Sundarban National Park
The vast swampy delta of the two great Indian rivers, the Brahmaputra and the Ganga, extends over a vast area. Mangrove forests, swamps and forested islands are interwoven with a network of small rivers and rivulets. The Sundarbans National Park, covering about 1330.10 sq. km., forms the core of this area. This mostly estuarine mangrove forest is the habitat of nearly 200 Royal Bengal tigers. Bangladesh lies to the east of the Park and it is estimated that the combined population of tigers in the region could well be about 400 in number.
Adapting itself to the saline and watery environment, the tigers at the Park are good swimmers and practically amphibious! Traversing the mangroves by motor launch is quite an experience, for the area is completely unspoilt and very different from the more conventional wildlife park.
- Longitude - 30° 24' - 30° 28' N
- Latitude - 77° 40' - 77° 44' E
- Altitudinal Range - 0-10 m above sea level
- Average Rainfall - 175 cm
- Temperature - Min. 2° C, Max. 38° C
- Core Area - 1,330 Sq. Km
- Buffer Area - 1,255 Sq. Km
- Total Area - 2,585 Sq. Km
- 1979 - 205
- 1984 - 264
- 1989 - 269
- 1993 - 251
- 1995 - 242
On a wild trail !!
The tiger reserve in Sunderban is a major tourist attraction. The number of tigers in this reserve is among the highest in the country. According to a census conducted in the 1980, the population of tiger here was close to 400. Besides the tiger, other forms of wildlife also inhabit these mangrove forests. 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 are some of the residents here.
The bird sanctuary at Sajnekhali contains a wide variety of birds. The most noteworthy among them are 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. The area is also important for waders, including the Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus), a rare winter migrant.
The Sunderban National Park also has a wide variety of flora. There is mangrove scrub, littoral forest, salt water mixed forest, brackish water mixed forest and swamp forest. The distribution of wildlife and vegetation is even throughout the Sunderban area.
Best time to visit:
Due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, Sunderban experiences very high humidity. Rainfall is quite heavy during monsoon, which last from mid-June to mid-September. After the monsoons, fair weather prevails until mid-March.
The best season to visit the Sunderban is between December and February.
By air: West Bengal is very well connected with the national and international air network. The international (Netaji Subhash International Airport) and domestic airports of Calcutta are at Dumdum, located 15 km from the city center. The Bagdogra airport at Siliguri connects the state with places in and around the state. Three more airports, namely, Balurghat, Coochbehar and Malda also operate scheduled domestic flights.
By rail: West Bengal runs a major railway network that connects the rest of the country. Kharagpur railway station has the longest railway platform in India. Moreover, the Howrah railway station is one of the most accessed railway heads in India. New Jalpaiguri railhead connects the rest of the country to Darjeeling by toy trains.
By road: West Bengal is also well connected by means of national as well as state highways with major places of interest in and around the state. The state transport corporation runs regular buses connecting these places. There are also private tour operators that provide luxury coaches to access the nearby places of importance.
Forest lodges and forest rest houses are available for accommodation at Sajnekhali.