FORMED by the super confluence of the mighty riverine systems of the Ganga, the Brahmaputra, the Padma and the Meghna, the huge delta spanning across Bangladesh and parts of West Bengal houses the Sunderbans – literally, the beautiful forests, It is the world’s largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest, a biosphere reserve, a National park, the abode of the Bengal Tiger and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Sunderbans are virtually impregnable, accessible as they are only through a complex network of tidal creeks, with the notoriously meandering waterways changing their course at will, alternatively giving rise to and Consuming mud islands and mangrove forests that thrive on brackish water. These forests have given rise to an ecosystem that has no parallel anywhere in the world, with predators like the saltwater and mugger crocodiles, gharials, water monitors and sharks roaming the waters in search of prey while the enigmatic Royal Bengal Tiger holds sway at the top of the food chain on land- though calling the Bengal Tiger the ultimate predator on land is a bit of a misnomer as they are known to swim vast distances in search of a kill.
The Sunderbans are also home to a variety of turtles and other reptiles including the endangered Olive Ridley Turtle, apart from housing a canopy full of birds that too are facing habitat loss. However, the biggest threat to the entire ecosystem is from climate change with rising sea levels threatening to wreak havoc and not only force a deluge of climate refugees but also the destruction of the mangrove forest system itself – which acts as a hedge against cyclones – with disastrous Consequences.
The Sunderbans region, because of its unique topography and exotic flora, fauna and wildlife is virtually a magnet for tourists. There are several watchtowers in the forest from where one can sample the eerie beauty of the Sunderbans.
HOW TO REACH THE PLACE
The Sunderbans is only accessible by waterways. The nearest railhead is Port Canning, from where organised group trips start. There are several other entry points, but Port Canning continues to be the most popular.
The other route is through Basanti that is connected by bus service to Kolkata, From here, one can take boats to Sajnekhali, One can also come via Port Canning and Gosaba or from Sonakhali to Sajnekhali. From Kolkata, there are Sunderban trains to Canning and buses to Namkhana, Raidighi, Sonakhali, and Najat, from where motor launch services are available for Sunderbans.
THE NEAREST AIRPORT IS KOLKATA
Sajnekhali Tourist Lodge run by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. and forest resthouses are available at Sajnekhali. There are some private lodges also. West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation also has exciting Tour Packages to the Sunderbans starting from Kolkata.
If you are planing for Bangal or Sunderban tour, Traveoport Holidays will help you.