Sundarban, the largest delta in the world, consists of 10,200 sq km of Mangrove Forest, spread over India and Bangladesh. The part of the forest within Indian territory is called Sundarbans National Park and is in the southern part of West Bengal. The Sundarbans cover an area of 38,500 sq km, of which about one-third is covered by water/marsh. The forest has a large number of Sundari trees and it is said that the forest derived its name from these trees.
The people of Sundarbans are primarily dependent on agriculture and live in villages adjoining the forest. The hardships of daily existence have given rise to fraternal feelings and non-communal traditions here. Members of both Hindu and Muslim communities worship the same Gods and Goddesses. Wildlife flourishes in Sundarbans, and the main attraction is the Royal Bengal Tiger. These tigers have adapted themselves to surviving in Sundarbans and developed the ability to swim in the saline waters. It is the natural habitat of many other wild animals like jungle fowl, giant lizards, spotted deer, wild boar, crocodiles, etc. Siberian ducks set up residence during their migratory season. Besides the Royal Bengal Tiger, Sundarbans is also home to endangered species like Batagur baska, King Crabs and Olive Ridley Turtles.
Sundarbans has been a wildlife sanctuary since 1966. Sundarbans National Park was proclaimed as the core area of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in 1973. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 1987 and the Sundarbans region as a whole was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1989. It is estimated that there are now 400 Royal Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area.
In and Around
Sajnekhali Watch Tower
Sajnekhali Watch Tower is counted among the most renowned watch towers in the park. The reason behind its popularity is its close proximity to a number of resorts in the Sunderban area. This place also serves as the head office of the forest department. A tourist can obtain the permission to enter the national park from this spot only. The watch tower can accommodate 20 people at a time. The major attractions in this region are Bono Bini Temple, Mangrove Interpretation Center and the tourist lodge of the Bengal Tourism Department. This watch tower makes exploring the wilderness fun and easy. Especially, the bird lovers get a special spectacle of avifauna species such as Pelican, Kingfishers, Plovers, Lap Wings, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Whimprel, Curfews, and Sandpipers.
Sudhanyakhali Watch Tower
Sudhanyakhali Watch tower is the perfect place from where a wildlife freak can spot a tiger. The watch tower can hold 25 people at a time. There is a pond having sweet water behind the watch tower. Wild animals use to come and drink water at this point. There is vast grassland behind the pond which endows an invigorating site of the wilds. Other than the tigers, one can also spot other wildlife species such as crocodiles, wild boars and axis deer.
Do Ban Ki Watch Tower
This watch tower renders canopy walk that a tourist can carry out to view the riveting flora and fauna. This canopy walk is at an elevation of 20 feet from the ground and is about half a kilometer in length. Apart from tigers, tourists may also encounter Bahmini Kites and Chital Deer.
Netidhopani Watch Tower
This watch tower is linked with the famous tale of Lakhindari and Behula. It is said that on the extreme right of the woods, there is a road edified by King Pratap Aditya in order to protect the coastal area. The tower can accommodate 20 people at a time and it also embraces a sweet water lake in close proximity.
The mudflats at Sundarbans National Park are popular tourist attractions in Sundarbans. Tourists love coming here to see Horseshoe Crab, Octopus and Sea Anemones.
It is a famous picnic spot near Sunderbans. It is an island where nature’s beauty can be enjoyed.
Bhagatpur Crocodile Project
This area is an abode of the largest estuarine crocodiles. It embraces a famous hatchery and sanctuary making it a well-liked tourist charm in Sunderban.
It is a small area or town on the trail to the Sunderban National Park. It is an extremely scenic place that also offers a doorway to Sunderban.
These isles are positioned on the southern side of Sunderban Tiger Reserve. Holiday Wildlife Sanctuary is also located within the region. The sanctuary has the honor of being the last retreat of the rare barking deer. The Lothian Island Wildlife Sanctuary situated nearby is no less than a paradise for those who love to relish the sight of exotic birds.
The crystal clear waters and shores in Kanak are counted among the most preferred basking spot for Olive Ridley Turtles. There are many myths connected with Kanak these turtles. It is said that they travel in upright position to a distance of about 100 kilometers from the mouth of the sea to the Sunderban National Park.
The best time to visit Sunderbans is during winters between December and February although the park is open for longer from September to March. This is the period when the maximum migratory birds are also present here.
How to Reach
Airways is the most convenient and efficient means to reach Sunderbans. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport at Kolkata (112 km) is only a 3 hour drive away.
Local trains regularly ply between Canning and Sealdah (South) and take an hour and a half. Locally shared vans are also available from Canning to Godhkhali Jetty, where the boat journey to the Sundarbans starts from.
A well-laid network of roadways connects Sunderbans to Kolkata, 110 km away. Public transport can be easily hired from Sonakhali (100 km), Namkhana (105 km), Canning (64 km), Raidighi (76 km) and Najat (92 km) – all at short motorable distances and having access to waterways.
Waterways are also favorable and can reach you to your destination in a very short span of time. By riverine waterways one can access the Sunderban delta. Jambudeep, Namkhana are the few places that are linked by waterways.
Since the Deltaic Sunderbans is located in backwater area, you shall have to hire an airboat that would take you around the interior of the Delta. To reach Sunderbans, one can also access the air route. But then the person has to ensure a car that may take him to Namkhana, the entry gate of Sunderban Delta. From there boats are available in plenty.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
There are numerous accommodation options in and around Sundarbans National Park where tourists love to stay. All these hotels are located at a convenient distance from the park and offer an adventurous stay.
The best option of accommodation for tourists is the wildlife lodges and resorts that are located near Sundarbans National Park. These resorts excel when it comes to providing amenities and comfortable stay to the guests.
The close proximity to National Park makes it convenient for tourists to go on early morning boat rides. Some of these wildlife resorts plan special tours for tourists to the National park so that the guests can simply sit back and relax.
Some popular accommodations include Sajnekhali Tourist Lodge, Sunderban Tiger Camp, Sunderbans Jungle Camp, etc.
Sunderban Tiger Camp
9, 2nd Floor, Mitter House,
71, Ganesh Chandra Avenue,
Ganesh Chandra Avenue, Kolkata,
West Bengal 700013
Sajnekhali Tourist Lodge
P O Pakhiralaya, P S Gosaba,
Sunderban , West Bengal,743379
Where to Eat
There are no stand-alone restaurants in Sunderbans. The only available options are the restaurants attached to the various hotels and resorts in the Park.