Sundarbans National Park
Also please keep in mind that Sundarbans is a plastic free zone. Please do not throw used/unused plastic into this environment. Keep them with you or in a waste basket. There is a relentless effort of making this beautiful place clean, please help to achieve it by not dumping garbage all around. Try reading The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh before embarking on the trip. It will surely add an extra-dimension to your senses.
The Sundarbans are the largest littoral mangrove belt in the world, stretching 80km (50mi) into the Bangladeshi and Indian hinterland from the coast. The Sundarbans has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The part of the forest within Indian territory is called Sundarbans National Park. The forests aren't just mangrove swamps though — they include some of the last remaining stands of the mighty jungles which once covered the Gangetic plain. The Sundarbans cover an area of 3,850 sq km, of which about one-third is covered in water/marsh areas. Since 1966 the Sundarbans have been a wildlife sanctuary, and it is estimated that there are now 400 Royal Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area. The forest is called 'Sunderban'due to the rich growth of Sundari trees.
Flora and fauna
Royal Bengal tiger, saltwater crocodiles, deer, birds, bull sharks, various primates and snakes.
Monsoon cruises are spectacular simply because of two reasons:
1. The movement of boats is less since a lot of people avoid that time because of the season. However, the positive is that chances of sighting wildlife is more.
2. The cloudy sky and the lovely sunset is the best time for photography.
Sundarbans National Park is located in the south eastern fringe of the Indian state of West Bengal and part of Sundarbans Reserve Forest. The adjacent inhabited areas of the Indian part of Sundarban are well connected with Kolkata by both roads and railways. And Kolkata is well connected with big cities in India by road, rail and air. Kolkata is also connected with Bangkok, Singapore, Hongkong,Kathmandu, Dhaka etc. by air.
Places connected with Kolkata and from where a motor boat take you to Sundarban National Park:
The easiest way to reach Sundarbans is the Canning route. Buses are also available from Kolkata(K C Das at Esplanade, Sealdah Bus stand or Science City) to get to Sonakhali or till Malancha from where you get another bus to Sonakhali.
Foreigners wishing to visit the Sundarbans have to obtain a special permit. This is mandatory as per Government rules. It can now however, be obtained at the Sajnekhali Forest Office(Ecotourism Range). The originals have to be shown to the forest office on your arrival.
A permit for maximum 5 days is usually granted which can be further extended subject to the permission of local forest officer.
Must see places to visit when you are in the Sundarbans:
All these can be covered in varying lengths of time; in a 1N 2D package you may be able to cover 2 - 3 watch towers, in 2N 3D package you may be able to cover a few more and so on.
Most of the watch towers offer panoramic views of the landscape, but can get pretty crowded. A good alternative is to skip the watch towers and cruise along the numerous less frequented channels and soak in the landscape.
Be sure that you have booked your lodging or trip package through a responsible tourism organisation that shares the tourism benefit with local communities, does not employ child labour, and practices environment-friendly tourism.
Fresh sea fish, prawns, lobster, dry fish curry, cottage cheese, pancake, rice pudding (Bengali dessert).
Filtered or boiled water (do not insist on mineral water unless it is a part of your personal medication. Mineral water comes in plastic bottles. Sundarbans is a No-Plastic Zone.) Fresh coconut juice. Fresh watermelon juice. Mango juice.
If you are backpacking, get to Pakhirala and enquire about the boats. They are generally cheaper, but there is the risk that you may not get one. Stay on the boat overnight,if possible. The dawn on the water is absolutely breathtaking.
The Sundarbans is the only place in the world where tigers still actively hunt humans for food and usually between 50 and 80 locals are mauled each year. The Royal Bengal Tiger is extremely dangerous in the Sundarbans, but most visitors need not worry since wildlife tours and accommodation that is provided by the state government will never put you in harms way; however if you are interested in private tour (by hiring a small machine boat or so), do it at your own risk! The Sundarbans is also home to a population of Saltwater Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) and Bullsharks are found throughout the estuaries, so swimming is not advised anywhere.
The sun can be pretty harsh while cruising the water channels. Make sure you carry a high SPF sunscreen and a hat