Tourist Destinations

Sunderbans National Park

The word "Sunderban" is derived from sundari and ban, which, when combined, means "the forests of sundari"-an palpable reference to the large mangrove trees. The Sunderban Tiger Project was formed in 1974 and covers an area of 2585 sq. kms, of which the core area covers 1330 sq. kms and is a national forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Home to the largest concentration of wild tigers in the world, the park comprises a network of estuaries, tidal rivers, and creeks intersected by many channels, with flat, marshy islands covered with thick forests in between. The littoral forest at the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve is the only ecological habitat of the tiger of its kind not only in India, but also worldwide except in Bangladesh.

The wildlife includes the world famous Royal Bengal Tiger, a major attraction in the tiger reserve. Some of the other attractions include chital, crocodile, monkeys, estuarine and marine turtle, dolphins and various kinds of birds. The Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project besides being a hatchery and a sanctuary is the home to the biggest estuarine crocodiles.

The Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary is situated on the confluence of Matla and Gumdi within the buffer zone that extends over an area of 885 sq km. Here one can have a look at the wide variety of birds, the most popular among them being the spotted billed pelican, cotton teal, herring gull, Caspian tern, grey heron, large egret, night heron, open-billed stork, white ibis, common kingfisher, brahmini kite and paradise flycatcher. A rare winter migrant, Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus), can also be found here.

Among the birds of prey are osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Pallas's fish eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus), white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), grey-headed fishing eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), Oriental hobby (Falco severus), northern eagle owl (Bubo bubo) and brown fish owl (Ketupa zeylonensis).

The varieties of the forests that exist in Sunderban include mangrove scrub, littoral forest, saltwater mixed forest, brackish water mixed forest and swamp forest. The flora includes genwa, dhundal, passur, garjan and kankra. The goran trees, whose average height varies between 1.8 metres and 3.6 metres, cover almost the entire region.

The tigers form the major source of attraction in the reserve here. Besides the tiger, the reserve is home to diverse aquatic and reptile life forms including the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle, Green Turtle, Hawk's Bill Turtle, hard-shelled Batgur Terrapin, King cobra, Pythons, Chequered killback, Estuarine Crocodile, Monitor and lizards like the Salvator lizard to name a few. A number of Trans-Himalayan migratory birds can also be spotted at Sunderbans. Also one can have a look at the Gangetic dolphin, little porpoise, fishing cat, Indian fox, jungle cat, small Indian civet, common grey mongoose, spotted deer, wild pig, Indian flying fox, rhesus monkey and pangolin

The Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project besides being a hatchery and a sanctuary is the home to the biggest estuarine crocodiles. You can access this place through Namkhana.

The best time to visit the Sunderbans Sanctuary and its surrounding region is from September to March.



How to Reach Sunderbans National Park

By Air : Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Dum Dum Airport) located at Calcutta (112 Km) is the nearest airport which is connected to other Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore through regular Indian Airlines flights.

By Rail : Port Canning, situated at a distance of 48 Km, is the nearest railhead. The city is connected to Calcutta through trains which operate several times in a day. It is recommended that the tourists travel by road instead of trains as the rail journey is not all that smooth.


 By Road : Sunderbans National Park is accessible only through a network of riverine waterways. The best option is to travel by road to any of the nearby cities leading to these waterways and complete the journey from there. Some of the distances from nearby cities are Namkhana (105 Km), Raidighi (76 Km), Najat (92 Km) and Sonakhali (100 Km).