Sunderban National Park
Located in the Ganga delta in West Bengal, spanning the Hooghly in the west and Teulia river in the east, Sunderbans was declared a National Park in 1984. The park covers a vast stretch of mangrove swamp, lush forested islands and small rivers near the Bay of Bengal.
Most of the region comprises estuarine mangrove forests and swamps which supports an ecosystem specially adapted to great salinity. Sunderbans is home to the magnificent Royal Bengal tiger, the park holding more tigers than any other tiger reserve.
More than 400 tigers were recorded during the mid-1980s. Project tiger has also launched a programme to protect the Olive Ridley sea turtles. Crocodiles and the gangetic dolphin are to be found aplenty in the Raimgangal river. The Sajnakhali sanctuary, famous for its rich avian population, is regarded as a part of the Sunderbans National Park.
The undiscovered greenery
Sunderbans, the place that owes its name to Sundari trees, consist of a large flora population like Genwa, Dhundal, Passur, Garjan and Kankra. Apart from these trees, inpenetrable Goran trees between 1.8 mtr and 3.6 mtr high covers almost the entire region. One of the most remarkable feature of this place is the bayonet like roots of mangrove forests that stick out above the water level.
Nature apart, if you want to feel the essence of spirituality then this is the place to be. A place of Ma Bonobibi (the goddess of the forest) to Shiber Kumir (Lord Shiva's Crocodile) or from Dakshinaroy (an ogre, the ancester of all tigers) to Kapil Muni (an incarnation of Vishnu).
Close encounter with the wild
At Sunderbans you can expect the thrills of a life time. While cruising through the brackish kharris flanked by dense mangrove forests all around in the luxury launch MV Chitrarekha and M V Madhukar, experience the two day river cruise with one night on board with your family and friends.
From the wide open upper deck you can watch the forest vibrant with life while sipping your morning tea. Ofcourse there is a great news for the corporate houses. Have a cool brain-storming session on the deck all morning followed by a sumptuous Bengali lunch consisting of delicacies like fish and prawns. You can also have a foot tapping dance session in your evening party and retire to the cozy bunks at night all these to give you a feeling of adventure along with the safe comforts of home.
Permission for river cruise: A general river cruise requires no approval. But to visit places outside the core area permission should be taken from the authorities.
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.
How to get there
Come to Sajnekhali by
motorboat departing from Canning which is accessible by train and bus services from Kolkata. Cruise along in M.V. Chitrarekha (weekly journey from October to March) for a life time experience. One can also get private boats from Canning, Gosaba and Basanti, Raidighi, Basanti, Namkhana and Najatare are all connected by roadways from Kolkata.
Where to stay
M.V. Chitrarekha has excellent arrangements for on-board stay. One can also avail the facilities of tourist lodges at Sajnekhali, Bakkhali and Piyali for overnight stay. At Dayapur, Sundarban Tiger Camp provides both A/C adn N/AC accomodation and also organises package tours from Kolkata.