta in the world and the biggest colony of the `Royal Bengal Tigers' - the Sundarbans. Delta-forest home of the Royal Bengal Tiger.
From Calcutta: Namkhana (105 km), Sonakhali (100 km), Raidighi (76 km), Canning (64 km), Najat (92 km).
The nearest railhead is at Canning, 48 kms away.The nearest town is Gosaba, 50 kms away.
Dum Dum (166kms), is the nearest airport at Calcutta.
Sunderban is only accessible by waterways. Approximate time taken between various points are :
From Namkhana - Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project (2.5 hours)
Sagar Island (2.5 hours)
Jambudwip (3.5 hours)
From Sajnekhali - Sudhanyakhali (40 minutes)
Buridabri (Tiger Project Area) (5 hours)
Netidhopari (3.5 hours)
Holiday Island (3 hours)
From Sonakhali - Gosaba (1 hour)
From Raidighi - Kalas (5 hours)
Sunderbans Festivals and culture
Naba Barsho : The Bengali year starts from the first Baisakh (mid-April). It is an occasion for celebration to the Bengalees in general and tradesmen in particular. New clothes, fresh flowers, offerings at temples, people visiting decorated shops mark the day.
Durga Puja & Deepavali: The largest Bengali festival is Durga Puja, held in the Bengali month of Aswin (October). Images of the ten-armed goddess are worshipped in ancient houses and at pandals, erected specially for the Puja. After the four-day ceremony, the images are immersed in the river. Durgapuja is the most important festival in the city of Kolkata. The festival that follows is Deepavali, the festival of lights,. The worship of goddess Kali is marked by display of fireworks and crackers.
Id: Id is the largest festival to the Muslims of West Bengal. Id-ul-Fitr comes after the lapse of the Ramjan month and marks a happy communion after a month of prayer and fasting. Seventy days after Id-ul-Fitr, comes another festive occasion Id-uj-Joha. It is celebrated throughout the state, but with great grandeur in Kolkata. A very large congregation of Muslims as well as non-Muslims is held at the Kolkata Maidan
Sunderbans is a part of West Bengal the people are same with the culture of Bengali's and of course, it is a total forest area the culture would be as same as tribal people. The state is well-known for its superb arts ad crafts made of silk, ivory, shola, conchshell, dhokra and beautiful clay models. Also worth-mentioning are Baluchari saris and the famous woollen carpets, blankets as well as knitted garments.
Netidhopani: The ruins of a 400-year-old temple and legends lend mystery to the atmosphere.
Sunderbans Entertainment and Night Life
Bhagbatpur Crocodile Project: This is a crocodile breeding farm. Tours are organized by the WBTDC. This place is accessible through Namkhana. Both the West Bengal Tourism Department and the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation organize conducted tours to the Sundarbans by their launches. Bhagabatput is a hatchery of the largest estuarine crocodile in the world.
Safaris:The best time to visit Sunderbans is during the winters, between September and March. There are regular bus services from Calcutta. But the main areas of the sanctuary can only be accessed by riverine waterways. The best and the safest way to visit Sunderbans is on conducted tours. One can also avail the services of the private vessels from Canning, Gosaba or Basanti.
Haliday Island: Last retreat of the Barking Deer.
Kanak: Nesting place of Olive Ridley Turtles.
There is no room for shopping except a souvenir shop at the Tiger Camp Resort.
The mouthwatering spread of dishes includes lobsters, fishes and other special sea-foods from all corners of the world.
There is a museum which has the various specimens of flora & fauna. Above all one can enjoy the natural beauty of sea, river, trees and animals.
Sunderbans National Park: Adapting itself to the saline and watery environment, the tigers at the Park are good swimmers and practically amphibious! Traversing the mangroves by motor launch is quite an experience, for the area is completely intact and very different from the more conventional wildlife park.The estuarine crocodile is often seen along the mud banks but owing to the dense undergrowth the tiger is rarely sighted.
The Ganges and the Brahmaputra: The rivers form this alluvial archipelago of 54 islands watered by the Bay of Bengal. The islands Goasaba, Sandeshkali and Basanti form the northern boundary of the Sundarbans; on the south is the sea; to the west side of the Sunderbans park is the Matla and Bidya rivers and to the east is the international boundary of Bangladesh.
Ganga Sagar: Situated on an island in the Sunderbas, it holds the charms of a completely unspoilt beach on the estuary of the mighty Ganga. It can be approached from Calcutta either by road and then by vessel, or by chartered luxury vessels taken from Culctta itself. A lovely destination combininmg pilgrimage and fun.
- Foreign tourists have to get a permit for entry into the park from West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation in Kolkata.
- Park charges Entry Fee : Rs. 15 (Indians) & Rs. 150 (foreigners)
- Boat Fee : Rs. 100/boat/day plus Rs. 45 for 3 crew members
- Camera : Rs. 300 (video) & still free
- Guide : Rs. 200 Park timings are 7 AM to 5 PM.
- Be careful with the drinking water and carry all the basic medicines along.
- Carry all the essentials including mosquito repellent cream, light clothes, sun hat, thick rubber sole boots etc.
- Get prior information about the park and take an experienced local guide along. Prior permission is required, which can be obtained from the Forest Officer at Khulna.
- The entry fees and other charges are to be paid at the relevant forest stations.
Hill Cart Road,
(0353) 251 1974/1979.
Sunderbans is the place for the tiger and safaris so the must thing to do here is Safari and visit Bird sancturary and sunderbans national park
Permission has to be acquired to visit the tiger reserve from the Field Director, Sunderban Tiger Reserve, Port Canning. Should take permission to visit the estuarine delta area, and can be obtained from the office of the Field Director, Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, Port Canning, 24 Parganas.
These permits allow you to visit the Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary and the Project Tiger reserve areas within Sunderbans. Permits to visit other parts of Sunderbans can be obtained from the Divisional Forest Officer, 24 Parganas, 35 Gopalnagar Road, Kolkata.
Should not be careless as it is the place for the wild animals. Do not disturb any animals while the time of safari.