About Sunderbans National Park
name Sunderbans is perhaps derived from the term meaning 'the forest of
sundari' (Heritiera fomes), a reference to the large mangrove tree that
provides valuable fuel. Along the coast, the southern part of the forest
passes into a mangrove swamp, which has numerous wild animals and
crocodile-infested estuaries. It is one of the last preserves of the Royal
Bengal tiger and the site of a tiger conservation project.
Situated south of Calcutta, Sunderbans is one of the most unique ecosystems
in this part of the world and is dominated by mangrove forests. Situated at
the mouth of the Ganges, Sunderbans spreads over 54 islands and two
countries (West Bengal in India and Bangladesh) and is a part of the world's
largest delta region. A UNESCO world heritage site, Sunderbans is home to
the largest number of wild tigers in the world.
Project Tiger was implemented here in 1973 and later the Sunderbans Tiger
Reserve was demarcated over an area of 2,585-sq km. The core area of 1,330
sq km has been declared a national park and a world heritage site. The
reserve has a tiger population of 287(1984 census). The only mangrove
species, the tiger here has adapted well to its habitat. The region has a
tropical climate with hot summers and cold winters. Maximum and minimum
temperatures during the summer are 42°C and 37°C respectively. In
winters, the maximum and minimum temperatures are 29°C and 9.2°C
Wildlife Attractions in Sunderbans National Park
Sunderbans is the largest estuarine delta in the world and the biggest
colony of the Royal Bengal Tiger. These evergreen mangrove forests pulsate
with myriad forms of life, which hide during high tide and the ebbing tide
reveals them on the glistening mud flats. The land is split by numerous
rivers and water channels all emptying into the Bay of Bengal. It is
believed that Bonbibi, the goddess of the forest, protects the woodcutters,
honey-collectors and fishermen on their hazardous missions through the
forest. For, as the local saying goes, `here the tiger is always watching
The Sunderbans provide important habitat for a variety of reptiles
including river terrapin (Batagur baska E), Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys
olivacea E), estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus E), monitor lizard
(Varanus flavescens), water monitor (Varanus salvator) and Indian python
(Python molurus V). The only species of turtle known to nest in the
Sunderbans is the Olive Ridley but hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) has
also been caught in fishermen's nets. The creeks are spawning grounds for
some 90 species of fish, 48 species of crabs and a large variety of
The Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project
The Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project is a crocodile-breeding farm. Tours are
organized by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC). This
place is accessible through Namkhana. The West Bengal Tourism Department
organizes conducted tours to the Sunderbans by their motor launches.
Bhagabatpur is a hatchery for the largest estuarine crocodile in the world.
It is the only place to have a hotel in this area. There is a Mangrove
Interpretation Centre here. There are watchtowers at Sajnekhali,
Sudhanyakhali, Netidhopan, Haldi and a number of other places. Birds of prey
include 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), Oriential hobby (Falco severus), northern eagle owl (Bubo bubo)
and brown fish owl (Ketupa zeylonensis).
Other Places of Interest
Other interesting places in the area include Netidhopan, which has the
ruins of a 400-year-old temple, Holiday Island is a retreat of the barking
deer and Kanak and the nesting place of Olive Ridley Turtles. Piyali is 72
km from Calcutta and is a gateway to the Sunderbans. It is being developed
as a tourist complex.
How to get there
Dum Dum is the nearest airport at Calcutta.
Calcutta is connected by daily Indian Airlines flights from Delhi (7:00,
17:00 & 20:00), Mumbai (6:10 & 18:15) and Chennai (10:30 &
17:00). Bangalore is connected to Calcutta through a Jet Airways flight
which operates everyday at 9:55.
The nearest railhead is at Port Canning, 48 km
away. The nearest town is Gosaba, 50 km away. Regular trains operate from
Calcutta to Canning The train option is better avoided, instead take the
road trip from Kolkata to Basanti or Sonakhali. Sunderbans is accessible
only by riverine waterways. From Calcutta there are suburban trains to
Canning and buses to Namkhana, Raidighi, Sonakhali and Najat from where
motor launch services are available for Sunderbans.
Means of road transport are available from
Calcutta for the places like Namkhana (105 km), Sonakhali (100 km), Raidighi
(76 km), Canning (64 km), and Najat (92 km), which are all near the
Sunderbans and have access to the riverine waterways leading to it. To reach
from Kolkata, take the state highway to Baruipur via Rajpur. From here a
district road leads to Basanti via Canning. A motorboat from here will take
you to Sunderbans.
Distances from Major Cities
Travel Tips/Important Information
Resorts in Sunderbans
- Foreign tourists have to get a permit for entry into the park from
West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation in Kolkata.
- Park charges Entry Fee : Rs. 15 (Indians) & Rs. 150 (foreigners),
Boat Fee : Rs. 100/boat/day plus Rs. 45 for 3 crew members, Camera : Rs.
300 (video) & still free, Guide : Rs. 200
- Park timings are 7 AM to 5 PM.
- Be careful with the drinking water and carry all the basic medicines
- Carry all the essentials including mosquito repellent cream, light
clothes, sun hat, thick rubber sole boots etc.
- Get prior information about the park and take an experienced local
- Prior permission is required, which can be obtained from the Forest
Officer at Khulna.
- The entry fees and other charges are to be paid at the relevant