Sundarbans National Park
The Sundarbans National Park is a huge mangrove forest on the coast of the Ganges delta by the Bay of Bengal which is about 110km from Kolkata. “Sundar ban” means “beautiful forest” in Bengali. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous as a sanctuary of the Bengal tiger. It spans a vast area covering 4264 sq. km in India alone. Sundarbans have also been enlisted amongst the finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
In 1973 , the Sundarbans National Park sits within the larger Sundarban Tiger Reserve was created. All commercial and tourist activities are banned from the park’s core area. In addition to tigers, the park is full of reptiles, birds, and other animals such as monkeys, wild boar, and deer.
The Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project in the Sundarban has, of late, emerged as an important tourist destination of the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans has three wildlife sanctuaries – Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary and other two are located at Lothian Island and Haliday Island.
Sundarbans Permits and Fees
Foreigners need a permit to enter the national park and must provide their passport as identification.
The park entry fee is 60 rupees for Indians and 200 rupees for foreigners. There’s also a 400 rupee boat entry fee (per day). It’s compulsory to have one guide per boat, costing 400 rupees for Indians and 700 rupees for foreigners.
Best time to visit
- November to February: The weather is cool and dry (Must care warm clothes)
- March until June: Summer, very hot and humid
- July to September: The monsoon season, is wet and windy
What You Can Expect to See:
Note some people are disappointed by the Sundarbans, as most of them have high expectations to spot a Bengal Royal Tiger. Spotting wildlife is mostly hampered by the fact that you can’t explore the national park on foot and there are no jeep safari. In addition, boats cannot touch down anywhere along the river banks in the national park, apart from designated watchtowers, and must exit the park boundaries by 6 p.m.
Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali, and Dobanki are the most popular watchtowers sue to their proximity.
- Sajnekhali: As mentioned above, this is the main watchtower complex. It’s a favorite of birdwatchers.
- Sudhanyakhali: This watchtower is where most of the tigers are sighted. There’s also a pond frequented by families of spotted deer.
- Do Banki: This watchtower is renowned for having a 20 foot high enclosed canopy walk that extends for around 150 meters.
- Burir Dabri: This remote watchtower is located on Raimangal river adjoining Bangladesh, around five hours from Sajnekhali. It’s notably picturesque and has a canopy walk over the mangroves that leads to a viewpoint with a panorama of Bangladesh. There’s also a mud walk.
- Netidhopani:The ruins of a 400 year old temple can be found at this watchtower. Visitor numbers are limited and special permits are required.
- Bonnie Camp: The highest watchtower in the Sundarbans, it’s 50 feet tall. This scenic watchtower is located close to the Bay of Bengal and takes around six hours to reach from Sajnekhali. There’s a tourist rest house where you can stay overnight.
- Jhingekhali: This watchtower is located on the eastern most fringe of the Sundarbans, and it’s often overlooked for its remoteness. It’s quiet there, which boosts the chances of seeing a tiger. There are also many different kinds of birds.