The Sundarbans is a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal. It spans from the Hooghly River in India’s state of West Bengal to the Baleswar river in Bangladesh. It comprises closed and open mangrove forests, agriculturally used land, mudflats, and barren land, and is intersected by multiple tidal streams and channels. Four protected areas in the Sundarbans are enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, viz Sundarbans National Park, Sundarbans West, Sundarbans South, and Sundarban East Wildlife Sanctuaries. The Sundarbans mangrove forest covers an area of about 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi), of which forests in Bangladesh’s Khulna Divisions extend over 6,017 km2 (2,323 sq mi) and in West Bengal, they extend over 4,260 km2 (1,640 sq mi) across the South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas Districts. The most abundant tree species are sundri and gewa. The forests provide habitat to 453 faunal wildlife, including 290 bird, 120 fish, 42 mammals, 35 reptile and eight amphibian species.
Despite a total ban on all killing or capture of wildlife other than fish and some invertebrates, it appears that there is a consistent pattern of depleted biodiversity or loss of species in the 20th century and that the ecological quality of the forest is declining. The Directorate of Forest is responsible for the administration and management of Sundarban National Park in West Bengal. In Bangladesh, a Forest Circle was created in 1993 to preserve the forest, and Chief Conservators of Forests have been posted since. Despite preservation commitments from both Governments, the Sunderbans are under threat from both natural and human-made causes. In 2007, the landfall of Cyclone Sidr damaged around 40% of the Sundarbans. The forest is also suffering from increased salinity due to rising sea levels and reduced freshwater supply. Again in May 2009, Cyclone Aila devastated Sundarban with massive casualties. At least 100,000 people were affected by this cyclone. The proposed coal-fired Rampal Power Station situated 14 km (8.7 mi) north of the Sundarbans at Rampal Upazila of Bagerhat District in Khulna Division, Bangladesh, is anticipated to further damage this unique mangrove forest according to a 2016 report by UNESCO.
Do-Banky Forest Riciever
This is the third point on the tour of Sundarban National Park. The grand Canopy Walk is what this Watch Tower is well-known for and visited for. Your trip to the Sundarban would be incomplete without this Canopy Walk. In fact, this Canopy Walk completes your trip to the Sundarban. It is more than half kilometer long walkway, at a height of 20 feet from the ground which is protected ed in grill and strong net in the form of a canopy to protect from the wildlife and therefore is safe. This Canopy Walk takes you half kilometer broad into the forest where you could be walking alongside deers, tigers, etc. It is a very thrilling experience that brings back tourists for repeat-walks. This Watch Tower overlooks a sweet water pond where spotted Deers, Tigers, and Brahmini Kites visit. This watchtower presents one with a unique experience of watching wildlife from its Canopy Walk. This canopy walk is about half a kilometer long and at a height of about 20 ft from the ground. There is also a sweet water pond and Chital deers, as well as Brahmini Kites, are very often sighted here apart from the tigers.
Netidhopani Tiger Reserve
This is another watchtower in the series of several watchtowers and is associated with the legend of Behula and Lakhindari. Legend has it that Behula while accompanying her dead husband on his last journey on the boat, was passing the bank of what is now called Netidhopani, saw an interesting thing. A woman was washing clothes and a child was continually disturbing her. Annoyed, she sprinkled some water on the boy. The boy became lifeless.
The woman finished her laundry and then again sprinkled some water on the boy, chanting some mantras, to bring him back to life. Behula decided in a flash that this was the person who could bring her husband back to life. She rowed the boat to the bank and asked the lady (Netidhopani) to teach her the verses. This lady was instrumental in bringing back. In fact, Behula reached heaven from this Ghat. Today this watchtower offers one a view of the ruins of a 400-year-old Shiva Temple. It is also believed that there is a road on the extreme right of the forest which was built by King Pratapaditya to guard the coastal area. It is now covered with earth. There is also a sweet water pond. This watchtower has a capacity to host 20 persons at a time.
Jharkhali Forest Receiver
The Sundarban Wild Animals Park, Jharkhali (South 24 Parganas, West Bengal) will provide rewarding experience to the visitors about the wildlife of this region. The display, care and awareness will be of such level to promote conservation of wildlife. The Sundarban Animals Park will endeavor to breed the endangered species for display, exchange and rehabilitation in the wild. This animal park will be a showcaseof rich biodiversity of sundarban mangrove in the state of West Bengal. As suchthe flora and fauna exist in their natural pristine glory, unhindered and unaffected.
Sundarban Village Gosaba
The village of Gosaba lies at the extreme ends of the Bengal peninsula, curving away from the port of Haldia, with the vast delta of the Sunderbans serving as its hinterland. Migratory birds flock at will, with high tides bringing the village into an island like isolation. Getting there is a pain, with a 100km ride from Calcutta down to the dirt infested watering hole of Canning and a right turn towards Godhakali. It’s the only way to get to Gosaba.
The village itself starts off with a vibrant market, selling little yellow chicks at Rs 10, conch shells at Rs 500, Bengali sweets at Rs 20 a pop and wedding turbans of the pointy variety. There is even a Chinese restaurant, at this extreme end. Spices, vibrant flowers and kids frolicking between darkened bylanes – its a sweet harken back to age old times. The only way to explore the village is on a rickshaw, an extremely bumpy ride of 45 minutes, which leaves you ecstatic and introspective. With ponds opposite each house, temples and mosques abiding quietly, vast fields of wheat and rice and an avid collection of sheep, goats, dogs and parrots, the place is idyllic, with a few hippies and little tourist exposure.
Folk Dance Local
This landscape of the Sundarban also inspires the folk traditions of this land. Bonbibir Pala is synonymous with this land.
Bonbibi-r Palagaan is a dramatic performance tradition which is connected with the worship of Goddess Bonbibi. This ritual is exclusively practised in the Sundarban in the lower delta region West Bengal. The word Pala means a long narrative verse and song in Bengali. Previously, it was only sung or recited as a eulogy to the deity to get her blessings. Later, it evolved as an enactment form where the various excerpts of the Sundarbans are acted out. It is also considered to be an emblem of the syncretistic nature of the region.