The Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. The Sundarbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering parts of Bangladesh and Indian state of West Bengal. So today, let us have a look at the Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal.
The Sundarbans National Park is a National Park, Tiger Reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve located in the Sundarbans delta in the Indian state of West Bengal. This region is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. The Sundarbans National Park is also home to a variety of bird, reptile and invertebrate species, including the salt-water crocodile. The present Sundarbans National Park was declared as the core area of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in 1973 and a wildlife sanctuary in 1977. On May 4, 1984 it was declared a National Park.
Chargheri Char in the Sundarbans National Park is a mudflat which is being developed as a tourist spot in the Sundarbans. One can visit it and enjoy the beauty of the place during low tide. If one is lucky, one can see Sea Anemones, Horseshoe crab (Nearing extinction) and small octopus. A must see spot for tourists visiting Sundarbans
The average minimum and maximum temperature is 20 °C and 48 °C respectively. Rainfall is heavy with humidity as high as 80% as it is close to the Bay of Bengal. The monsoon lasts from mid-June to mid-September.
The mangrove vegetation of Sundarbans consists of 64 plant species and they have the capacity to withstand estuarine conditions and saline inundation on account of tidal effects. In the month of April and May the flaming red leaves of the Genwa (Excoecaria agallocha) the crab-like red flowers of the Kankra (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza) and the yellow flowers of Khalsi (Aegiceras corniculatum) can be seen. Some of the other commonly found plants and trees in the park are Dhundal (or cannonball mangrove, Xylocarpus granatum), Passur (Xylocarpus mekongensis), Garjan (Rhizophora spp.), Sundari (Heritiera fomes) and Goran (Ceriops decandra).
The Sundarbans forest is home to more than 400 tigers. The Royal Bengal Tigers have developed a unique characteristic of swimming in the saline waters, and are famous for their man-eating tendencies. Tigers can be seen on the river banks sunbathing between November and February.
Apart from the Royal Bengal Tiger; Fishing Cats, Leopard Cats, Macaques, Wild Boar, Indian Grey Mongoose, Fox, Jungle Cat, Flying Fox, Pangolin, Chital, are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans.
Some of the birds commonly found in this region are openbill storks, black-capped kingfishers, black-headed ibis, Water Hens, Coots, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Pariah Kites, Brahminy Kite, Marsh Harriers, Swamp Partridges, Red Junglefowls, Spotted Doves, Common Mynahs, Jungle Crows, Jungle Babblers, Cotton Teals, Herring Gulls, Caspian Terns, Gray Herons, Common Snipes, Wood Sandpipers, Green Pigeons, Rose Ringed Parakeets, paradise-flycatchers, cormorants, Grey-headed Fish Eagles, White-bellied Sea Eagles, Seagulls, Common Kingfishers, Peregrine falcons, Woodpeckers, Whimbrels, Black-tailed Godwits, Little Stints, Eastern Knots, Curlews, Golden Plovers, Northern Pintails, White-eyed Pochards and Whistling teals.
Some of the fish and amphibians found in the park are Sawfish, Butter Fish, Electric rays, Silver carp, Star Fish, Common Carp, King Crabs, Prawn, Shrimps, Gangetic Dolphins, Skipping Frogs, Common Toads and Tree Frogs.
The Sundarbans National Park houses a large number of reptiles as well, including estuarine crocodiles, chameleons, monitor lizards, turtles, including Olive Ridley, hawksbill, and green turtles; and snakes including pythons, King Cobras, rat snakes, Russell s vipers, Dog Faced Water Snakes, Chequered Killbacks, and Common Kraits.
The endangered species that lives within the Sundarbans are Royal Bengal Tiger, Saltwater Crocodile, River Terrapin, Olive Ridley Turtle, Gangetic dolphin, Ground Turtle, Hawks Bill Turtle and Mangrove horseshoe crab.
The only means of travelling the park is to by boat, down the various lanes formed by the many flowing rivers. Local boats or launches operated by the tourism department, namely M.V. Chitralekha and M.V. Madhukar. Apart from viewing the wildlife from boat safaris, visitors also visit the Bhagatpur Crocodile Project, a crocodile breeding farm, Sagar Island, Jambudweep, Sudhanyakali watchtower, Buriidabri Tiger Project, Netidhopani Watchtower, Haliday Island, Kanak, and Sajankhali Bird Sanctuary.
Forest lodge and forest rest-houses are available for accommodation at Sajnekhali, Bakkhali and Piyali. The cruise launches MV Chitralekha and MV Sarbajaya also have lodging facilities.
By Air: Sundarban National Park is located 140 KM far from Kolkata Airport (Also known as Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Airport and Dum Dum Airport)
By Rail: The nearest Railway station of Sundarban National Park is Canning Railway station which is located 29 KM far from the Gate way of Sundarban (i.e. Godhkhali)
By Road: Sundarban National Park is well connected with Kolkata - Basant High way.
Godkhali Port is located just opposite of Gosaba Island and Gosaba is the last inhabited islands towards Sajnekhali Wild life sanctuary and Sundarban Tiger project area of Sundarban reserve forest. The shortest route distance to Godkhali port from Kolkata is 82 km and 95 km from Kolkata airport (Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport).
Koikhali is nearer to the Haliday wildlife sanctuary and Tourists attractions like Bonnie camp, Kalas Island and beach, Haliday Island etc. of Sundarban reserve forest. Koikhali is 83 and 92 km away from Kolkata and Kolkata airport respectively.
Namkhana is 117 km away from Kolkata and 123 km away from Kolkata Airport. Namkhana is also connected with railway from Kolkata and distance is 109 km. This place is closer to Bhagabatpur crocodile project and Lothian wildlife sanctuary of Sundarban.
Railway distance from Kolkata to Canning is 45 km and 29 km away from Godkhali Port. Public transportations are available between Canning and Godkhali port.
So, this is in short about the Sundarbans National Park. It is a park with a difference.