Friday, January 10, 2014

Sunderban - The land of Tigers

The Sunderban National Park is a Tiger Reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve located in the Sundarbans delta in the Indian state of West Bengal. Sundarbans South, East and West are three protected forests in Bangladesh. This region is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. It has largest number of Tigers and most of them are habitual man-eaters. It has been declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

I had been planning long for the trip but somehow it kept on getting postponed. The trip was finally planned for 10-01-2014 to 12-01-2014 with the one and only agenda being that of visiting the Sunderban and spotting a tiger

Thus started our journey to one of the largest mangrove forests in the world… India’s pride- “The Sunderban Tiger Reserve”;

I was very much exited as this was my first trip to the land of tigers, so we woke up early and reached Sealdah station by 6:00 am, Biplab's family was also with us ... when we reached sealdah, we saw Bibhas already there and the excitement for the trip can be seen in all of our eyes... It was chilling cold and still many of the members of the group has not yet started from home.

We planned that we will wait for them after reaching canning so we took the train from Sealdah station at around 6:30 AM, there was not much rush and was empty. the train started to move and the trip started.

As the train was about to reach canning the entire weather changed to foggy, a few feet can be barely seen and we were getting friezed as the wind also started to blow due to the train.

We reached Canning station around 8AM. It was chilling cold we had some cups of tea and came to know that the other members of the group have boarded the next train and will be there only by 9 am, So with lots of time in hand we thought to explore the canning city.

Its a small, dirty and fishy city... no big buildings can be seen and litter spread all over... the only plus point is the fishy thing.... so we thought to explore it a bit more.... Fish Market

Although i am not a fish lover, and my wife being the other way around, i too went to Fish Market....
Yaaah... what a fish.... we got everything that we can afford which also includes 16 Large crabs.

The train was late due to the fog which was making us irritated, woke up at 4 and still stuck at canning, At last at 9.30 the other members to joined us.

We took 2 Autorickshaws to drop all of us to Sonakhali Ferry Ghat, From where we boarded the Ferry which was going to be our home for next 2 days.

Again from this place we need to take ration  for next 2 days from Breakfast to Dinner, all things should be loaded on to the Ferry. As per me all this should have been already loaded before even the guest reach Sonakhali, however as the organiser was himself a guest and friend to us we ignored this delay.

We had our breakfast on board. At last at 11: 30 the motor started to roll and ferry started to move and the actual Sunderban trip begins.

The reserve consists of the rivers, Malta, Bidya, Raymangal, Gosaba; tributaries of the river Ganga meeting with the Bay of Bengal.

We had lunch enroute

The first stop is at Jharkhali Eco Tourism Park from where the permits are obtained by the streamers and boats to pass through the river. It was already 4 PM by the time we reached there, and for today we will not be able to go any further and can start our forward journey by early morning.

As it was already dark  the plan was to stay near to habitable location Kaikhali, so the boat was taken to Nabipukur - a river converging with Matla.

Kaikhali is a small village with small local shops, huts and now a host of guesthouses to house the tourists. Depending on one’s budget one can find a variety of choices or could even stay inside the streamers which have large resting places and toilets at basement level. 

We planned to sleep inside streamers, so as to feel the true nature and also not to woke up early to start the journey.

Early next morning we woke to embark upon our journey deeper into the river. 
In the morning we saw that many other steamers have joined in, we were the first ones to start in the morning. the steamers started to roll with many still sleeping.

The first stop for the day was Bonnie Camp, is having one of the most beautiful watchtowers in the Sundarbans. This watchtower, 50 feet high, is the highest watchtower in the Sundarbans. It is quite close to the Bay of Bengal and like all other watchtowers of Sundarbans, there is a sweet-water pond where the wildlife of Sundarbans frequent throughout the day.

Important wildlife includes the Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Barking deer and Rhesus macaque. Lots of birds and endemic invertebrate fauna, much of which has not been properly recorded, are found on this island. Royal Bengal Tigers are occasional visitors to this Island.

The ambience of the watchtower is absolutely fabulous and one gets the feeling of being marooned on a desolate island when one spends the night at Bonnie camp. The lurking fear of the Royal Bengal Tiger and the barking of the deer at night add an eerie feeling to this destination. In fact, on a moonlit night, the view of the jungle from the watchtower crisscrossed with rivulets and creeks all around is a treat for the eyes.

There is a tourist rest house at Bonnie camp for overnight stay. However, there is no electricity (only solar lights) or AC in the rooms. Prior booking is needed to stay overnight there.

All of us together at the Bonnie Camp watch tower.

Leaving Bonnie Camp..

We reached Kalash Island Beach around 1 PM, It is a part of Sundarbans National Park that lies at the estuary of the River Matla. Being outside the Core area of Sundarbans, visitors with armed guards are permitted to get down on the beach.

During winters, it is the breeding ground of the Olive Ridley Turtles that arrive in great numbers on this beach for nesting.

Kalash Island is also the home to many varieties of coastal birds and is specially a good place to spot uncommon waders. The Great Stone-curlew or Great Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris) is sighted on the beach.

Access by boat to this beautiful beach is usually from the Forest Department's Kalash Camp. A visit to Kalash Island combines the Sundarbans experience with bird-watching. 

We started our journey from kalash island beach for Kalash Island camp. this route was compared to narrow and one of the best route in the entire trip.

Sunderban besides being the world’s largest estuarine forest is also a honey collector’s delight. The forest is famous for its delectable honey, variety of fishes and the majestic Bengal tiger. It’s said tigers here are one of the best swimmers, crossing the rivers in a matter of few minutes.

By the time we reached Kalash camp (Sundarkati camp) the camp was already closed for the day but on requesting  a bit more we were allowed to enter the camp. we were greeted by ecstatic monkeys.

Sunset at Sunderban.

Next day we left kalash camp early morning for the return trip

On the way back we again visited the Bonnie camp.

We also visited Kaikhali again and then visited Kaikhali Ramkrishna Ashram

We reached canning around 6 PM, We took the next train which was around 7 and reached sealdah at 8 PM.

The Route


Pawan Patil said...

Great Captured! The Sundarbans National park in West Bengal is one of the famous national parks of India and is famous for the largest mangrove forest in the world. The Sundarbans park is home to some of the rare wild animals such as the royal Bengal tiger, Ridley Sea Turtle, Fishing Cats, wild boar, fox etc. Tourist across the seas comes here to visit the amazing location and prefer to stay at Resorts in Sunderbans.

pramodmallik said...

On 1st January 2008 I visited Sundarbans which was programmed suddenly.At Canning on travel agent Mr. Lal given me a ticket with a 50 person family group from westbengal. At that time two night and three days ticket was Rs.1500/- per person incl.foods.On the first day I suffered from vomiting and loose motion alongwith fever due to sea sickness and all the co passangers helped me a lot and providing me the medicine.On the next morning i was alright and enjoyed the beauties of Sundarbans at Kalas camp, Kalash island and bonnie camp etc. At Kalash Island our motor boat was remained at waist deep water and we all alighted there although there was warning notice displayed for Royal tigers . At my request the driver of the boat took a risk to allow alight on beach for only one hour. But after alight all the people started entering into the core forest which was a headache for me and many people blamed me if any unfortunate incident tooks place. But thank god nothing happend and we all enjoyed seeing hundreds of deers and many tiger pug marks on sand and during approaching of dark we all entered into the boat and closed all the windows and doors and putout all the lamps afraid of seapirates of Bangladesh.They generally equipped with carbines and .303 bore rifles attacked boats and looted all the valuables including young beautiful women took them into core forests.Hearing all these facts i feel guilty for alighting request to the boat driver and crew.At 8pm high tide approached and in the mean time cooking for dinner already started on the roof of the boat by the boat crews and i was standing besides them at the edge of the boat . Suddenly one high tide hit the boat at a huge force and all the utensils thrown and our chicken bucket was fell into the sea. I narrowly escaped by catching the side wooden rail of the boat else i would have been fell into the sea and lost my life.This is one the best adventurous incident in my life. On that night we all had to satified with veg curry instead of chicken fry and made night halt at Kalash camp alongwith other boats . On the next morning we started for Bonnie camp and at around 12pm we reached there and all people went to camp to view the forest from its tallest watch tower.But I remained at boat to take a bath on river when i entered into the water at jetty the boat driver immediately rushed into water and pulled me out from the neck deep water and scolded me that many corcodiles inside this river and they haunt for people during boat parking. So for the second time i escaped from death. Although we did not see the tiger but saw the clean pug mark on sand and on mud near boating ghat at bonnie camp. In 2007 one tourist was also killed when he was trying to alight from the boat . SUNDARBANS WAS MAGNIFICENT , ADVENTUROUS, BEAUTIFUL, HEART TOUCHING BEAUTY, A SAFE HEAVEN FOR MANY FLORA AND FAUNA . REALLY ONE OF THE BEST UNESCO HERITAGE SITE. Althought I never got further oppertunity to revisit but sure I will come again with my family.
Thanks and congratulate you all for visiting this wonderful land.

farheen s said...

The national stop was built up in 1984 and is generally included marshes, waterways and mangrove woods of the Ganges Delta.
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