Wednesday, February 2, 2011

TRIP TO SUNDARBAN, THE LARGEST RIVER DELTA

I asked the guide on the boat " How many times have you seen the Tigers ?"
After a pause, and  lot of scratching of his Hena ( Red and brown) colored hair, he replied " Well during my 30 years Carrier , I have seen twice".....
 Our gang was busy discussing more important things than Tiger, but the other people in the tour group were disappointed.  We did not come to see tigers but for a get together after four decades. Seeing a tiger was considered as a fringe benefit. I have seen tigers in the zoo and also in the wilderness. So I was not very particular.
We, few classmates in engineering, decided to meet . Our lady engineer flew down all the way from Houston, one from Saudi. It  was a great experience indeed....just meeting friends after 4 decades!!!  
Let me write a travelogue for you...
THE SUNDAR BAN
It is the largest delta, created by the river Brhmaputra and Ganga ( Distributaries of these, have different names in Bangladesh)  and also has the largest Mangrove forest in the world. It spreads over 10,000 sq Km , out of which, 4000 Sq.Km is in India, rest is in Bangladesh. It has been declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has largest number of Tigers and most of them are habitual man-eaters. The area is criss-crossed by numerous water bodies, where one can get lost and forever ( unless one has a GPS fitted boat. Fortunately one cant travel deep inside the sanctuary and get lost.). For me Sundarban is a dreadfully beautiful place, frighteningly monotonous and lonely...and thats the catch , the monotony gives you enough space for yourself to think about things which you never would have. At the end of the trip into the wilderness you are fresh because you rediscovered yourself.  Please read more on Sundarban in Internet,
THE TOUR
The tour was for 3 days and 2 nights. We were five classmates , unfortunately wife of a friend could not join at the last moment. The tour was well organized , pick up from door and drop you at your door at the end. Most people hire boats and stay over night in the boat. But we could book rooms in the only Govt. tourist lodge located in the reserve forest area.
We started from Calcutta around 7 AM, and reached last road head at Basanti around 11-30 AM. Beyond this place,  you see only islands created by criss-crossing water bodies. Many islands are inhabited and the only means of transport here, is by boat. We were served packed breakfast on the way and it was an exciting experience to break egg shell on your lap, in a moving bus on a bad road..... 
The boat was ready for us. It had 4 double beds in the hull and many chairs on the deck. We were booked in the lodge for the nights and did not have any use for the beds. It was generally used by the sleep-loving people of the other groups. Here the boats are reasonably bad looking but you can hire boats with separate cubicles with bed. These boats are for the people who want to spend night in privacy. You get good big boat-tour operated by West Bengal Govt.
But we were not interested in star hotel luxuries, but to feel  a common man's experience in such trip.
The simplicity of those remote places is the key thing to experience....you can see it from the photo below. I am sure the painter tried his best to put the right spelling of Jungle on our boat.  The word Jungal stole my heart.....See the photo below.


PLEASE CLICK EACH PHOTO TO SEE LARGER VERSION.


The boat "JUNGAL QUEEN" with the captain cum Navigator cum Engine man.
Our boat started with the engine noise exceeding permissible decibel...but again that was exciting too.
We traveled through inhabited islands. I was surprised to see all villages had minimum electricity supply through solar panels. It is impossible to provide regular electricity in a cost effective manner, in those remote islands.
The village house with a solar panel and new straw kept for maintenance, of course the gossiping village ladies were the star attraction. 
Village boats on the Bank

The boat ride continued for 3 hours or so. We saw many passing boats, great water bodies, villages on islands, a great lunch with baby Indian salmon cooked on board and suddenly we saw the picture of a tiger starving of human beings.
The slim Tiger , who did not get any human being for quite sometime.
The Loknath baba Ashram on an island
Finally we arrived at Sajnekhali tourist lodge , the only one allowed inside the Forest area.
The boat landing area and the complex was protected by net, so that Tigers don't come inside.
The boat landing at the gate of Sajne khali  tourist lodge.
THE TOURIST LODGE AT SOJNEKHALI.
The tourist lodge has 30 double rooms with attached bath and the whole building is on concrete stilts. No one stays at the ground level. It is very nice and dont expect a class hotel luxury at this remote place. There is no regular electricity supply. But the complex has its own power generation facility for the night only.
The long Veranda is mostly used by the monkeys and rarely by human beings.
Tourists on a morning walk inside the complex

The diner  and breakfast are included in the tariff, with fixed menu. So there was no headache of choosing any food. It was good, simple chicken curry, dal, egg plant fries and one vegetable curry.
Day-2
We had a nice breakfast with Luchi ( puri) and dum alu. The day two was a 10 hours journey, up and down, to BudiR DabDi river. The boat negotiated wide and narrow water bodies. Every body was on the look out for tigers. Generally tigers are not visible, even if they may be watching you from the hide outs. The luck comes if a tiger is swimming to the other bank  and if you were happened to be there. We could see the fresh pug mark . Looking at the water level on a low tide, the guide concluded " The tiger has swam across 15 minutes back..." ( Who cares if it had crossed 15 minutes or 15 hrs back.)
Fresh pug marks on the bank. ( I had to believe the guide, until I see a live tiger leaving pug marks)

The journey is quite monotonous through the water bodies in mangrove forest. As mentioned earlier, you will never get tired of watching the forest on the bank, slide into some deep thoughts or keep gossiping and giggling with your friends. I preferred to pull a chair and keep gazing at the banks and the forest.
Here are few photographs. Sundarban is a place to be experienced personally and not through blogs.
Bicycles and people going to the other island 
A minor water way , at low tide.
Net at the bank to prevent the tiger to cross over and eat human being on the inhabited island 
Naughty Carmorants, gossiping, you see them in Kerala too
Some trees
Delicious , cute little sweet water crabs for the lunch
Fisher men

Forest on the bank, see the white leaves, coated with salt.
Three men on a boat and moving fast.
The breathers of Mangrove trees.
The supporting roots of the trees
The vastness of the water bodies
BURIR DABRI, ECO-TOURISM COMPLEX
At the boat landing of the complex , I was waiting for the usual drama staged by a guide. And it came . I am quite used to these dramas at all wild life sanctuaries. And I love those nicely enacted dramas,
" Please be silent , I am going to check if there is any tiger inside. In that case we cant go in. Dont leave the boat till I say so". He picked up a twig to defend himself from the tiger.
So he and his assistant went cautiously up the stairs. There was usual argument who would go inside first. Anyway the guide gave final clearance to de-board and follow him.
I was reasonably scared, I mean I pretended, to scare my wife. ( That was a useless effort indeed as she was in a hurry to go and see what was there inside the fencing.)
What did we see after reaching the complex?
"Young children playing around in front of their house, ladies collecting dried clothes, and men feeding goats etc".
I gave a complement to the guide " It was an wonderful drama"
He smiled and said " Thats how I maintain my job...my apologies, I did not know that you were aware of these events".
Anyway it was an enjoyable experience. 
The guide with hena colored hair giving final clearance to go inside the complex.
The complex is good ( with loo) , watch towers, cleared vegetation outside, in case a tiger tries to cross and you see and kilo meter of protected walkway for you and tigers to see each other. (We and the Tigers were not lucky to see each other)
Here are some photos
The watch tower for the tigers, I mean you stand there and the tigers see you from the hiding.
The Tiger told the Tigress from the hiding " I wish we had them for dinner , (one each)".
Protected walkway for Kilo meters through the dense forest. 
The sitting deities, the tiger God " Dakshin Rai " and the Tiger Goddess " Bono bibi." The Goddess protects the tiger and Human beings from each other. People entering the forest for honey collection and fishing must worship the Goddess, irrespective of their religion.
The famous red crabs, not even a centimeter long.
The return journey from Burir Dabri was uneventful. Except that we experienced a brilliant sunset and scary travel through fog in the night. Hats off to the captain of the boat.
Sunset 
Day 3rd
It was again journey back to the road head through the water bodies but through a different route. We saw another Tiger observatory. Here also the tiger spared us. 
The Tiger spared SOMEONE to take care of no-one.


We saw a  boat load of people who were lost as they did not hire a navigator. We told them to follow us.
We had prawns and more baby Indian salmons for lunch. It was 31st Dec and the tour operator surprised us with gifts and a cake.
Here are some photographs taken on our way back, mainly the human beings on the river bank.
The lonely brick transporter.
The village-folks 



And last but not the least, The Slum Dog Millionaire's den 

I have joined few movies clips together. The back ground song is by Ameen of Bangladesh. I am sure you will like it.
Sundarban Video
I am off blog. I am sad to say , I wont be visiting blog regularly due to some unforeseen circumstances. I am sure you will excuse me. I shall be back by April or earlier. Will miss you all for some time. 

52 comments:

Shanthi said...

A wonderful virtual tour. Thanks for sharing

Shobha said...

Looks like we actually took a tour of Sunderban.
Thanks for sharing. So nice to read about the places you have not seen.

Hamaree Rasoi said...

Dear Kaku

Thanks a lot for sharing the beautiful pics of Sunderban. If time permits we too will visit there during this year end. You and kakima look so cute together. No tiger will have an urge to eat either of you :)

Deepa
Hamaree Rasoi

Shilpi Bose said...

Well it is obvious you had a wonderful trip, I feel like dropping everything and just rushing off to Sunderbans.

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

must have been loads of fun...

Sayantani said...

ki sundor, besh ghurechen amar desher bari bojhai jachhe. ami akhon kolkatay, ese theke chhele ja bhugche ar konodike takanor somoy pachhina. apnar shorir kamon akhon? asha kori sab thik ache, kothao jachhen abar?

Jaya said...

Excellent post..Thats just so lovely to go on a virtual tour with you Ushnish Da..Thanks for sharing..regards

? said...

Am still laughing after reading this post: the 'falling eggshells on the road' and the 'reasonably bad looking boats' plus I am really gald that the tiger 'spared Someone to take care of no-one"!! :-D
the pcitures are very evocative of Bengali ehtos!
Someone looks lovely too!

Priya said...

Wat a beautiful post, thanks for this virtual tour with u..lovely clicks..

savitha ramesh said...

A virtual tour of the sundarbans...live pics..cute to see the life style

Cham said...

Thanks for the virtual tour, awesome clicks especially the red crab...
Take care and see you in April!

Amrita said...

Lovelt travelogue, as always. Your description of the Guide's "Drama" had me in splits :)you have reported that there were nets all over the place. I wonder what was the real reason for the nets. This was, according to you, to protect you from the evil designs of the tiger...... or was it the other way round? :)

Loved the video at the end and enjoyed the music thoroughly even if I could not understand the lyrics.

And thanks a lot for staying in touch with my blog in spite of the trouble in subscribing to my blog. I have found that you can subscribe to wordpress blogs also on your blogger dashboard. you will find a "ADD" button at the bottom of your "Reading List". On clicking it, you arrive at "Add Blogs to Follow" You have to now, copy the URL of my blog in the form provided for "Add from URL". Hope this works :)

Hope to see you back in April. :)

Nandini said...

What a spectacular tour, sir! I'm sure it must've been an unforgettable experience! I loved the part about the majestic tigers. I've enjoyed reading your details about the tour.

Anita said...

You cover it so nicely that I feel I just had a trip to Sundarban. Thanks so much, very nice documentry..

Anu Santanu said...

Felt as if I just had a trip to Sundarban.. Excellent photography.. Thank you so much for sharing.. Loved the tiger pug mark picture..

PJ said...

Ushnish,u took me back to school!I remember reading this and wanting to visit Sundarbans and u have taken me on a free tour!Thanks so much for sharing such wonderful pics. Enjoyed the virtual tour :)

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

Enjoy your trip to Orissa. My MIL's books are published by Cuttack Student's Store. You will find it in any big book store...

Viki's Kitchen said...

Thanks for this detailed post on Sundarbans , Ushnishj! I have studied about them in school days and wondered if there could be some roots that stay up...the stilt roots. Surprisingly most of your travel places are my favorite too:) The whole travel seems much exciting and thrilling. Like that guide's drama very much, we can pay more to get that kind of touch:) Your SOMEONE is very beautiful. Very nice article and enjoyed as much as your Himalayas' one:) Have a nice time.

Ananda Rajashekar said...

Hello Da, i enjoyed ur about yr trip, sundarbans i have just read in my school books, Look beautiful than even anticipated, loved the virtual trip and that red crab looks attractive and glad he he that u and tiger did not meet :P have a good break!

kothiyavunu.com said...

Hello ushnishda..How r u doing?? Awesome post as always and excellent click!! Enjoyed reading your trip stories..liked those small crabs :)

Alessandra said...

What a trip, short but intense. Actually, I would love to see a tiger in the wild... but I would be scared too!

alwayswinner786 said...

Apnar lekhay, chobite Sundorbonka sotie sundorbhabe pelam! Free trip ekai bole! Excellent video and music!
We will all miss you a lot but during this time keep smiling, be happy and stay healthy and comeback soon!
Love Always.

Authenticoriyafood said...

Nice clicks...i wud love to visit the Sunderbans someday...Gr8 that u will be travelling to Orissa !!!
Have a nice trip !!!

Arti said...

A wonderful post, nicely describing everything in detail... Great pics too, loved the mud shot showing the pug marks...
The fact that the tiger swam 15 minutes ago just gives you the feeling that you were close.... Just not close enough!!
Have a nice day:)
Will miss your beautiful posts:)

Madhu said...

Wow, you should try photography aso...you are really good at it.

Gulmohar said...

Great trip...Thanks for shariung these wonderful pics :-) ANd I loved the fact that you left someone to take care of no one...lol..Regards to her :-)

Preeti Kashyap said...

I enjoyed reading this detailed post...never have I seen such small crabs...awesome clicks!

Jagruti જાગૃતિ said...

hello dada
lovely post...lovely clicks too !

Sushma Mallya said...

It was lovely viewing all the photos seems like u had lots of fun:)

Shilpi Bose said...

I know you have been going slow on your blogging but all the same when Reshmi Of Easy Cook gave me two awards and according to the rules I was to share it with 15 bloggers, I could not help but think of you. I know you have already won several awards so while sharing the awards with you I have drawn attention to some of your posts which I really liked. I have also given links, so if you like you may collect the awards.

sangeeta said...

I came here again to read and enjoy the post in a relaxed mood.... Do i need to say it was great??

The drama enacted by the guide and the egg shells in your lap :) and the tiger watch tower .... i always like the entertaining way you write...

Listening to the song though i can understand only a few words of this bengali...liking it.

Adelina said...

all your clicks are amazing- but I love those with people in them in particular-how healthy and happy they look!

Rima said...

Hello Kolnu Kaku,
I was surfing around and found your blog. Great write ups and beautiful photographs!
Regards and pronam to you and kakima.
-Rima (daughter of your first cousin, Dipen Kumar Ghosh from Kolkata).

Rajani said...

What a travelogue,wow,you have generated so much interst in the reader by your well paced narrative(inspite of not seeing any tiger),you make the trip sound so memorable!
And drama,nice attitude to guide's survival stories,nice clikcs and virtual tour.
Da,hoping to seeing you in blogging action soon.

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Rima
What a surprise it is. Can you please mail me your contact details to "ugems@vsnl.com"...Cant wait to talk to you and know more ..
Lots of love
Kolnu kaku

Malar Gandhi said...

Wow, thank you so much for the virtual tour, I almost felt like been there. Like the mangrove trees, studied so much about them...but never chanced upon to visit marshy lands. Loved all the those pictures, and you know' small crabs are delicious. Perfect lunch. Some One looks so cute, convey the message to her:) And throughout the pictures' I enjoyed ur captions...tiger spared someone' hilarious:)

Indrani said...

beautiful travelogue, dada...really enjoyed reading every details and specially boudi ke dekhe khub bhalo laglo..finally apni dekhalen kar janya apni eto ranna karen..lucky boudi...amar cheleder school khub bhalo chalche,they r enjoying and always ready to go to school

Soumya..... said...

Sounds great! Hope you had a wonderful trip
Happy Following you from my new space
http://entepachakalokam.com/

Authenticoriyafood said...

Hi Ushnish.....are you not planing to update us on your Orissa trip??

Looking forward to a lots of wonderful clicks and recipies from you!!

Rumana Rawat said...

This is really a lovely place.. 1month before i was watching this place on National Geographic channel and i like so much that i was telling to my hubby soon we should go to this place, and we have plans also to visit ASAP..After seeing your picture i want to go tomorrow itself...hehehehe.. lovely place:)

Babli said...

Koyek mash por apnar blog e eshe khub bhalo laglo. Ami 15 years age Sundarban e berate giyechhilam. Eto sundor kore apni likhechhen r chhobigulo oshadharon hoyechhe, ichhe korchhe abar ghurte jai.

Seema Kamath alias Seema Abbas Ali said...

Hello Ushnishda,

I have a few awards in my space for you. I would be honored if you picked them up.

http://amchi-bong-konnexion.blogspot.com/2011/03/100th-post-10000-hits-and-awards-i-am.html

Regards,
amchi-bong-konnexion.blogspot.com
seemabbas.blogspot.com

varsha said...

Ushnish loved the pics of a part of India I have not yet seen.The fresh water crabs look delicious too!!

Mina Joshi said...

A wonderful discription of your trip. India has so many wonders and is an amazing place. I feel that some areas are a well kept secret from the rest of the World.

Preeti Kashyap said...

thanks for visiting and we are eagerly waiting for your next post!

Now Serving said...

looks like you had a wonderful visit!enjoyed the pictures a lot :)

simply.food said...

Beautiful recap and clicks.

SGD said...

Ek kothaye....durdanto travelogue!!
jemon chhobi temni narration!!!
loved reading abt your sundarbon trip!
Ar comments gulo (thoughts of the tiger & tigress!!;)) were hilarious!

Now Serving said...

Thanks for visiting back, Ush :) And the info on whey - I have since added some sources which I'd consulted earlier and given links ...
thanks dear!

Jhimly Kar Hazra said...

Visited your space for the first time, and really liked it. Your blend of travel experiences with culinary delights took me away to West Bengal...my first choice of residence. Will definitely come back for more... Till then Happy blogging!

Daljeet Kaur said...

I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
Tour and Travel Companies in Panchkula

Somnath Paul said...

Do you remember the contacts? If so, can you mention the names...