I made a two day one night trip to Sundarban. Sundarban forest is the only mangrove tiger land of India. It is situated in the extreme south of West Bengal in the vicinity of Bay of Bengal. I departed from my home in Kolkata, India on 28th October. It was a good day with clear sky. I took the metro at 7 a.m. in the morning from Belgachia and reached Central station. I walked for 10 minutes and reached West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation office. I took tea and waited till the bus arrived.
I boarded the red bus. The bus is quite comfortable with well designed ergonomic seats. The bus departed from the stand at 8:40 a.m. We were given breakfast in the bus. Bread, cake, apple, boiled egg comprised our breakfast. We were given tea at a place called Ghatakpur where the bus halted for 10 minutes. We took water and relaxed and stretched ourselves. Then our journey started again till we reached Sonarkhali. As it was shallow water, a boat took us to our luxurious and big launch named M.V. CHITRAREKHA. It was a beautiful launch with all the facilities one needs to stay day and night. We were provided with VCD shows and we were given comfortable rooms to live. The name of one of our captain is Salim.
Our tour guide was Mr. Zaheer Rehaan, an English postgraduate who is working in this field for 1 year. He showed us the sites of the forest and told us a lot of things about Sudhanyakhali, Sajnekhali, and Dobanki. We went to Sonarkhali by foot. It was a 10 minute distance. Vans are also there taking a nominal Rs. 5 from visitors. In Sonarkhali, we reached the banks and took a boat which is propelled by steam engine. The boats are quite old and dilapidated. A large number of people are standing above and below the boat making the boat tilt from side to side. I had fear whether the boat might capsize but fortunately it did not!!
Tourists came from different parts of the country and the world. In India, tourists came from Mumbai, Delhi, Pune. Around the world, people came from Australia, Sweden, and France. People are communicating when you are going to talk to them but there is no such warmth in their behavior.
There are 3 types of staying facility inside M.V. Chitrarekha. They are cubicle, lower deck, and bedroll. Cubicle costs Rs. 2100, lower deck Rs. 2050, and bed roll Rs. 1800. I stayed in lower deck. Along with me 5 French people were there. They are water transport engineer and water construction engineer by profession. As I had the basic knowledge of French language from Alliance Francaise, I could communicate with them in English and French. They can understand English also.
The professions of the visitors include doctors, software engineers, water construction engineers, government employees of railways and police, office workers, etc.
I got lunch around 1:30 pm. It comprised fish curry, rice, dal, and sweets. We visited Sudhanyakhali, a spot to see the Sunderban forest around 5 p.m. The spot has a watch tower. From the watch tower, we could have a splendid view of the green environment. Then we visited Sajnekhali. It has a watch tower. In Sajnekhali, I saw monkeys, crocodiles, crabs, deer, crane. Then we returned to our launch. We took tea in the evening and some snacks which comprised fish cutlet, pakora. We watched a VCD of a hindi movie. We were showed West Bengal Tourism spot CD. It was comprehensive showing all the important spots in West Bengal.
From watch towers we saw the jungle. In Sudhanyakhali and Sajnekhali, the jungle was not so dense. Dobanki is quite interior than the former two. We saw deer in this spot. We experienced a calm and quite environment. The environment is pollution free and noise free. After living in a noisy environment and with the head phone job, my ears felt relief. While we were traveling Sudhanyakhali and Sajnekhali, we saw a launch M.V. Sarbajaya where a girls college in Siliguri took their girls for excursion to this place. We took dinner after watching the VCD around 9:30 p.m. We had mutton, fried rice, dal, and sweets.
On the morning of 29th, I woke up around 5 a.m., did some exercise, brushed my teeth, had tea, and prepared myself for our last Sunderban trip to Dobanki. We took tiffin consisting of luchi, potato curry, and sweets. In this spot, we saw deer. They are held in enclosures and give food and water. A bridge path lead to the terrace tower.
In Sudhanyakhali, Sajnekhali, and Dobanki, we could not see the tiger. The guide says they live in dense jungle. It can see you but you cannot see it. Every watch tower has sweet water pond adjoining it. It is expected the tigers and other animals will come to drink water and people will be able to see the animals and take photographs.