I am Adrija Banerjee.
I am 24.
I have roamed almost the whole of the west, middle, and south India and have also crossed the borders till Singapore and Malaysia. But having stayed in Kolkata for about 24 years, I feel ashamed to admit that February 2021 was the first time that I actually went to Sundarbans which is just 130 km away.
When you are in Kolkata and looking for a quick escape from the cacophony of city life, and want to dive into the lap of nature, Sundarbans is what you are searching for. It is the world’s largest Mangrove forest and you are in this launch experiencing a 360-degree panoramic view of heavenly beauty with clear sky on top with almost every constellation vividly visible to the naked eye; clear salty river water in the bottom with loads of marine creatures and 47 jellyfish that I could count; with lush green forest islands on one side and village islands on the other. Here’s a detailed itinerary that will help you plan your Sundarbans tour.
Travel Tip: If you are taking old people make sure they are fit enough to climb up and down the launch to the jetty. Because some of them were not having proper staircases.
If you are a small group, then it’s advisable to take the assistance of a travel agent. They organize the entire trip and all you need to do is enjoy the moment. There are hundreds of such companies, but I was recommended India Beacons Sojourn by one of my friends who had visited just before me to Sundarbans. Later I talked with some other friends who have been there via other agents and found out that India Beacons offered us some special services which others didn’t.
For example, on the very first day, we were transferred to a boat from the launch for a little boat safari amidst the thinner creeks, deeper into the forest and it was a surreal experience to have been closer to the same river where a few hours back we had seen two crocodiles. By the way, there was an extra paddle and I made use of this golden opportunity and rowed this actual boat carrying 10 freaking full-size human beings. Also since the land also gets closer when you are in a boat, there is always this thrill of getting the slightest view of the tiger. Usually, it’s not easy to catch sight of them because the mangrove roots make it difficult for tigers to come close to the shores. They usually reside in the denser regions. And sometimes lucky ones catch them swimming from one island to another. Talking about special features I was also allowed to ride the launch, I mean literally steering the wheel of the real launch. It was so much fun and just like that Captain Adrija was born out of me. HAHA!
Okay now see, there were actually three types of packages, which I am guessing still exists the same way- 1 day, 1 night 2 days, 2 nights 3 days. We chose the last one, for 6000 bucks (per person) (inclusive of taxes). From Bhawanipur, the Volvo bus takes to Godkhali. Some people hopped in from Science City too. From Godkhali we switched to launch. Our breakfast was distributed on the bus and lunch was served in the launch with the whistles from the whistling birds as background music, and even evening snacks. The Sundarban itinerary after that was somewhat like this:
The entire time we were at the launch, our guide kept us engaged with interesting stories and the history of Sundarbans. He showed us some temples which were found in intervals in the islands or khalis. The difficulty to hunt in mangrove forests is one of the reasons why the royal Bengal tigers are man-eaters. The men who need to scavenge crabs, honey, etc from the jungle, believe in BanBibi who allegedly protects them in the jungle from wild beasts. That’s what the temples are for. We reached our destined island and were welcomed with a home-like but delicious dinner. We had a long hectic day so we dozed off.
The group of 25 ( 3 independent families ) were to visit two islands that had watchtowers. These are situated beside sources of sweet water because animals prefer that over the salty waters all around, hence maximum chances of seeing them. We had our breakfast and lunch at the launch. Meanwhile, a crocodile and a few monkeys, and wild cats were kind enough to let us have a glimpse of them. We reached the towers one by one and luck favored us only till deer and monkey, the tiger was like a far-fetched dream. But the experience was amazing whatsoever and after coming back in the evening, all we longed for was a little refreshment and somehow the management read our minds, and arranged for a play performed by the local villagers of the island, followed by a bonfire, we sat round fire and laughed and sang and started feeling like a huge joint family.
We were already feeling a little hollow since it was the last day and took a stroll within the village, talked with the people there, fell in love with the then-unknown-now-known colorful birds. Then with the time left to us, we visited a sanctuary where we saw two wounded tigers kept in a cage, going through treatment. That almost made our day even though they were not really in their real forms. But yeah, the thrill was missing, which was later compensated when a wild cat almost made us believe that it’s a tiger.
So all in all the trip was super relaxing with so much fresh air to breathe in and the smile and warmth of the people there, even after dealing with so many survival problems was really encouraging, and with a lot of positive vibes, we came back into our normal lives. The extra miles run by our management also won our hearts and last but not least, the memories captured with both the original and the newly formed family, are priceless.
My motto: Eat, Make life happening and Repeat. I believe the only way I can pay back to the world that teaches me so much through its beauty and its people, is by penning down experiences gathered and paths trodden
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