In the south western part of Bangladesh, in the district of greater Khulna, lies the Sundarbans, "the beautiful forest". It is a virgin forest which until recently owed nothing to human endeavour and yet nature has laid it out with as much care as a planned pleasure ground. For miles and miles,the lofty treetops form an unbroken canopy, while nearer the ground, works of high and ebb-tide marked on the soil and tree trunks and the many varieties of the natural mangrove forest have much to offer to an inquisitive visitor. Here land and water meet in many novel fashions. Wild life presents many a spectacle. No wonder you may come across a Royal Bengal Tiger swimming across the streams or the crocodiles basking on the river banks. Wth the approach of the evening herds of deer make for the darking glades where boisterous monkeys shower Keora leaves from above for sumptuous meal for the former. For the botanist, the lover of nature, the poet and the painter this land provides a variety of wonders for which they all crave.
The Sundarbans is a cluster of inslands with an approximate area of 6000 sq. km. forming the largest block of littoral forests. It's beauty lies In its unique natural surrounding. Thousands of meandering streams, creeks, rivers and estuaries have enhanced its charm. Sundarbans meaning beautiful forest is the natural habitat of the world famous Royal Bengal Tiger, spotted deer, crocodiles, jungle fowl, wild boar, lizards, rhesus monkey and an innumerable variety of beautiful birds. Migratory flock of siberian ducks flying over thousands of sail boats loaded with timber, golpatta (round-leaf), fuel wood, honey, shell and fish further add to the serene natural beauty of the Sundarbans.
This is indeed a land for the sportsmen, the anglers and the photographers with its abundance of game, big and small, crocodile, wild boar, deer, pythons, wild birds and above all the Royal Bengal Tiger, cunning, ruthless and yet majestic and graceful. For the less adventurously inclined, there are ducks and snipes, herons and coots, yellow-lags and sandpipers. It is also the land for the ordinary holiday makers who desire to rest or wander around at will to refresh their mind and feast their eyes with the rich treasure that nature has so fondly bestowed.
Area: Nearly 2400 sq. miles or 6000 sq. km.
Forest limits: North-Bagerhat, Khulna and Satkhira districts; South - Bay of Bengal; East - Baleswar (or Haringhata) river, Perojpur, Barisal district, and West - Raimangal and Hariabhanga rivers, which partially form Bangladesh boundary with West Bengal in India.
Wild life photography including photography of the famous Royal Bengal Tiger wild life viewing, boating inside the forest wild call recordings, nature study, meeting fishermen wood-cutters and honey-collectors, peace and tranquility in the wilderness, seeing the world's largest mangrove forest and the riverine beauty.
Hiron Point (Nilkamal) for tiger, deer, monkey, crocodiles, birds and natural beauty.Katka for deer, tiger, crocodiles, varieties of birds and monkey morning and evening symphony of wild fowls. Vast expanse of grassy meadows running from Katka to Kachikhali (Tiger Point) provide opportunities for wild tracking. Tin Kona Island for tiger and deer. Dublar Char (Island) for fishermen. It is a beautiful island where herds of spotted deer are often seen to graze.
Means of communication
Water transport is the only means of communication for visiting the Sundarbans from Khulna or Mongla Port. Private motor launch, speed boats, country boats as well as mechanised vessel of Mongla Port Authority might be hired for the purpose. From Dhaka visitors may travel by air, road or rocket steamer to Khulna - the gateway to the Sundarbans. Most pleasant journey from Dhaka to Khulna is by paddle Steamer, Rocket presenting a picturesque panorama of rural Bangladesh. Day and night-long coach services by road are also available. The quickest mode is by air from Dhaka to Jessore and then drive to Khulna by road.
It varies depending on tides against or in favour in the river. Usually 6 to 10 hours journey by motor vessel from Mongla to Hiron Point or Katka.
Accommodation inside the forest
Hiron Point: Comfortable three-storied Rest- House of the Mongla Port Authority. Prior booking is to be made.
Katka: Forest Department Rest- House located here. Prior booking essential.
Drinking Water: Drinking water is to be carried. Water available is saline.
Journey by Rocket Steamer to Mongla and Khulna
Minimum Journey time is 22 Hours for Mongla and 24 Hours for Khulna from Dhaka.
Prior permission must be obtained through written application from the Divisional Forest Office, Circuit House Road, Khulna (Phone 20665, 21173) to visit the Sundarbans. Required entrance fees for visitors, vessel or boat payable at the relevant forest station/range office.
Fee for commercial photography
Movie Ta.5,000.00 per role exposed
Video Ta.4,000.00 per Cassette
Still Ta. 1,000-00 per role exposed
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, National Tourism Organization offers all-inclusive guided package tours from Dhaka to Sundarbans and return during the tourist season (October to March). Group size Minimum 12 pax.
For rates and booking please contact :
Manager (Tours), Bangladesh parjatan Corporation, 233, Airport Road, Tejgaon, Dhaka-1215, Phone : 817855-59 Fax : 880-2-817235 Telex : 642206 TOUR BJ.
Climate in the Sundarbans is moderate. Air is humid. Full monsoon is from June to September. The annual rainfall average between 65" and 70". During ebb-tide the forest becomes bare by 6-7 feet and at high tide (30 miles an hour) the entire territory of the forest floats on water.
Life in forest
Only means of transportation inside the forest is boat. There is no road, no trail of a path anywhere. The wood-cutters make temporary dwellings at the edge of the forest at a height of 8-10 feet for fear of wild animals - others live on boats. In the Chandpai region it is fascinating to see the nomadic fishermen (living with families on boats) catching fish with the help of trained otters. Exciting activities take place in Dublar Char in the forest where fishermen from Chittagong gather for four months (mid Oct. to mid Feb.) to catch and dry fish. But the most daring and exciting of all activities is presented by the honey-collectors who work in groups for just two months (April-May) and it is interesting to see how they locate a hive and then collect honey.
lora and Fauna
The Sundarbans is endowed by nature with rich flora and fauna. It is a wonderful place to see or to shoot a Royal Bengal Tiger with Camera if one has the time to wait in the forest. There are a good number of tigers in the Sundarbans. Lovely spotted deer are easy to find. Besides there are a wide variety of wild life for which the Sundarbans is so famous.
Visit to the forest
Permission from the Divisional Forest Officer, Khulna is required to visit to the forest. Cholera vaccine is to be taken well in advance.
Anti-malarial, anti-diarrhoeal, insectrepellent cream, drinking water, green coconuts, medical kit, light tropical dress, thick rubber soled boots etc. are to be carried with the tourist. It will be wise to take the help of an experienced guide to make the journey fruitful.
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST
Khulna: Khulna is the third biggest industrial city of the country. It is a divisional headquarter which serves as a gateway to the sea port of Mongla and the Sundarbans. Khulna is also famous for shrimp processing and newsprint.
Bagerhat: This little town is 40 km. south-east of Khulna on the northern fringes of the Sundarbans. It is a district headquarter. Bagerhat is famous for SHAIT-GUMBAD MOSQUE (60-domed) built in 1459 and shrine of the Muslim mystic Khan Jahan Ali.
Mongla: Mongla is the second sea port of the country and gateway to the Sundarbans. It lies 38 km. to the south of Khulna. The port authority has got motor launches to go to the forest.
Tourist season & shooting: Best time to visit the Sundarbans is from November to March. Exciting honey collection season is during April-May. Hunting is prohibited by law in the country for the preservation of wild life. Certain species of birds, however can be shot with prior permission of the Divisional Forest Officer, Khulna (Phone : 20665 & 21173).
Important phone numbers
Mongla Port Authority (Dhaka Office) 404071
Rocket Steamer Reservation, Dhaka 9559779, 9555031-6
Rocket Steamer Reservation, Khulna 21532, 20423
Divisional Forest Officer Khulna 20665
Biman Booking Office Khulna 61020
Khulna Metropolitan Police Control Room 20220
Khulna Sadar Hospital 20133
Hotel Royal 21638, 21639
Hotel Park 20990, 24077.
Additional information on the Sundarbans can be found here.