The Sundarbans (Bengali: সুন্দরবন, Shundôrbôn) is a natural region comprising southern Bangladesh and a small part in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. The Sundarbans covers approximately 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 sq mi) most of which is in Bangladesh with the remainder in India. The Sundarbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sundarbans South, East and West are three protected forests in Bangladesh. This region is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. 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.
The Sundarbans are the largest littoral mangrove belt in the world, stretching 80km (50mi) into the Bangladeshi hinterland from the coast. The forests aren’t just mangrove swamps though, they include some of the last remaining stands of the mighty jungles which once covered the Gangetic plain. The Sundarbans cover an area of 38,500 sq km, of which about one-third is covered in water. Since 1966 the Sundarbans have been a wildlife sanctuary, and it is estimated that there are now 400 Royal Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area.
The park is also home to sea gypsy fishing families who catch fish using trained otters. To see this pristine environment, you need to get a permit from the Divisional Forest Office in Khulna. With permit in hand, it’s possible to hire a boat from Mongla or Dhangmari to get you to Hiron Point. From Hiron Point you will have to hire a guide to take you into the park.
Sundarbans is home to many different species of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and fishes. Over 120 species of fish and over 260 species of birds have been recorded in the Sundarbans. The Gangetic River Dolphin (Platanista gangeticus) is common in the rivers. No less than 50 species of reptiles and eight species of amphibians are known to occur. The Sundarbans now support the only population of the Estuarine, or Salt-Water Crocodile (Crocodylus parasus) in Bangladesh, and that population is estimated at less than two hundred individuals.
Here land and water meet in many novel fashions, Wildlife presents many a spectacle. No wonder, you may come across a Royal Bengal Tiger swimming across the streams or the crocodiles basking on the river banks. With the approach of the evening herds of deer make for the darking glades where boisterous monkeys shower Keora leaves from above for sumptuous meal for the former. For the botanist, the lover of nature, the poet and the painter this land provides a variety of wonder for which they all crave.
It’s beauty lies in its unique natural surrounding. Thousands of meandering streams, creeks, rivers and estuaries have enhanced its charm. Sundarbans meaning beautiful forest is the natural habitat of the world famous Royal Bengal Tiger, spotted deer, crocodiles, jungle fowl, wild boar, lizards, theses monkey and an innumerable variety of beautiful birds. Migratory flock of Siberian ducks flying over thousands of sail boats loaded with timber, golpatta (round-leaf), fuel wood, honey, shell and fish further add to the serene natural beauty of the Sundarbans.
This is indeed a land for the sportsmen, the anglers and the photographers with its abundance of game, big and small, crocodile, wild boar, deer, pythons, wild-birds and above all the Royal Bengal Tiger, cunning, ruthless and yet majestic and graceful, For the less adventurously inclined, there are ducks and snipes, herons and coots, yellow-lags and sandpipers. It is also the land for the ordinary holiday makers who desire to rest or wander around at will to refresh their mind and feast their eyes with the rich treasure that nature has so fondly bestowed.
AREA: Nearly 2400 sq. miles or 6000 sq. km.
FOREST LIMITS: North-Bagerhat, Khulna and Sathkira districts : South-Bay of Bengal; East-Baleswar (or Haringhata) river, Perojpur, Barisal district, and West-Raimangal and Hariabhanga rivers which partially form Bangladesh boundary with West Bengal in India.
MAIN ATTRACTIONS: Wildlife photography including photography of the famous Royal Bengal Tiger, wildlife viewing, boating inside the forest will call recordings, nature study, meeting fishermen, wood-cutters and honey-collectors, peace and tranquility in the wilderness, seeing the world’s largest mangrove forest and the riverine beauty.
FAMOUS SPOTS: Hiron Point (Nilkamal) for tiger, deer, monkey, crocodiles, birds and natural beauty. Katka for deer, tiger, crocodiles, varieties of birds and monkey, morning and evening symphony of wild fowls. Vast expanse of grassy meadows running from Katka to Kachikhali (Tiger Point) provide opportunities for wild tracking.
Tin Kona Island for tiger and deer.
Dublar Char (Island) for fishermen. It is a beautiful island where herds of spotted deer are often seen to graze.
Means of Communication: Water transport is the only means of communication for visiting the Sundarbans from Khulna or Mongla Port. Private motor launch, speed boats, country boats as well as mechanised vessel of Mongla Port Authority might be hired for the purpose. From Dhaka visitors may travel by air, road or rocket steamer to Khulna – the gateway to the Sundarbans. Most pleasant journey from Dhaka to Khulna is by Paddle Steamer, Rocket presenting a picturesque panorama of rural Bangladesh. Day and night-long coach services by road are also available. The quickest mode is by air from Dhaka to Jessore and then to Khulna by road.
Journey time: It varies depending on tides against or in favour in the river. Usually it takes 6 to 10 hours journey by motor vessel from Mongla to Hiron Point or Katka.
Accommodation Inside the forest
Hiron Point : Comfortable three-storied Rest-House of the Mongla Port Authority. Prior booking is to be made.
Katka : Forest Department Rest-House located here. Prior booking essential.
Journey by Rocket Steamer to Mongla and Khulna
Minimum Journey time is 22 Hours for Mongla and 24 Hours for Khulna from Dhaka.
Entry Permission: Prior permission must be obtained through written application from the Divisional Forest Office, Circuit House Road, Khulna (Phone 20665, 211731) to visit the Sundarbans. Required entrance fees for visitors, vessel or boat payable at the relevant forest station/range office.
Fee for Commercial Photography
Movie Tk. 5,000.00 per role exposed
Video Tk. 4,000.00 per Cassette
Still Tk. 1,000.00 per role exposed
Guided Tours: Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation & other tour operators offers all-inclusive guided package fours from Dhaka to Sundarbans and return during the tourist season (October to March).
Climate: Climate in the Sundarbans is moderate. Air is humid. Full monsoon is from June to September. The annual rainfall average between 65″ and 70″. During ebb-tide the forest becomes bare by 6-7 feet and at high tide (30 miles and hour) the entire territory of the forest floats on water.
Life in Forest: Only means of transportation inside the forest is boat. There is no road, no trail of a path anywhere. The wood-cutters make temporary dwellings at the edge of the forest at a height of 8-10 feet for fear of wild animals others live on boats. In the chandpai region it is fascinating to see the nomadic fishermen (living with families on boats) catching fish with the help of trained offers. Exciting activities take place in Dublar Char in the forest where fishermen from Chittagong gather for four months (mid Oct. to mid Feb.) to catch and dry fish. But the most daring and exciting of all activities is presented by the honey-collectors who work in groups for just two months (April-May) and it is interesting to see how they locate a hive and then collect honey.
Flora and Fauna: The Sundarbans is endowed by nature with rich flora and fauna. It is a wonderful place to see or to shoot a Royal Bengal Tiger with Camera if one has the time to wait in the forest. There are a good number of tigers in the Sundarbans. Lovely spotted deer are easy to find. Besides there are a wide variety of wildlife for which the Sundarbans is so famous
Visit to the Forest
Permission from the Division Forest Officer, Khulna is required to visit to the forest. Cholera vaccine is to be taken well in advance. Anti-malarial, anti-diarrhoeal, insectrepellent cream, drinking water, green coconuts, medical kit, light tropical dress, thick rubber soled boots etc. are to be carried with the tourist. It will be wise to take the help of an experienced guide to make the journey fruitful.
Tourist season & Shooting: Best time to visit the Sundarbans is from November to March. Exciting honey collection season is during April-May. Hunting is prohibited by law in the country for the preservation of wildlife. Certain species of birds, however, can be shot with prior permission of the Divisional Forest Officer, Khulna, (Phone : 20665 & 21173).
Visit to the Forest: Permission from the Division Forest Officer, Khulna is required to visit to the forest. Cholera vaccine is to be taken well in advance. Anti-malarial, anti-diarrhoeal, insectrepellent cream, drinking water, green coconuts, medical kit, light tropical dress, thick rubber soled boots etc. are to be carried with the tourist. It will be wise to take the help of an experienced guide to make the journey fruitful.