Sundarban national park in West Bengal is part of Sundarban tiger reserve. It is also a biosphere reserve at East India. Sundarban is a densly covered mangrove forest on Ganges - Brahmaputra Delta. It is a vast delta forest area, spread over India and Bangladesh. Out of total forest, 60% is in Bangladesh and 40% forest is in India. The name "Sundarban" is derived from two words "Sundar" means beautiful and "Ban" means forest thus its name means beautiful forest. It is also said that "Sundari" (Heritiera fomes) is a mangrove tree species. This delta is formed by the confluence of two important rivers of north-India and north-east India i.e. Ganges and Brahmaputra. When Ganges river enters into neighboring country Bangladesh, its name get changed into Padma river. Sundarban national park declaration was made in 1984. Later in 1987 it was declared as aUNESCO World Heritage Site. Later in 2019, it was declared as Ramsar site. Here Royal Bengal tiger and salt-water crocodiles are prime safari attraction.
South of West Bengal region was not a flourishing country in past as it has many rivers intersection, land was scattered thus fisherman villages were located in this region. It was a fen land with full of morsses. Reference of this region comes in Hindu epic Mahabharata and Puranas. This region was between two powerful kingdoms Vanga in eastern Bengal and Suhmas in western Bengal. Chinese pilgrim Yuan Chwang (Hiuen Tsiang) visited this region in 639 AD and described as ruled by Samatata and Tamralipti. British General Cunningham confirms that Samatata kingdom have their capital in Jessore. By 10th and 11th century, this region was under Pala kings. With 12th century, Sena dynasty emerged and replaced Pala dynasty. In 1199-1200. This region again gained prominence during the ruling period Pratapaditya (1561-1611 CE). He was landlord of that region who later became Maharaja of Jessore. During his rule, this region was flourishing with good law and order situation. After Maharaja Pratapaditya defeat, this region was fell under Mughals control. They controlled this region through their regional governers. When British India rule came, first forest deivsion with juridiction over Sundarbans was established in 1869. Large portion of this mangrove forest was declared as reserved forest in 1875. Its management came under Forest Department. Its first management plan was drawn in period of 1893-1898. With the launch of Project tiger, it was declared as tiger reserve in 1973 and national park was formed in 1984.
Sundarban forest is a unique biosphere reserve. Here geographical conditions are very unique. Forest is spread on river delta thus instead of safari jeeps, boats are used for safaris. This salt-tolerant mangrove forest is a challenging place for survival of mammal and bird species. This forest is popular for its man-eater tigers. Due to close presence of human society to forest, here man-animal conflict cases are very high. Life if difficult for both human beings and animals. Its main safari attractions are Royal Bengal Tigers, Irawadi Dolphins, Fishing Cat, Estuarine Crocodiles, King Cobra etc. It is the only mangrove forest that supports tiger habitation in the world. It also gives shelter to highly endangered River Terrapin (Batagur baska). Sundarban islands are also the nesting ground of marine turtles like Green Sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivaceal) etc.
Safari timing in Sundarban national park is from sunrise to sunset. Here safaris are done through boats thus safari boat takes guest to pre-decided river-trails and take them back. Due to mangrove forest islands jeep safari is not possible here. You may note timing as 8:30 hrs till 16:00 hrs. It means boats can start safari rounds in between this time and till 18:30 hrs, all of them have to return back.
Jungle safaris in Sundarban national park are operated through boats. Like other popular tiger reserves, here safari vehicles are not used for jungle safaris due to delta region. Here safaris are operated from sunrise to sunset. Boats are available in air-conditioned and non-airconditioned modes. They operates in different sizes also.
|Royal Bengal Tiger||Salt-water Crocodile|
Sundarban national park lies in south of West Bengal state. It is just 110 kms south-east of Kolkata city. For tourism purpose, Kolkata city is considered as the best option for arrivals and departures.
Nearest airport = Kolkata Dum Dum Airport (110km)
Nearest railway stations = Howrah railway station (105kms), Canning railway station (50kms)
Nearby road = Bus service is available from Kolkata, Canning to Sundarban
Best time to visit Sundarban is from October to March. During this period, we can traverse well through waterways and have sighting of various birds species, salt water crocodiles, tigers etc.
As Sundarban is a delta forest destination thus here safari is not a great challenge. With 30-45 days in advance planning, we can expect well arranged services and good safari experience. For wildlife photographers, we recommend to hire small boat on exclusive basis so that you can move as per your convenience and do photography as per own timings. As Kolkata is largest city of West Bengal thus it should be selected for arrival and departure plan. Normal tourist can opt for 01 night /02 days tour but for wildlife photographers, we recommend 02-03 night tour so that we can better explore the forest and have sighting of its rare species.
Accommodation options are Sundarban are limited. Here most of the resorts are either in budget category or standard category. Thus while visiting this destination, we should not expect too much luxury. As this destination is blessed with natural beauty thus accommodation option offers good scenic views. If somebody is interested in luxury option then better to stay in Kolkata hotels and visit this destionation as excursion. tour.
After completion of Sundarban national park tour, tourists may explore the heritage landmarks of Kolkata city and visit to Shanti Niketan.