Sundarbans : A photo story

When Holidays attack, Royal Bengal Tigers save you! 😀

When I went to Tibet for visiting Kailash – Mansarovar (Click here to read the full series ) a few months ago, while sitting by the shore of the lake casually mulling over life, I dreamt of a more fulfilling life, closer to the nature, away from the monotonous job I had. Finding a way of sustenance, while learning a lot more than what I was at that point of time, was on my mind.

I had no idea that (most) of that would become a reality in such a short while. 🙂

Fast forward to this day, I am happy to report that I have a new assignment with promises of learning way more and most importantly, some spare time for my family and self before I join my new organization.

Thus the word of the recent times, for me, has been “Why not!” 🙂

So in place of besides wondering why/how of the things, I am now a little more keen to explore the other side of the argument. Maybe I am a bit more looking forward to the unseen and perhaps more open (may I consider the word daring? ) to newer experiences as life takes me through.

Sundarbans was one such “why not!“. Well, if you are hoping to hear that I saw a tiger, you would be disappointed, but I was the spectator to the dark deep mangrove forests and creeks that lure you into them , the local life in these part of the planet and witness to some spectacular sunsets.

Without much ado, lets dive into some photographs from my recent visit:

The Sundarbans / Sundorbon is the largest river delta area in the world that spans over 10000 sqare KMs in India with some part in Bangladesh. The delta is formed in the confluence between Ganges/Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers with the Bay of Bengal.

The area is famous for its natural wealth of different types forest reserves such as wood, honey and a rich reserve of fishes that are the means to an end for many people in these area.

It is also the home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, crocodiles, sharks, several types of snakes, spotted deer, wild cats, several types of birds , river otters and other wildlife.

Nature has influenced the lives of the individuals out here. The locals of the Sundarbans, forced to venture into the jungles for wood (kathuria), as honey collector (Moulis) , or for fishing (machmaar) revere the Royal Bengal Tiger (Dakshinray) as one of the deities of the forests along with Bonbibi (Protector of the forest) and Gazi Saheb.

The ritual has it that till date, the locals worship the designated place of the Binbibi (Bonbibir Than) with what they can offer as gifts for the deities, sarees, warm cloths during winter, even jewelry before they enter into the forest for work. The danger of the forest brings people from both religions together. The priest from one religion reads a story ( পাঁচালী  / panchali) written in a Bangali language that reads from right to left.

Ah, life through a different lens 🙂

We took a local train to a place called Canning in South 24 Parganas, West Bengal. From there we had a Auto ride till a place called Gadkhali, from where most of the tourist ferry services start. Our ferry, called MB Radhakanta (রাধাকান্ত) was newly made. I later learnt that the young lad who was ever so busy cooking , navigating as well as maneuvering the boat was also the person who practically blue printed, crafted the boat.

As he was chatting with me, I was informed that as a way of the continuous efforts by the authorities to save the wildlife without affecting the revenue earned from the tourism, the tourist boats are issued permit till outside the buffer areas.

The tiger population stands restricted in the the specific restricted areas of core area.

If you are a tourist, you can either book a package with one of the numerous travel operators providing those from just outside the Canning Railway station. The packages include food and lodging in hotels / boats itself and all transport to from Canning / Kolkata. Different companies provide packages suiting to all pockets, from no – frills budgeted ones to quite posh.

The existing tours are suited for a family outing but for the more serious travelers/photography enthusiasts, it is recommended that you do your research to take some more time to explore these areas and get a better experience of travelling.

But there are two sides of a coin. One one hand, I saw locals, such as this gentleman once restricted to limited choices for livelihood now having access to better, safer options of earning to live a dignified life, on the other hand the ruthless destruction of the once fabled mangrove forests, over tourism and careless pollution of both the environment and most alarmingly, the local culture made me sad.

It is my belief, that strong steps to preserve the resources as well as the culture of these lands, the forests, the locals and our pride the Royal Bengal Tiger is the need of the moment.

My travel to this part of my state had come to an end for this time, but there was, as always a lot many things, waiting to be discovered by the eager traveler. And there is always a next time.

But before I leave you for this time, let me show you a different side of the jungle, the one that has villages with rice paddies and blue skies to contrast.

This was the picture from our place of stay I took right before coming back. There is always a next time and brighter days. 🙂

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