Sundarbans National Park is a spectacular wildlife destination located in 24-Paraganas district of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is also a Biosphere Reserve and Tiger Reserve of West Bengal that is declared to be a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The word ‘Sundarbans’ in Sanskrit implies ‘beautiful forests’ that aptly describes the natural beauty of the place. Sundarbans National Park is sprawled over an area of 10,000 Square Kilometres and is known to be the largest delta in the World, formed by the confluence of three rivers, Ganges, Meghana and Brahmaputra Rivers. The delta is covered densely by mangrove forests and is the largest reserves for the Indian Bengal Tiger. Besides the park is also an abode for reptiles, invertebrate species and a variety of avifauna.
The Sundarbans was once believed to be a part of the sea owing to the heavy silt deposits that led to the formation of Delta. The rich and isolated swamps of the delta was declared as Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in the year 1973 and later in 1977 was granted a status of Wildlife Sanctuary. The core area spread over 1330 Square Kilometres was accredited to be a National Park in 1984. The Sundarbans National Park was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1985.
Attractions at the Park
The Sundarbans National Park is home to more than 400 Bengal Tigers that have adapted themselves to the aqua and saline environs of the park. The adventurous wet land of Sundarbans is also home to herds of chital, langurs, wild boars, macaques, leopards, fishing cats, flying fox, mongoose and pangolin to name a few. Crocodiles can also be spotted at the muddy banks. Sundarbans National Park is also renowned for rare Ridley Sea Turtle and different species of reptiles like water monitor, rock python and king cobra. There are vital destinations and watchtowers spread around the park that optimise your wildlife sighting.
The Sanjhanaki Sanctuary is renowned worldwide for its avian population and is an integral part of the Sundarbans National Park. It is an ultimate destination for birding that draws bird watchers from far and wide. Some of the common birds sighted here are Plovers, Kingfisher, Lap-Wings, white-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whimbrels, Pelicans and Sandpipers. The pleasure of sighting these colourful birds is truly enchanting.
Watchtowers in Sundarbans National Park are placed at strategic locations to increase the likelihood of wildlife sightings for the tourists. Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali, Netidhopani and Haldi are the few watchtower areas inside the park. Of these, the first three are known to be the primary Project Tiger Islands. The Sajnekhali Tourist Centre also has a pond filled with sharks, a turtle hatchery and a crocodile enclosure.
Information about the Safari
Sundarbans National Park is the abode of 58 species of mammals, 55 kinds of reptiles and nearly 250 species of avifauna. Safari rides inside the park are excellent means to explore the marshlands. As most of the area within the park is wet, jeep safari rides are not allowed here. Tourists can take boat rides to sight wild animals that come to edge of the river bank. However, disembarking from the boat anywhere within the park is not allowed. Visitors can book boat cruise privately or even hire ones operated by the Tourism Department.
The boat cruise at Sundarbans National Park can be a day trip and so the duration varies.Timings:
All day long.Entry Pass and Permits:
The entry pass and permits for visiting the Sundarbans National Park can be obtained from the Forest Department office at Sajnekhali and is mandatory for every visitor. Foreigners must provide their passports and travel papers at the time of taking the permit. The park entry fee is fixed for both domestic and International tourists. Video cameras are allowed after paying the fee. You can also hire a trained guide.Dos and Don’ts Within the Park:
- Maintain silence within the park so as to not distract the animals in their natural habitats
- Playing radio or transistors inside the park is not allowed
- Do not wear flashy clothes and instead wear neutral colors
- Do not use strong smell or perfumes when visiting the park
- Do not feed or tease the animals inside the park
- Do not park anywhere inside the park
- Drive slowly and always give way to the animals, as it is their home
- Carrying inflammable objects inside the park is not allowed
- Eatables and drinking water
- Sunglasses and cap or hat
- Mosquito repellent are an essential here as the area is very swampy
- Camera with spare films and batteries
Safety Measures to be Followed
Getting off your vehicle anywhere inside the park can be dangerous. Also do not try to get too close to wild animals. Follow the safety guidelines given by your guide.
Best Time to Visit the Park
Owing to its close proximity to the Bay of Bengal, the weather at Sundarbans National Park is hot and humid. Summers from March till June are uncomfortably hot, and therefore not a chosen season for the tourists. The months of monsoon from July to September is characterised with heavy rainfall and the climate is very windy and wet. The best season to visit the Sundarbans National Park is from the months of November to February.
Nearby Tourists Attractions
Netidhopani is 400 years old ancient temple close to the Sundarbans National Park that is left in ruins now.
Bhagabatpur Crocodile Park is the abode of the biggest estuarine crocodiles. The sanctuary also functions as a hatchery for the same.
Piyali is the popular tourist spot for wildlife enthusiasts visiting the Sundarbans National Park. The meeting point of River Piyali and River Matla is surrounded by lush green paddy field and makes a truly mesmerising scenic destination.
Kaikhali is a favourite picnic spot located at close proximity from the Sundarbans National Park. The island is well-known for its natural beauty.