You can only expect a delightful time in Sundarbans when the name itself means ‘beautiful forest’ in Bengali. A mangrove forest, Sundarbans is one of the largest forests of its kind that lies on the delta formed by the junction of Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna rivers. A crucial habitat for the Bengal tiger, Sundarbans is also home to rich flora and fauna, making it one of the most exotic destinations to venture.
Spanning in an area of 20,400 square kilometres, Sundarbans National Park is known as the world’s largest mangrove ecosystem. The mangroves are a beautiful gradation from marine to freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. Hence, it is a brilliant spot for some of the most striking species of shrimps, crabs, fish, crustaceans, birds, reptiles, and mammals. Some of the most stunning ones are chital deer, Indian python, leopard cat, grey-headed fish eagle, saltwater crocodile, etc. Not to mention, Sundarbans Tiger Reserve India was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The best time to visit Sundarbans is between the month of November to March. It is the perfect time for wildlife sighting, including the very famous Bengal tiger. The pleasant weather makes your visit even more enjoyable. If the heat doesn’t dread you, you can also plan to visit Sundarbans between April and July. Remember that the temperature may rise to 43°C, so you should prepare well for that as well.
Talking about Sundarbans National Park timings, the safari in Sundarbans starts at 8:30 am and ends at 4:00 pm. You can only indulge in boat safari as there is no provision of jeep safari in Sundarbans.
When it comes to the history of Sundarbans, it can be dated back to 200-300 AD. In the Baghmara Forest Block, a remnant of a city built by Chand Sadagar has been found. History also tells that the Mughal Kings used to lease the Sundarbans forests to neighbouring residents during their rule. During the reign of Akbar, criminals took refuge in the jungles of Sundarbans from his advancing armies.
In the 17th Century, Portuguese dacoits, pirates, and salt smugglers usurped various buildings. The ruins at Netidhopani and nearer areas are proof of the fact. After going through a series of changes, Sundarbans National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Be it the unique geography of the forest, or the magnificent biodiversity, a nature lover has to visit Sundarbans at least once in their lifetime. When in Sundarbans National Park West Bengal, you get so lost in the beauty of nature, you won’t even realize that the crocodiles and big cats are always observing you! Hence, there is no doubt that Sundarbans contribute a lot to India Tourism. Below are some of the best places to visit in Sundarbans.
1. Netidhopani. Netidhopani is a treat for historians and history enthusiasts as the ruins here reflect the history of Sundarbans that dates back to hundreds of years. Witness the beauty of sweet water ponds, and the 400-year-old Shiva temple to get all amazed.
2. Kalash Island. If you plan to visit Sunderbans in winter, you cannot miss out on Kalash Island. While you will be astounded with the greenery on the island, you will also fall in love with the Olive Ridley Turtles, and the exquisite coastal birds.
3. Sajnekhali Watchtower. Do you love birdwatching? If yes, then Sajnekhali Watch Tower is sure to surprise you! It is a perfect place for spotting some wondrous bird species. It is near the Sundarbans National Park and can accommodate only 20 people at a time. If you make it to the watchtower, you can spot birds like plovers, kingfishers, pelicans, etc.
4. Henry Island. If beaches enthrall you, then you should visit Henry Island. Explore the beauty of mangrove forests and the diversity of fauna to have a good time. Take a walk by the beach and dive into the serenity of nature.
You can travel to Sundarbans via train, road, air, or waterways. Kolkata acts as the central location to help you reach Sundarbans. From Kolkata, you can opt for the most suitable mode of transport as per your preference. Its approximate distance from Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru are 1400, 1700, 1600 km respectively. Below is how you can reach Sundarbans National Park.
By Air. If you are travelling via air, you will have to deboard at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport at Kolkata. From the airport, you can take a cab or a local train to Canning. It will take you 2 hours to reach Canning. Once you have reached Canning, you will have to move towards Gadkhali Jetty via local shared vans. At Gadkhali Jetty, you can catch a boat to reach Sundarbans National Park.
By Train. From Sundarbans, the closest railway station is Sealdah Railway Station. Hence, you will have to deboard there and get on a local train to reach Canning, which will take 2 hours. From Canning, you can catch a local van to Gadkhali Jetty. From Gadkhali Jetty, you’ll have to ride on a boat to reach Sundarbans.
By Road. If you are looking forward to travelling via road, you will have to move from Kolkata to Gadkhali. You can either book a cab, or drive your own car to reach Gadkhali. It will take approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to reach your destination. From Gadkhali, you can take a boat to reach Sundarbans National Park West Bengal.
By Waterway. The only way to reach Sundarbans via waterway is from Gadkhali. To reach Gadkhali, you will have to drive from Canning. Local shared vans are the most common way to reach Gadkhali.