- Country: India
- State: West Bengal
- Ideal Trip Duration: 2days
- Nearest City: Kolkata
- Best Time to Visit: October to March
- Peak Season: December
When it comes to Mangrove Forests, Sundarbans is on the top list as it is the world’s largest mangrove forest and is a group of low-lying islands in the Bay of Bengal spread over India and Bangladesh.
In 1987, Sundarbans was declared as the UNESCO World Heritage, as it is the hugest mangroves in the world with a vast area covering 4264 sq. km in India.
The rest of the expanse is spread across Bangladesh. In India, Sundarbans is located at the southeastern end of the 24 Paraganas district, about 110 km from Kolkata.
This beautiful forest got its name from the mangrove trees in the areas called Sundari (Heritiera Minor).
Sundarbans are a part of the largest delta, formed by the enormous rivers Ganga, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. There are hundreds of tributaries and creeks on the lower side of the Gangetic West Bengal.
This mangrove forest is accessible by boats or rafts through every nook and corner as waterways’ channels are well connected.
In the world, this mangrove forest is considered the biggest single block of tidal, halophytic mangroves.
Other major attractions here are the Tiger Reserve and Sundarbans National Park, which are truly a nirvana and are abode to many flora and fauna species.
There are about 78 species of mangroves in the Sundarbans Forest, and it serves as a wetland that plays a crucial role in the existence of marine organisms.
Apart from the alluring mangrove forest, Sundarbans is home to India’s majestic Royal Bengal Tiger.
The Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve is gifted with many endangered and rare animals, including aquatic mammals, tigers, birds, and reptiles.
The forest also acts as a shielding blockade for all the inhabitants from floods caused by cyclones.
The history of the Sundarbans started in 200-300AD, and a ruin of a city was found in the Baghmara Forest Block, which was built by Chand Sadagar.
These areas were given for lease to the nearby residents during the Mughal period. Later it was in the hands of Portuguese pirates and dacoits during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The area of mangrove forest was first mapped in Persian by the Surveyor General in 1769, and the proprietary rights were taken from the Mughal Emperor by the British East India Company during 1757.
After the establishment of the Forest Department in the 1860s, methodical management of the mangrove forest was commenced. Later a large part of the mangroves was declared as Reserved Forest under the Forest Act 1865.
Places to Visit in Sundarbans
Every tourist who visits Sundarbans will be eagerly waiting to see the imperial Royal Bengal Tiger.
Sudhanyakhali Watch Tower is the finest place to spot a tiger, and the tower can hold 25 people concurrently.
Most of the animals come near the pond next to the watchtower to drink some freshwater, and you can easily spot deer, tigers, crocodiles, wild boars, etc.
SUNDARBAN NATIONAL PARK
The entry fee to the park is INR 60 for Indian Residents and INR 200 for foreign nationals. You can also find a boat to take you through the mangroves, which will cost about INR 400 per day, which will cover all the zones except the interior of Netidhopani Zone. An extra fee of INR 800 will be charged to enter the interior Netidhopani zone.
This watchtower is quite famous as it is very close to several resorts in the Sundarban. Moreover, this place acts as the Forest Department’s head office from where a tourist can get permission to enter the national park.
Sajnekhali Watch Tower can accommodate 20 tourists at a time, and the other attractions here are Bono Bini Temple, Mangrove Interpretation Center, and the tourist lodge of Bengal Tourism Department.
The watchtower can be used to explore the national park’s wilderness and can spot many birds like the pelican, kingfishers, plovers, lapwings, white-bellied sea eagle, sandpipers, and more.
BHAGABATPUR CROCODILE SANCTUARY
One of the main tourist spots in Sundarban is this Bhagabatpur Crocodile Sanctuary, as it is the only crocodile project in West Bengal.
This sanctuary is situated next to the Lothian Island on the bank of Sapthamukhi estuary. The massive natural beauty of the dense mangrove forest at this river’s confluence attracts many tourists every year.
Tourists can also see estuarine crocodiles’ hatchery and the Batagur Baska Species of Tortoise in this sanctuary.
A mud walk and the mangrove cage trail are a striking view and experience to reach a viewpoint known as Raimongal. During the mud walk, tourists can see snails, varieties of crabs, and mollusks.
The watchtower looks remarkably beautiful as the bridge towards it and the tower is made of wood.
When you reach the top of the watchtower, you get a view of Bangladesh Sundarbans with the Raimongal River. The watchtower can hold 10 people at a time.
HALIDAY ISLAND WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
This sanctuary is a part of the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve, and the wildlife areas there are considered an eco-conscious tourist destinations.
Situated in the south 24 Parganas at the estuary of River Matla, Kalash Island serves as a breeding ground for the Olive Ridley Turtles during winters.
A large number of these turtles arrive in Kalash Island for nesting, and this island is endowed with varieties of coastal birds and uncommon waders.
Apart from that, this is the core area of Sundarbans, and visitors are only allowed to step on the beach with armed guards.
Tourists can take a walk through the stretch of mangrove forest by crossing a bamboo bridge. You will be able to see 50 ponds dug by the fisheries department on 100 hectares of land here.
This island was surveyed by a European in the late 19th century and is named after that surveyor.
Located on one of the deltaic islands, Bakkhali spreads across southern Bengal. You get to see narrow creeks with bridges connecting with various islands.
This beautiful crescent-shaped beach’s main attraction is that the tourist can see both sunrise and sunset from here as this island extends out into the immense span of the Bay of Bengal.
Another nearby beach, Frazerganj, is just 8kms away from here. The beach is peaceful and not crowded unless it is a holiday, and you can cycle or drive along the beach.
Taking a sip of fresh, tender coconut and a walk enjoying the breeze is sure to make you relaxed.
Interesting Facts about Sundarbans
Before visiting this remarkable mangrove, you should know some facts about it.
- Sundarbans is 10 times larger than the city of Venice, with 102 islands in the Indian region.
- World’s largest coastal mangrove forest is the Sundarbans.
- Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve is India’s Largest Fishery Board as it is famous for brackish water fish production and marine fisheries.
- An estimate of 400 fiery Royal Bengal Tigers is found in the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve.
- You can experience a unique tidal phenomenon of high and low tides twice a day.
- Night Safaris in Sundarbans are inimitable, as you get the sighting of Phytoplankton, the tiny micro-organisms that redirect light in the dark new moon.
Best Places to Visit / Other Tourist Attractions
To understand the culture and tradition of West Bengal, visit the capital city Kolkata which is approx. 100kms from the Sundarbans.
You get to see British Raj buildings, historic colleges, exquisite gardens, delicious food, and sweets, etc.
Some of the major attractions you can see in Kolkata include Howrah Bridge, Indian Museum, Victoria Memorial, Eden Gardens, Birla Temple, Marble Palace Mansion, and Jorasanko Thakurbai.
02 Mandarmani Beach
If you love to drive on the beach, then Mandarmani is the right choice for you. This beach is the longest drive-in beach in India and is 156kms away from Sundarbans.
Watching the colorful sunset at the beach is relaxing and peaceful. You also get to try some of the water sports here at the beach, like jet skiing, banana boat rides, bungee trampoline, and surfing.
West Bengal is not only the place of seas, backwaters, and mangroves; it has lush green mountains and tea plantations across various regions.
Siliguri is located at the Mahanada River, which is famous for tea estates and thick forests.
This place is 681 km away from Sundarbans, and a few attractions at Siliguri include Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Kanchenjunga Stadium, Iskcon Temple, Coronation Bridge, Hong Kong Market, Fulbari Barrage, and so on.
This is an exotic hill station situated nearly 302 km away from Sundarbans.
Darjeeling is one of India’s best hill stations, where you can see a wide range of tea estates, white magnolias, colonial-era constructions, making it a perfect holiday destination for many tourists.
When you visit Darjeeling, one thing you should never miss trying is the Toy- Train. A few other attractions like Tiger Hill, Everest Museum, Neora National Park, Japanese Peace Pagoda, Barbotey Rock Garden, etc., are all an enthralling addition to your trip.
One of the most heard places in West Bengal is Hooghly, which is located at a distance of 156km from Sundarbans is famous for its historical significance.
This district was earlier colonized by the Portuguese, French, and Dutch, and when you enter this city, you can easily realize it by seeing the architecture it offers.
Some of the tourist places in Hooghly includes Trakeshwar Temple, Hooghly Imambara Deer Park, Hangseshwari Temple, Antpur Radhagovindjiu Temple, an ancient place Kamarpukur, Cooch Behar – a land influenced by Mughals, and more.
This place is the trove of a Nobel Bengali poet, writer, composer, philosopher, and painter, Rabindranath Tagore.
Approximately 355km away from Sundarbans, Shantiniketan offers splendid murals, sculptures, paintings of famous artists.
If you love festivals, then some of the famous ones are Poush Mela celebrated in December, Basanta Utsav in March, and Joydev Mela in January.
How to Reach Sundarbans
By Road: You can reach Sundarbans by well-connected roads from Kolkata. Public transport is accessible easily with an extra way to waterways from places like Sonakhal, Namkhana, Canning, Najat, and Raidghi.
By Air: Netaji Subhash International Airport at Dumdum Kolkata is the nearest airport to Sundarban. You can either take a train or car/public transport to reach Sundarbans, which is approx. 112kms.
By Rail: Canning is the nearest railway station to Sundarbans and s approx. 48kms away. You can easily catch a train from Sealdah to Canning at any time of the day. From Canning, take a bus to Namkhana, Raidighi, Najat, or Sonakhali.
By Waterways: River transportation is abundantly available to reach Sundarbans. Motorboats can be hired from Namkhana, Sagar Island, Sonakhali, Raidighi, or Sajnekhali.
- STD Code: 033
- Languages Spoken: Bengali, Hindi, English.
- Major Festivals: Bonbibi-r Palagaan
- Nearest Tourist Information Center: 033-2243 6440
- Nearest Hospital: Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals | Contact: +913323202122
- Nearest Police Station: Sundarban Coastal Police Station | Contact: 03210-255100
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