Sunderbans Tiger Reserve
My vacations kicked off with an unexpected and rather refreshing trip to West Bengal’s asset- the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve. We started off from Kolkata by road on the 6th of May. The journey from Kolkata to Godhkali can be made in 2-3 hours, from where a ferry has to be taken to Gosaba or any of the islands your hotel is located on. It is best to have an organized tour, as moving around in Sunderbans alone without any guide might be difficult, as the travel agencies organize everything from the permits to the guides. Though we were a little apprehensive about the food and accommodation, the hospitality received at our end was commendable. May is not a very good time to visit , as it is extremely hot and spotting tigers is near to impossible and the best time to visit would be between November-March.
Our hotel was located on Bali Island , which spans over a very large expanse and it took us approximately 1 hour to get there from Godhkali. The hotel, ‘Tora’ was surprisingly quite lavish , considering the resources they have at hand. The staff was exceptionally hospitable, and the rooms were pretty decent. Apart from the 3 cottages , the package also comprised of a boat which was there with us at all times, and in fact it was the boat ride which was the highlight of our trip.
The very first place that we decided to visit was the Sajnekhali Tiger Reserve , in the hope of spotting a few crocodiles , but to our dismay , the number of crocodiles in the reserve has come down from 7 to 1. This disappointment was counterbalanced by the yummy Bengali meal served to us on the boat. At Sajnekhali, the Mangrove Interpretation Centre gave us a lot of information about the wildlife of the area, and we also found a small crocodile and turtle hatchery here, along with a water monitor, which seemed very fascinating along with the different kinds of Kingfishers , however we spotted the Collared- kingfisher most frequently. Travelling by boat has its own charm , and when you add to that the world’s largest river delta and the huge expanses of Mangrove forest the effect just multiplies.
Apart from Sajnekhali we also visited the Dobanki Tiger resreve, where we did a canopy walk , which was a big let down, as the surrounding areas are completely enclosed by fences , making spotting any animal, let alone tigers even more difficult. The reason why so many fences have been put is because there have been many instances of tigers swimming across and entering villages and a large number of villagers have been killed as a result. However, an interesting thing to note is that these fences aren’t made of iron or any other kind of metal to prevent wear and tear , but are made of nylon. So, yes though these fences can easily be torn apart by tigers , but according to the guides these fences aren’t meant to serve as a difficult escape route , but they simply serve as psychological barriers. However, they aren’t as effective , as incidents occur in villages almost every 3 days.
The name Sundarbans comes from the ‘Sundari trees’ which grow abundantly in the area, though a major part of the forests are located in the Bangladesh region. Apart from the sundari trees , the mangrove trees are very fascinating, particularly because of their unique roots and the beautiful and vibrant birds found perching on its branches.
Besides the wildlife, other things that you must not miss while your stay at sundarbans, and which we were lucky to experience was the mud walk and a dip in the ‘pukur’ ( bengali for pond).
Bali island , where our hotel was located has 2-3 other hotels , which are also quite good. The best part about Sunderbans is its peaceful, pure and fresh atmosphere. The innocence that we long for in the din and bustle of our city life, seems to burst at the seams and come spurting into your lungs, and we are left longing for more. If you happen to be in Kolkata , don’t miss out on this weekend getaway.https://www.gounesco.com/heritage/proof/sunderbans-tiger-reserve/https://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/14203012/DSC_0123-1024x681.jpghttps://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/14203012/DSC_0123-150x150.jpgUncategorizedheritage,india,nature,Sruti Lodha,sunderbans,travel,world heritage travel