"SUNDERBANS- THE HOME OF THE ROYAL BENGAL TIGER" Gosaba by goutammitra

Gosaba Travel Guide: 25 reviews and 208 photos

Sunderban Revisited on 16.01.2012 Changed Picture!

The Typhoon Aila devastated Sunderban on May25'2009, after 3 years Sundarban is back again on it's track bubbling with activity. It has again become green, cultivation of agricultural land is back again, face of the people again shows smile, tourists are back, new hotels have come up at Sunderban. We went there on 16th January'12 to have close look at Sundarban Tiger Camp, as we are planning to have a company get together soon, where our CE is likely to attend, so the facilities has to be up to the mark. We also spent the day in checking with various other hotels and other facilities at Gosaba. During the course, as usual, I took many pictures of the new life at Sunderban! Please have a close look , read on!

After our first visit to Aila devasted Sunderban on 27th june, we again collected some more amount from our colleagues and friends ( about Rs.1,67,000) and set off for Sunderban again yesterday on 25th July'09 almost after a month of our first visit. The condition has not yet improved and people's life remains the same, still dependant on relief. With monsoon in full fury, the condition of life has deteriorated further and people are almost totally dependant on aid from outside. Relief or effort from the govt. agencies are inadequate to bring back the life of Sunderban into normalcy( no income, no tourist, no job at the moment). The deprived have become more aggressive as the fatigue and anger have set into their life. The tolerence limit has reduced, even for the NGOs and private people like us. The anger and outbrust meant for Govt. is now directed to anyone who is coming there with relief.Now they want that genuine rehabilitation from anyone who is going there to help as the govt is not there to listen any outbrust. They want schools to re-open, creation of job opportunities, houses to be rebuilt, water to be available, rice fields to be cleared of saline water, to grow again. No one wants to sit idle but to work and get some bread of their own. But where do they go searching for work and get money for the family? Where do they get fuel and water? Water is being supplied to them from main land in drums and fuel is in the form of Kerosene. In the name of house they have rebuilt the thachets and have covered roof with plastic sheets received from relief. One may think and decide not to go there with further relief but the relief has to continue to make them self sufficient again. That is real help to the distressed.

This time we carried with us Rice, Milk powder, Mosquito net,Mosquito Coils, Biscuits, potato, saree, tarpauline,Melamine Plates , Plastic Sheets, Hurricane lantren ( 144 pcs), Exercise books, Pens, Pencils ( for the children). We decided mothers with kids must get a Hurricane lamp and a Mosquito net besides other things.

Since, my Sunderban Travelogue is full and I do not want to delete those pictures at least for sometime. I shall be posting all the new pictures in " Off The Beaten Path" in tip form. You may rate them if you wish.

I shall be posting video and pictures on Sunday or soon possible. In case any of my VT friends wants to donate something then please write to me. I shall tell you how you can also help.

Save this largest Biosphere Reserve of world!!!



Sunderban is back to life again! Now there is no more begging of food and other household items! A good sign to see.
Life in Sunderban is very difficult as most of the people are very poor and live in mud house or thachets. Since, there is not much to earn living in a concrete house is distant dream. Disasters like Cyclone ( rampant here), Hurricane leaves them in tatters. The Cyclone Aila came on 25th May was @ 160kmph, left the City of Kolkata and Sunderban in tatters. Though only trees fell in the city of Kolkata as the houses are built with concrete but most of the mud houses and thachets were damaged extensively. The saline water from the rivers( see pictures in next tip) swelled and entered as 20/30 feet high wave in to the villages, just like Tsunami. It damaged the rice fields and their houses.

After 25th May'09 many people had to stay in the open for some time then govt and NGOs swung in to action for help. As help mostly Plastic sheets were given as tarpaulins were not too many available. Many inhabitants moved towards river embankment and built thachets/ mud houses there, covered them with plastic sheets( See pictures, these were taken from the boat we were travelling).

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Please visit Off the Beaten Path & travelogue for more pictures and text)

Why it took so many years for me to build the tips on Sunderban? Well, please ask Giampiero and Sophie of Virtual Tourist, who injected Adrenaline in to me by awarding me "Home Town Hero" award, now they want me to become "Weekend Warrior Hero". If you believe this please start building tips on the weekend destinations for the benefit of travellers.

Sunderban is only 3-4 hour from the polluted city of Kolkata...... just directly in to the lap of Mother Nature! If you have enjoyed the Travelogue, now please enjoy the tips. I promise to visit Sunderban again probably this year and add additional tips for the benefit of fellow travellers.

Those plan to visit Sunderbans please don’t go there with the wish to see the tiger. You will be highly disappointed. Please have a close look at the pictures of the forest it is very thick and Tigers do not come out of the forest due to noise of the diesel boats and human beings. However, Spotted deers, Wild Boar, Monkeys, rare Birds and Crocodiles are easily spotted. One is not allowed to visit the core area, unless equipped with special permission from govt. of India, which is given only to organizations like National Geography or Animal Planet channels. But don’t get disappointed there is enough to see for two to three days. The nature is so different here you get mesmerized here. Only means of transport is boat. Those who may desire to visit Sunderbans may get in touch with West Bengal Tourism, 3/2, B.B.D. Bag East, Kolkata – 700 001, PH- 91-33-22485168/5917/8271, Fax- 91-33-2248 8290. New Delhi office- 91-11-2373 2840. Since this is govt. organization their response may be slow. There are many private tour operators going to Sunderbans but not all of them are reliable. One reliable tour operator is “ Chalo Jai, S.B.Towers, 37, Shakespeare Sarani, Calcutta- 700 017. e-mail – chalojailetsgo@yahoo.com. Since tourism is still in infancy stage in Sunderbans one has to be prepared to do a little bit adventure. Keep yourself ready to sleep on the deck of the boat, use Indian toilet, and eat Indian food and so on. Please carry or arrange double the quantity of water you need during your stay and mosquito repellant is a must.

Our first Sunderban Visit in 2004.

Dear Friends this Christmas of 2004 we visited the famous Sunderbans- the home for the great Royal Bengal Tigers. This place is extending across the northern shore of the Bay of Bengal; the Sunderbans is the largest and most luxuriant estuarine forest in the world. This marshy mangrove jungle dominating the delta of the Ganga and Brahmaputra is the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. The area supports an unique ecosystem specially adapted to the high salinity in this region. Waterways are the easiest and only way to reach this area which shelters wide variety of fauna including wild boar, fishing cats, otters, civets, rhesus monkeys and spotted deer. The brackish water teem with nearly 120 varieties of fish, crab, Salvatore lizards, giant estuarine crocodiles and olive ridley turtles. This biosphere reserve is now a part of “ Project Tiger “, which was launched in 1972 to revive the country’s tiger population. Watch towers are located inside the Sunderban National Park at Sajnekhali, Sudhannyakhali, Haldi and Netidhopani. The other attractions here are the Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project, Kanak and Piyali.

As per Tiger Census Report of 2003, there are 133 Male Tigers, 83 Female Tigers and 33 cubs are living there. The total no is 249 as per Project Tiger officials. Since the terrain is very difficult to access, it also a Paradise for the Poachers from India and other international pirates. They come in high speed fishing Trawlers, park the Vessel in the Bay Of Bengal then poach the area in Speed Boats with sophisticated weapons and helped by the local poachers. But now these days Indian Navy and Coast Guard is keeping an eye over their movement in the mouth of the Ganges. According to one story more than 10 full-grown Tigers were killed by the Poachers to make the famous Over Coat of the actress Elizabeth Taylor in the 70,s.

Sunderbans is spread over 2585 sq.km, 1330 km is for the Project Tiger and 1255 sq.km has been kept as buffer Mangrove forest. It was declared World Heritage site in 1985.
That’s not all Sunderbans used to be a remote land all along with Tribals and Tigers till 1970s. Gosaba is the last town of Sunderbans. One great soul Sir Daniel Hamilton born on 6th December-1860, died 1932 in Scotland visited Sunderbans in the late 19th century. Seeing the plight of the people of Sunderbans, he donated all his property and made Sir Daniel Hamilton trust at Gosaba in 1905, to develop medical dispensary, school, college, road, market, and self-employment for the tribals who used to survive on fish and honey of Sunderbans. In other words their life and soul was under the grips of the landlords. Today, they are still poor but the economy is developing. They are still, surviving on fish but now in improved condition. They are now breeding Tiger Prawns, Honey and the current tourism has given them a new lease of life. Their battle for survival is still going on.
Famous writer Dominique Lapierre visited Sunderbans on last November-04 and donated a floating Dispensary (on Boat) to the people of Sunderbans. This is equipped with medicines, doctors and emergency treatment kit. There are presumptions that his next book may be on Sunderbans. Great souls indeed, long live such great souls.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:EXTREMELY WARM PEOPLE
  • Cons:TOURISM IS STILL ADVENTUROUS
  • In a nutshell:IF SUNDERBANS IS NOT ADVENTUROUS THEN WHAT ELSE.
  • Last visit to Gosaba: Jul 2009
  • Intro Updated Jan 28, 2012
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Reviews (32)

Comments (28)

  • nixca316's Profile Photo
    Dec 10, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Wonderful!

  • mvtouring's Profile Photo
    Jan 8, 2011 at 6:18 AM

    What a grand place to get in touch with nature. Fantastic work you are doing there and it is nice to see others getting involved.

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    What a great story you tell of Sunderban and how you have got involved. The detail comments and pictures are very helpful.

  • adite's Profile Photo
    Oct 18, 2009 at 9:39 AM

    Goutam, I visited your pages after a long time. Am so impressed by your efforts in helping the victims of Aila in Sunderbans. What's the situation there now? Have you been there recently? May God bless you.

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Aug 12, 2009 at 7:11 PM

    Thanks for sharing. Your page is enlightening. Many people are living under the blessings and under the mercy of mother nature.

  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo
    Aug 2, 2009 at 7:37 PM

    Such an awful situation. I do hope things are improving. God bless you for doing what you're doing. Have you been able to get any help from the gov't?

  • Florida999's Profile Photo
    Aug 2, 2009 at 2:33 PM

    Looks bad. You are a kind person to go there and help! We had hurricanes in 04 and it was bad here, but I look at this and think how much worse it could be in your country with so many people that have nothing. Blessings to you on your mission.

  • songlines's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2009 at 5:58 AM

    Thank you so much for educating us about this tragedy. I am so very impressed by the work you are doing. Once again it shows how compassionate the human being is and how eager to help each other. Congratulations! Om Shanti, let there be peace.

  • Faiza-Ifrah's Profile Photo
    Jul 26, 2009 at 5:58 PM

    visited your pages and liked info. saw yor albums and am impressed. my country came out of two tragedies recently (kashmir and frontier earthquake and Swat valley refugee crisis) and am able to relate to certain level. i admire your helping attitude.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Jul 7, 2009 at 2:48 AM

    OMG Goutam! I am so sad about this tragedy. I cannot believe that we were there a few short months ago. WELL DONE my friend on your efforts to improve conditions. When we return here- I will see the results, hopefully.

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