Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sunderbans National Park

Go there for: Bengal Tiger, Ridley Sea Turtle
Sunderban National Park at a glance
Welcome to world’s largest delta located in Piyali, West Bengal, formed by the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghana rivers and watered by the mighty Bay of Bengal. The Sunderbans - extending over an area of 1330.10-sq-km - comprises of mangrove or 'sundari' forests, swamps and forest islands all interwoven in a network of small rivers and streams. Well, we aren’t here to promote the geographical uniqueness of this alluvial archipelago of 54 islands. Sunderbans are here for you for its priceless reserve of the world famous Royal Bengal Tiger. A trip to the Sunderbans will not only mean getting to watch the the Royal predators from surprisingly close proximity but also feel the taste of the life in nature's moist wilderness.
Widlife Attractions of Sunderban National Park
The Sunderbans is one of the world's largest wetlands. Every 12 hours, high tide deluges the mangroves. The Bengal tigers have adopted themselves excellently to the aqua and the saline environs of the Sunderbans. At present there are about 200 Bengal Tigers that inhabit the national park. As you explore the jungles, you have chances of spotting a variety of fascinating wildlife like - the Chital Deer, Rhesus Monkey, Wild Pigs, Wild Boars, Chital, Swamp Deer, little porpoise, Indian fox, fishing cat, common grey mongoose, Indian flying fox, pangolin, small Indian civet, Rhinoceroses, Indian python, Monitor lizard. The aqua / amphibian fauna in the park include the famous Ridley Sea Turtle, variety of fishes, red Fiddler Crabs and Hermit Crabs, crocodiles, Gangetic Dolphin, Water monitor, mollusks and crabs. The endangered river Terrapin, Batagur Baska is found on the Mechua Beach, while the Barkind Deer is found only in Holiday Island in Sundarbans.
The swampy marshlands and dense mangrove forests at the Sunderbans offer an ideal habitat for the various bird species. Commonly sighted birds are - varieties of stork, kingfishers, eagles, white ibis, swamp francolin, Asian dowitcher, white-bellied sea eagle, purple heron, egrets, brown fish owl, osprey, peregrine falcon, green-backed heron, Scaly-breasted Munia, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Baya Weaver, House Sparrow, Purple Sunbird, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Loten's Sunbird, Striated Babbler, Striped Tit-Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Ashy Prinia, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Asian Pied Starling, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Common Woodshrike, Small Minivet, Black-hooded Oriole, Mangrove Whistler, Cinnamon Bittern, Gull-billed Tern, Common Flameback, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Northern Pintail and so on.
During the spring, the flaming red leaves of the Genwa bejewel the swampy islands. The other dominant floral species in the Sundarbans are crab like red flowers of the Kankara and the yellow blooms of Khalsi. As you go deeper into the Sundarbans, you discover large floral population consisting of trees like Genwa, Goran, Dhundal, Passur, Garjan and Kankara.
Safari Adventure
The WBTDC organizes guided tours- mostly of a duration of two or three days, starting and ending at Kolkata. They’re a good way of visiting Sunderbans without some of the adventure which accompanies making your own arrangements. Within Sunderbans, the only way to get around is by boat; you can take a boat ride, along with an official from the Project Tiger office.
What more to look out for in Sunderban
The Sajnakhali Sanctuary : Protected from all sides by netted wires, the complex houses a museum, a watchtower and the Herbivore Acclimatisation Centre. Famous for its rich avian population, it is regarded as a part of the Sunderbans National Park. The most sought after sight is the confluence of seven colourful species consisting of Kingfisher, white bellied Sea Eagle, Plovers, Lap-Wings, Curfews, Whimbrels, Sandpipers and occasional Pelican. Don't miss out the Canopy Walk to its south-west where you can stroll through the mangrove thickets.Netidhopani : At Netidhopani, discover the ruins of a 400 year old temple.
Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project: A few hours drive from Namkhana will bring you to a hatchery of the world's largest estuarine crocodile, flanked by the Saptamukhi River.Bhagabatpur : Bhagabatpur is famous for having a hatchery of the largest estuarine crocodiles in the world.Kanak : Kanak is the nesting place of the Olive Ridley Turtles.Haliday Island : Haliday island is famous as last retrest of Barking Dear in India.Piyali : Piyali is the gatway to Sundarbans, 72-kms from Kolkatta by road. A small river Piyali flows through the green paddy fields and mingles with river Matla. This along with Kaikhali make ideal romantic holiday destination. A beautiful tourist complex with accommodation and recreation facilities is also situated over here.Boat Cruises: The special feature of these boat cruises are the organization of business conferences and seminars on the deck in the morning followed by a palatable Bengali lunch consisting of Bengali delicacies like fish and prawns. You can also enjoy a jam session in the boat relishing the melodious music. The watchtowers at Netidhopan, Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali and Haldi- provide you an excellent view of the wildlife.
How to reach there

Sundarbans are accessible only by riverrine waterways. Motor launch facilitiy are available from Namkhana - Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project- Sagar Island -Jambudwip; from Sajnekhali - Sudhanyakhali-Buridabri- Netidhopan-Holiday Island; from Sonakhali - Gosaba; from Raidighi - Kalas. The nearest airport is Kolkatta (112 km) and nearest railhead is Canning (48 km). From Port Canning, regular buses ply to Sonakhali, Raidighi, Najat and Namkhana. The excellent road network connects Namkhana to Kolkata, Sonakhali (100 km), Raidighi (76 km), Canning (64 km) and Najat (92 km), all lying nearby the Sunderbans.
Ideal time to visit: During the months of September and May. Winter is the ideal season to spot the mighty Royal Bengal tiger sun-bathing on the river banks.
Accommodation options
Within the Sunderbans reserve, the only accommodation available is at Sajnekhali, where there’s a tourist lodge. The lodge stands atop pillars- to keep away hungry tigers- and has rooms as well as dormitories. Outside the park, especially at Piyali and Bakkhali, are tourist lodges and hotels which can be an alternative for anyone looking for a place to stay. Rates vary considerably, depending upon what level of comfort you’re looking for.



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