Sunderbans Trip Report
by Sumit Sen
January 2006

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Sunderbans Section   Trip List of Birds

© Sumit K Sen 2006


I visited the Sunderbans for a few days in late January with friends and to many of us it was a regular pilgrimage of sorts to Nature's shrine. The Sunderbans is the largest delta and the largest mangrove forest in the world. Huge, magnificent and foreboding, the allure of the endless stretches of water and mangroves is magnetic. 

Much has been written about the Sunderbans and Amitav Ghosh's beautifully descriptive "The Hungry Tide" has enticed many a visitor to this magical place. For those who want to know more, a quick trip down Birds of Kolkata pages may be rewarding. In this presentation, I have chosen to present "The Sunderbans" visually, through images. 

The Start

© Sumit K Sen 2006
Jetty at Sonakhali

Most trips to the Indian Sunderbans begin at the Sonakhali jetty.  Sonakhali (on the River Hogol) is 90 kms from Kolkata ( 21/2 hour drive) and is the start of the chain of waterways that are a feature of the land of a hundred islands. Opposite Sonakhali is the town of Basanti. From Sonakhali, a slow and comfortable Motor Launch carries you down the Durgaduani Channel past densely inhabited islands ~ former forests tamed by man with the blessings of "Bonobibi", the resident deity. Durgaduani connects Sonakhali to Gosaba and continues to meet the River Gumdi - the start of the 'Land of the tigers'.

© Sumit K Sen 2006
A bend on the Durgaduani channel

In tide country birders are never far from their binoculars and photographers from their cameras ~ even on a family holiday! The 4,000 sq. km of mangrove forests in the Indian Sunderbans is host to eight of the twelve species of kingfishers found in India. The Pied was the first of the six species we saw on this trip.
The stunning Collared Kingfisher is a mangrove resident, and rare in India. Widespread over the entire area in summer, in winter the larger and more aggressive Black-capped Kingfisher invades the area in great numbers pushing out the Collared to the forest fringes. This one seemed a trifle out of its depth to be hunting on the Durgaduani.  

© Sumit K Sen 2006  © Sumit K Sen 2006
Pied Kingfisher                                              Collared Kingfisher 

The battered hoarding at the junction of  the Durgaduani and the mighty River Gumdi welcomes you to "Tiger Land". © Sumit K Sen 2006






The 'Sunderban Tiger Reserve' starts on the opposite bank of the Gumdi and stretches south till land meets the Bay of Bengal. We have now entered wild Nature's domain. 

© Sumit K Sen 2006Here both land and the water are controlled by 'Dakshin Roy', the Tiger God and enemy of Bonobibi, the protector. You step on Dakshin Roy's territory at your own peril!



Dakshin Roy

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