Home to around 250 tigers, the Sundarban national park is located in the Sundarbans delta in the Bangladesh division of Barisall. Well known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sunderbans comprises of a vast area covering 4264 square km in India alone. The Indian Sunderbans forms the largest tiger reserve and national park in India. The aqua fauna of Sunderbans include a variety of fishes, red fiddler crabs and hermit crabs. There are crocodiles, which can be often seen along the mud banks. The national park is also noted for its conservation of the Ridley Sea Turtle. The present Sundarbans National Park was declared as the core area of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in 1973 and a wildlife sanctuary in 1977. On May 4, 1984 it was declared a national park. The park area is divided into two ranges, overseen by range forest officers. Each range is further sub-divided into beats.
The endangered species which can be found within the Sundarbans include Royal Bengal Tiger, Saltwater Crocodile, River Terrapin, Olive Ridley Turtle, Gangetic Dolphin, ground turtle, Hawks Bills Turtle and mangrove horseshoe crab. The Royal Bengal Tigers who have developed a unique characteristic of swimming in the saline waters, and are famous for their man-eating tendencies. Tigers can be seen on the river banks sunbathing between November and February. There is an incredible variety of reptiles also found in Sundarbans, which includes king cobra, rock python and water monitor. The endangered river Terrapin, Batagur baska is found on the Mechua Beach, while the Barking Deer is found only in Holiday Island in Sunderbans.
Permits: Visitors can enter the park anytime between 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. A boat trip through Sunderbans outside the sanctuary requires no prior permission. Permits are necessary to visit the estuarine delta area, and can be obtained from the office of the Field Director, Port Canning, 24 Parganas. For foreigners, permits are available at the Forest Department in the Writer’s Building, Kolkata.
When to visit: Best to time to visit is from December to February.
Accommodation: Lodging is available at Sunderban Tiger Camp on Dayapur Island and at Sunderbans Jungle Camp on Bali Island run by Help Tourism Group.
How to reach:
Air: The Park is 140 km far from Kolkata Airport.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Canning Railway station.
Road: The Park is well connected through Kolkata – Basanti highway.