Sunderban National Park – Everything you need to know 1


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Sunderban national park located at the South Eastern tip of the 24 Paraganas district in the state of West Bengal. It got its name from one of the mangrove plants known as Sundari (Heritiera Minor). The Sundarbans are a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers

The Sundarbans are a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. Sundarban is a vast area covering 4262 square kms in India alone, with a larger portion in Bangladesh. 2585 sq. kms of the Indian Sundarban forms the largest Tiger Reserve and National Park in India. The total area of the Indian part of the Sundarban forest, lying within the latitude between 21°13′-22°40′ North and longitude 88°05′-89°06′ East, is about 4,262 sq km, of which 2,125 sq km is occupied by mangrove forest across 56 islands and the balance is under water.

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The park is surrounded by a buffer zone of 885 square kilometers. This also mainly consists of mangrove forests. The core area of the park has it’s own natural boundaries with the river Matla on it’s West, the river Haribhanga on it’s East, with Netidhopani and Gosaba in the North.

The four Sunderbans national parks have been lumped together as they all share common features of the estuarine mangrove ecosystem. The main attractions of the Sunderbans are the Tiger, of which the delta harbor large reptiles like the Monitor Lizard, Estuarine Crocodile and the Olive Ridley Turtle, for which there is a conservation programme in the Indian park. The Leopard, Indian Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, Swamp Deer, Hog Deer and Water Buffalo have all become locally extinct from the delta in recent decades.

Read More: Our First Impressions of Sunderbans

Best Season

The best time to visit Sunderbans is during winters between December and February.although the park is open for longer from September to March. This is the period when the maximum migratory birds are also present here.

Travel Information:

The entry point to Sunderban Tiger Reserve is either Sonakhali via Canning, or Bagna via Dhamakhali. For visiting South 24 Parganas Forest Division, on the western part of river Matla, the entry points are Namkhana, Raidighi or Jharkhali via Canning/Basanti. Entry Permits are available at Canning, Sonakhali and Bagna for STR and at Canning, Namkhana and Raidighi for Western part of Sunderban Forest.

Important Places:

Sajnekhali Watch Tower:

Sajnekhali Watch Tower is counted among the most renowned watch towers in the park. The reason behind its popularity is its close proximity to a number of resorts in the Sunderban area. This place also serves as the head office of the forest department. A tourist can obtain the permission to enter the national park from this spot only. The watch tower can accommodate 20 people at a time. The major attractions in this region are Bono Bini Temple, Mangrove Interpretation Center and the tourist lodge of the Bengal Tourism Department. This watch tower makes exploring the wilderness fun and easy. Especially, the bird lovers get a special spectacle of avifauna species such as Pelican, Kingfishers, Plovers, Lap Wings, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Whimprel, Curfews, and Sandpipers.

Sudhanyakhali Watch Tower:

Sudhanyakhali Watch tower is the perfect place from where a wildlife freak can spot a tiger. The watch tower can hold 25 people at a time. There is a pond having sweet water behind the watch tower. Wild animals use to come and drink water at this point. There is vast grassland behind the pond which endows an invigorating site of the wilds. Other than the tigers, one can also spot other wildlife species such as crocodiles, wild boars and axis deer.

Do Ban Ki Watch Tower:

This watch tower renders canopy walk that a tourist can carry out to view the riveting flora and fauna. This canopy walk is at an elevation of 20 feet from the ground and is about half a kilometer in length. Apart from tigers, tourists may also encounter Bahmini Kites and Chital Deer.

Netidhopani Watch Tower:

This watch tower is linked with the famous tale of Lakhindari and Behula. It is said that on the extreme right of the woods, there is a road edified by King Pratap Aditya in order to protect the coastal area. The tower can accommodate 20 people at a time and it also embraces a sweet water lake in close proximity.

Bhagatpur Crocodile Project:

This area is an abode of the largest estuarine crocodiles. It embraces a famous hatchery and sanctuary making it a well-liked tourist charm in Sunderban.

Piyali:

It is a small area or town on the trail to the Sunderban National Park. It is an extremely scenic place that also offers a doorway to Sunderban.

Halliday Island:

These isles are positioned on the southern side of Sunderban Tiger Reserve. Halliday Wildlife Sanctuary is also located within the region. The sanctuary has the honor of being the last retreat of the rare barking deer. The Lothian Island Wildlife Sanctuary situated nearby is no less than a paradise for those who love to relish the sight of exotic birds.

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Kanak:

The crystal clear waters and shores in Kanak are counted among the most preferred basking spot for Olive Ridley Turtles. There are many myths connected with Kanak these turtles. It is said that they travel in upright position to a distance of about 100 kilometers from the mouth of the sea to the Sunderban National Park.

Wild Animals and Birds at Sunderban:

Sundarban mangrove forest is the single largest home of the Royal Bengal Tiger( Panthera tigris ).
Bengal tiger at lakeSundarban is also the only mangrove forest in the world having the tiger as its indigenous population. As per 2004 census, the tiger population in Indian Sundarban is around There are 58 species of mammals, 55 species of reptiles and around 248 bird species.

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Sundarbans also harbors a good number of rare and globally threatened animals including Estuarine Crocodile ( Crocodilus porosus ), Fishing Cat ( Felis viverrina ), Common otter ( Lutra lutra ), Water Monitor lizard ( Varanus salvator ), Gangetic Dolphin ( Platinista gangetica ), Snubfin dolphin ( Orcella brevirostris ), River Terrapin (Batagur baska ), marine turtles like Olive Ridley ( Lepidochelys olivacea ), Green Sea Turtle ( Chelonia mydas ), Hawksbill Turtle ( Eritmochelys imbricata ). Six species of Shark and Ray, which are found here, are included in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act. These indicate that Sundarban Reserved Forest is a natural biodiversity hot spot.

Other mammals comprise of Wild boars, Spotted deer, Porcupines and Rhesus macaque. Among the reptiles, the King cobra, the common cobra, Banded krait, Russells Viper comprise the community of venomous reptiles, while the Python, Chequered Kil-Back, Dhaman, Green Whip Snake and several other species constitute the non-venomous snakes.

There are about 248 bird species found in Sunderban national park including a large number of migratory birds from higher latitudes that visits the park in winter months Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Storks, Green Pigeons, Sand Pipers, Large and Small Spoonbills, Darters, Seagulls, Teal, Partridges, great variety of Wild Geese and Ducks.

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Key to birding in Sundarbans national park is overcoming the geographic and physical hurdles because of its difficult terrain as well as the limited view one gets from a noisy boat.

The main species of birds in Sunderban national park are:

  • Small Minivet
  • Black-hooded Oriole
  • Mangrove Whistler
  • Cinnamon Bittern
  • Swamp francolin
  • Grey-headed fishing eagle
  • Brown fish owl
  • Osprey
  • Purple Sunbird
  • Pale-billed Flowerpecker
  • Loten’s Sunbird
  • Striated Babbler
  • Striped Tit-Babbler
  • Brown-cheeked Fulvetta
  • Lemon-rumped Warbler
  • Brown-winged kingfisher
  • Purple heron, egrets
  • Asian open bill stork
  • Greater adjutant stork
  • Black-capped kingfisher
  • Asian dowitcher
  • Northern eagle owl
  • Common Woodshrike
  • Gull-billed Tern
  • Common Flameback
  • Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker
  • Peregrine falcon White-collared kingfisher
  • Northern Pintail White-bellied sea eagle
  • White ibis
  • Black-necked stork
  • Green-backed heron
  • Pallas’s fish eagle, 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 Pid Starling
  • Blue-throat Flycatcher

Getting there:

By Air :
Dum Dum (166kms), is the nearest airport at Kolkata.

By rail :
The nearest railhead is at Canning, 48 kms away.The nearest town is Gosaba, 50 kms away.
Sundarbans is accessible only by riverine waterways. From Kolkata there are suburban train to Canning and road transport to Namkhana, Raidighi, Sonakhali and Najat from where Motor launch services are available for Sundarbans.

By Road :
Above mentioned embarkation points from Kolkata are: Namkhana (105 km), Sonakhali (100 km), Raidighi (76 km), Canning (64 km), Najat (92 km).

By Waterways : Approximate time taken between various points are :
1. From Namkhana — Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project (2.5 hours) Sagar Island (2.5 hours) Jambudwip (3.5 hours)
2. From Sajnekhali — Sudhanyakhali (40 minutes) Buridabri (Tiger Project Area) (5 hours) Netidhopari (3.5 hours) Holiday Island (3 hours)
3. From Sonakhali — Gosaba (1 hour)
4. From Raidighi — Kalas (5 hours)

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