|National Park||Fact Sheet|
The Sundarbans are mystical and mysterious, dangerous but beautiful. In the morning the region is bright and ‘normal’, but when the setting sun turns it into a faintly glowing, green, pristine land time appears to stand still, and one is charmed and mesmerized.
This delta, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, is home to the world’s largest mangrove forest and a natural ecosystem.
The Sundarbans are a dynamic ecosystem of 108 islands interspersed with tidal rivers and narrow creeks. Stretching across more than 10,000 km in the state of West Bengal and into Bangladesh, this delta is home to the world’s largest mangrove forest and a natural ecosystem; it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
In addition to the unique ecosystem it is also known as the mysterious realm of the endangered, and occasionally man-eating Royal Bengal tiger and many amphibians, reptilians, fish and mammals as well as more than 180 bird species.
The area is steeped in mystical tales of Bonobibi (Goddess of the Jungle) and Dakshinrai (God of the Tigers), where folklore, struggle and danger has integrated in the life of the locals; locals living in the villages engage in dangerous professions like honey collection, catching shrimps in crocodile infested creeks and rivers.
In a landscape dominated by great tidal creeks and waterways, the only way to access and enjoy the area is on motorized boats, which come in various sizes and shapes. Sunderbans is the home of man-eating tigers, estuarine crocodiles, sharks and snakes. Man fights for survival in great numbers by living off nature's bounty by accepting and fighting against these odds. The visitor has no choice but to stay within limits and out of trouble. This means that there is very little conventional bird or game watching, more observations from water. But the dark and foreboding attractiveness of the mangroves also hides some of the most sought after birds and animals in the world and a chance encounter with a Swamp Partridge, a Brown-winged Kingfisher, a Grey Headed Lapwing, a Pallas's Fish Eagle, a Lesser Adjutant or maybe a Mangrove Whistler is always a possibility ~ as is the unforgettable sight of the most secretive great cat in the world.
Tiger sighting is difficult not just because of the terrain but also because the density is not evident from the limited view one gets from a boat. Once inside the Park, the only access to land is at the various Watchtowers you can visit. Remember that the watchtowers are inside wire cages and do not allow you to stroll in tiger-land.
Park Open : Throughout the year
Best Season : December - April
Fauna : Apart from the Bengal tiger, fishing cats, leopard cats, macaques, wild boar, Indian grey mongoose, fox, jungle cat, flying fox, chital, are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans.
Avifauna : There are about 248 bird species found in Sunderban that include Openbill storks, black-capped kingfishers, black-headed ibis, water hens, coots, pheasant-tailed jacanas, pariah kites, brahminy kite, marsh harriers, swamp partridges, red junglefowl, seagulls, common kingfishers, peregrine falcons, woodpeckers, whimbrels, black-tailed godwits, little stints, curlews, golden plovers, northern pintails, white-eyed pochards and whistling teals.
Shortest Route : Fly to Kolkata and drive to Sonakhali and then cruise
State : West Bengal
Area : 1,330 sq. km
Altitude: 7.5 m
Vegetation : Tropical Dry deciduous
Major City: Kolkata (110 Km)
Airport : Kolkata (110 km)
Railway Station : Kolkata (110 km)
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