Sunderban, the world’s largest delta and mangrove swamp, is formed by the merging of three rivers- the Ganga, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna- and has a 2,585 sq km wildlife sanctuary that extends into Bangladesh. The Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the world’s largest estuarine sanctuary, has some of India’s most interesting wildlife, and is worth a visit.
Spreading over a series of densely forested islands and saline water channels, Sunderban Tiger Reserve is home to almost 270 Royal Bengal tigers as well as spotted deer, wild pigs, monkeys, herons, kingfishers and white bellied eagles. You can also spot aquatic wildlife such as Olive Ridley turtles, estuarine crocodiles, river terrapins, Gangetic dolphins, black finless porpoises, catfish, mudskippers, crabs, shrimps and lobsters in the Sunderban. Respond to the call of the wild at the Sunderban and track the dangerous King of Beasts, the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Sunderban is open to visitors from October to March. Winter is anyway the time when the area isn’t as hot and humid as the rest of the year, so it’s best to time your visit for between December and February.
How to Reach
The capital of West Bengal, Kolkata, is just 131 km from Sunderban, and is well connected to the rest of India. The nearest railhead and road head to this Tiger Reserve is Port Canning, which is connected to Kolkata by train.
From Port Canning, regular buses go to Sonakhali, Raidighi, Najat and Namkhana. The WBTDC organizes guided tours- mostly of duration of two or three days, starting and ending at Kolkata. They’re a good way of visiting Sunderban.
Sightseeing in Sunderban is not a child’s play. Here the tigers are known to be mostly man eaters- mainly because of the lack of other suitable prey in the area- and the entire sanctuary have become, over the past decades, a place where you have to be on the alert all the time.
Other creatures in Sunderban include estuarine terrapins, Olive Ridley turtles, estuarine crocodiles, Ganges dolphins, water monitors and a wide variety of birds, fish and crustaceans. Also part of this tiger reserve is the Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary. Besides a heronry, the Sajnekhali Visitors’ Centre has a crocodile enclosure, a shark pond, a turtle hatchery and a Mangrove Interpretation Centre. Activities to do in Sunderban include game viewing, boat cruise, royal Bengal Tiger spotting and wildlife photography.
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