The Sundarbans - Amazon of India

Tripoto
16th Jan 2021
Photo of The Sundarbans - Amazon of India by Debanjan Ray

Trivia

Sundarban is the worlds largest delta.It is also know as the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta.Some of its areas are listed in UNESCO World Heritage sites.It has a mangrove forest cover of about 10,000 sq kms.

Places to see

1.Sajnekhali watch tower Also there is a crocodile park & Mangrove Interpretation Centre inside the complex.

2.Pakhiralay village.

3.Sudhanyakhali watch tower.

4.Dobanki tiger camp

Facts & Tips :

1.It is recommendable to to visit sundarbans with the guidance of tour operators since its a remote forest area and they have the best local knowledge.All tours involve staying entire day on boat where lunch/ breakfast/dinners are served while it cruises through the mangroves.

2.If you want to spend weekend with family/friends or get away from the hectic life , 2Day/1Night in boat is ideal.More then that,it becomes monotonous.

3.If you are into wildlife, nature,photography,botany or any other enthusiasts or professional, then you might consider stretching the stay since sundarban offers a wide plethora of subject to explore.

4.If you are travelling with family , you might avoid staying in boat at night (provided its a luxury houseboat ).Hygiene and privacy are of issue.

5.Best time to visit is during the month of October to march .Winter is recommendable, as the animals come out of the forest for sun bath.However weekends are the most crowded and packed with traveller which reduces the chance to catch view of animals.

6.Unlike popular myth , catching a glimpse of the Royal Bengal Tiger is very rare. Animals that can be seen commonly are deer,crocodile,wild boar,monitor lizards ,primates and various species of birds.

7.Most of the sundarban bound boats anchors at a village called "Pakhiralay" for night stay.This village have all the hotels,local shops,refreshment areas etc. More details are in the main article.

8.Strictly avoid throwing non disposable items in water.

9.The locals in and around sundarbans lead life in poverty and hardship.Wherever possible try to support locals.

Trip at glance

The Sundarban tour typically start from any one of the ferry ghats from where tourists have to embark the boat.Breakfast and lunch is served on the boat as it cruises along the canals with mangrove on both side. This is an unique and cherishing experience .

The sundarbans have 2 area, first is the outer/unreserved area and the second is the reserved or core area which is more interior, where the famed Bengal tigers can be seen.

By evening of the first day ,the boat reaches the vicinity of the core area and halts at a village called Pakhiralay. This is one of the tourist spot in Sunderban having hotels,lodges,local shops etc.All core area bound boats anchors here.Many hotels arranges for cultural folk dances & songs performed by locals which is another attraction of this area.You can opt to spend the night in the boat if it suits.

Day 2 starts with the boats leaving pakhiralay as early as possible.Breakfast is served on the boat.As the boat moves along the canopy changes on both sides, as canal becomes narrower giving the sense and the thrill of the dense forest.The boat makes its way to the next tourist stop sudhanyakhali tiger camp,which has a watch tower and a very impressive and unique collection of all the species of mangrove that are found in and around sundarbans, a must visit for all botany enthusiasts. From there, the next stop is the Dobanki camp which has a watch tower and a thrilling canopy walk, 20 ft from the ground with mangrove forest below.

Once that is covered and returned to boat,lunch will be served as the boat makes its way back to outer areas of sundarban and to the drop off point of the tour.From Dobanki it takes another 3-4 hours for the journey to end.

See the thrills of the forest and bounties of nature through my lens and videos below.

Photographic Journey

Day 1

Day 1 starts with tourists descending the steps of Godkhali jetty to embark on their journey.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

The jetty could be very crowded during peak seasons.It is advisable to always watch your steps while moving along such places.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Loaded boats starts towards their destinations with mangrove on both sides.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Winter in general and weekends in particular are packed with tourists.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

One can see merchant ships traveling to and from Bangladesh as the border is very close.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Inside a typical boat.The upper deck is the sitting area where they also serve food.The lower deck houses the sleeping berth along with attached baths. Most boat have both Indian and western style lavatories.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Young faces eager to catch a glimpse of the big cat.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

As the boat moves along the canal , scenes on both sides changes.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

The gentle bends,the greenery ,the water of the narrow canal relaxes the mind .

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

The sandy areas near the canal is where crocodiles can be found basking in the winter sun.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Fencing made by nets can be seen all along the coast of the canal.This is done to prevent the Bengal tiger from leaving the forest area and cross the canal into locality.The Bengal Tigers are unexpectedly very good swimmers and can cross the widest part of the canal at record time.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Finally its dusk at sunderban.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

The setting sun is a sight to behold.

Photo of Godkhali Ferry Ghat Rest Point, State Highway 3, Mazidbari, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray
Day 2

Next is the Dobanki tiger camp.Here there is a watch tower amidst the mangrove forest.From the tower you can view wild animal coming out of the forest .Apart from the tower there is a enthralling canopy walk ( as seen in the picture) which is about half a km long and 20ft from ground.

Photo of DOBANKI WATCH TOWER, DOBANKI, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

We havnt managed to get a glimpse of the bengal tiger , but did got to catch a snap of this deer roaming freely in the wild.

Photo of DOBANKI WATCH TOWER, DOBANKI, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Next stop is Sudhanyakhali . View from the Sudhanyakhali watch tower.

Photo of Sudhanyakhali Tiger Camp, Sundarban, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray
Day 1

The day ends with the boats anchoring at Pakhiralay village.Rest of the evening is spent roaming in the local area,going through souvenir shops or simple enjoying the pollution free village aura.

Photo of Pakhiralay, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Almost all local shops sells honey and gur ( fluid delicacy made from extract of palm tree) during winter. However the quality may vary , and you have to verify before buying.

Photo of Pakhiralay, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Pakhiralay village is a small area with a single road running through it and all hotel,guest houses,shops etc set up on either side of it. All Sunderban core area bound boats anchor here for the night stay and its one of the tourist spot in Sunderban.

Photo of Pakhiralay, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Local ladies selling gur ,honey and palm juice early morning on road sided.Palm juice are very healthy as long as you take it early in the day before sun rises harshly.Once that happens ,fermentation takes place & the palm juice turn alcoholic,which you can take but it looses the health benefits.

Photo of Pakhiralay, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Some of the lodges in Pakhiralaya.

Photo of Pakhiralay, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

Day 2 starts with early morning stroll in the village side.You can find such farming fields on the either side of the road

Photo of Pakhiralay, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

These places are frequented by different species of birds.

Photo of Pakhiralay, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray

The boat leaves Pakhiralay as early as possible.Breakfast are served on boat soon after the boat starts.Here is a view of the village as we depart.We can see all boats lined up and ready to pick up the passengers and start.

Photo of Pakhiralay, West Bengal, India by Debanjan Ray