With an area of 10,000 sq. km, out of which 6000 sq. km located in Bangladesh and 4000 sq. km in India, Sundarbans contains world's largest coastal mangrove forest.
The Sundarbans is a vast forest in the coastal region of the Bay of Bengal and considered one of the natural wonders of the world. The Bangladeshi and Indian parts of the Sundarbans, have been listed separately in the UNESCO World Heritage List as The Sundarbans and Sundarbans National Park, respectively.
The Sundarbans is a network of marine streams, mud shores and mangrove forests. The salinity level is higher in the mangroves than in the freshwater swamp forests located further inland. The Sundarbans flora is characterised by the abundance of sundari, gewa, goran and keora all of which occur prominently throughout the area. The region is also known to contain numerous wildlife species, birds and reptiles, including Bengal tiger, chital, crocodile, snakes many of which are considered endangered.
Sundarbans means "beautiful forest".
How to Reach
Sundarbans is located in the south eastern fringe of the Indian state of West Bengal. The adjacent inhabited areas of the Indian part of Sundarban are well connected with Kolkata by both roads and railways.
By Road - There are multiple entry points to enter Sundarbans, Godkhali (82km), Koikhali(83km) and Namkhana(117km). Most of the tourists enters the national park from Godkhali village. State transport buses or private buses are available to reach till Godkhali.
By Train - Canning is the nearest railway station to Sundarbans. Canning is about 45 km from Kolkata and takes around one and half hour to reach there by train. Trains are available from Sealdah station in Kolkata. Public transport is available from Canning to Godkhali which is around 25km.
By Air - Kolkata International Airport is the main airport in the city which serves domestic and international as well. From there you need travel by road or train.
Once you reach there, boats are available to take you to the national park.
Food and Stay
Due to reserved area, very few options are available for staying. The options are available only at entry points of Sundarbans. Restaurants are also very few and only local food is available. Research on food and stay options before visiting Sundarbans, if you are visiting on your own.
What to Expect?
Most of the tourists visit this place in search of tigers but you have to be lucky in terms of weather conditions. There are other animals and beautiful birds which can seen easily. Be ready with camera because you never know when you will get chance to see the tiger.
Foreign nationals requires permit to visit this place which can be obtained form Sanjankheli National Park. Boat person will guide you for the permit. Or you can get it in Kolkata itself at West Bengal tourism office. Always carry passport with you.
In the month of November, me and my friend decided to visit some offbeat places. After lot of searches, we decided to visit Orissa and Sundarbans. While searching for Sundarbans Tours, we came across one of the tour company who organizes tours for Sundarbans. And we decided to go with them. It was 2 day tour from Kolkata city. The stay was at one of the island in Sundarbans they call it as "Eco Village". Let me start from beginning,
We took night train from Bhubaneshwar (Orissa) to Kolkata. It was around 5 AM when we reached Kolkata and city as so much busy at this hour. We visited Tarreti Market, it is a food street where you will get chinese food. It opens at around 5 AM in the morning. People will be selling chinese food, fish, vegetables, meat. If you are visiting this place, try fried momos (I am not fan of steamed momos). And it is very cheap. If you have time then please visit this market.
After roaming the market, we went to office of tour organizers. The office little bit far from Howrah Junction (Railway station). You can hire taxi outside of station. We walked till office all the from railway station but we stopped at Tarreti market. Their office is very cozy place and little hard to find. We were welcomed by the drink that is a cup of tea (much needed after walking almost 2-3 KM from Terreti Market). We were group of ten people out of which 7 were foreigners, me, my friend and our guide.
After all the formalities, we started at around 10 AM in a vehicle which dropped us at Godkhali village. We were late by one hour as one of the person forgot her passport at her hotel room so we went there first and then left for Sundarbans. Tour guide served us breakfast (A sandwich and banana). You can carry your own food, if you want. After three hours of travel we reached there by 1 PM.
We were shifted to a boat which took us to Eco Village. On the way, they offered us tea and some snacks. Tea was unlimited. While going to island, you will not go through national park. So, very less chances of seeing any animal. Enjoy the view, you will see cargo ships coming from Bangladesh. After around one and half hour of boating we reached to eco village. The island was awesome. On arrival, they served us lunch. It was veg and non-veg and food was very tasty. After lunch, guide took us for the tour of island. The island is not big but it is beautiful and very clean.
In the evening, we went for boat ride. Sun was setting and we were surfing along calm water, the experience was great. After the boat ride, we came back to our place. We took some rest and it was time for local music show. There were few musicians who were singing local songs, it was great. After the music show, dinner was served. There was night ride after ride which guide told us later. You will really enjoy the night boat ride. No light, no sound and you are just sailing through calm water. On full moon night, this ride will much more enjoyable.
After dinner, everyone was enjoying bonfire and telling experiences of India. Foreigners were very much curious about culture of India. We met one more group who were also visiting the island. We met one more guide who was with another group, Rajesh. He told us that there is lily pond on island which told us he will show in the morning but asked us to wake up early. It was not a part of tour. In the morning, we were ready by 6. Other people were still getting ready. Meanwhile, we visited lily pond till other people gets ready. Better is to visit this pond little early, at the time of sunrise. The sight will be much more beautiful because of sun-rays.
By 7.30, everybody was ready and we were ready to leave for tour of National Park. Whole time, you will be on boat and visiting national park from boat itself. There are some watch towers made by forest department to see the national park and animals. Lunch and snacks will be served on boat itself. One more guide will join you to give brief information about national park. This guide will be official guide appointed by forest department. Try to watch more animals, if you see the tiger you are very lucky and enjoy the tour. By the time of Sunset, you will be back to entry point. The vehicle will be ready for your journey back to Kolkata city. We reached Kolkata by 10 PM.
Food and Stay on Island
Food will be made by local people and taste is very nice. For staying, they have built few huts from mud. Stay will be on sharing basis that is two people in single hut. Beds are big enough for single person with mosquito nets and very much comfortable. Carry mosquito repellent cream with you and sunscreen is must.
When to visit
According to me, winter (November to February) will be the best time to visit Sundarbans. Summers will be very much hot due to coastal area. You can still enjoy Sundarbans in monsoon but it will be raining heavily. Try to visit Sundarbans on Full moon day if possible. If you want to see more animals then it should be low tide during that time.
"tour de sundarbans" is name of group who organizes tours. The cost of tour is 4000 PP for Indians for 1 night, 2 days. It includes all meals and stay on island except dinner on Day 2. please check the rate directly with tour group for foreign nationals. The price will be including of all the permit charges. Different tour options are also available. Drop me an email if you have any query or need help with itinerary.
Sundarbans is a great place to get away from crowd and chill out. Explore at your own pace. I am planning to visit this place one more time, let me know if guys wanna join. Tell me about your experience of Sundarbans in comments!!!
Please do not litter anywhere. Explore beauty of wonder and enjoy it.
*All the photographs are copyrighted to Towards The Other World.