I have always been fascinated with Sundarban the great delta. Right from the time we started learning about it in our school, i would try very hard to imagine how big it could be. Imagine all the major rivers coming together there. But then i left Geography behind and started concentrating on Science , and Sundarban was all forgotten. Two years back while on a short trip to Kolkata , i got hold of a book The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh, (Kolkata is a great place to buy book,u get it really cheap) and it was all about Sundarban, once i finished the book , i knew that i had to visit this place which had fascinated me since childhood. I tried doing some research on the place, tried to find out all about it, but there was not much information on it. Then one of my friend gave me a travel agents phone no, and i was all set. When i mentioned I’m going to Sundarbans – some would ask where is it (how dumb), some would say why are you going there,and some would say only two of you (i was being magnanimous, and sponsoring my little sisters trip ), now can there be anything more dumb than this , i mean do we need an entourage to visit a place in my own country, i know people say its not safe, but i think i can take care of myself pretty well. We finally reached Kolkata and our travel plans were finalised, we were to stay at the Sundarban Tiger Camp, situated at Dayapur village. It was a two day one night package tour. I have never been a fan of package tours, you always have to follow the group , and you never know the kind of people you end up with. But we went ahead with it.
The bus ride from Kolkata was good, right at the outskirts of Kolkata we could see large vegetable fields, then as we travelled further the lanscape changed , instead of fields we could see large water tanks used for rearing fish. All the signboards were in Bengali , so i could not make out the name of the places. We got down at Sonakhali and from there took a motor boat to Sundarban Tiger Camp.
Getting into the boat i realised I’m actually there in Sundarban and i could tick off one from the must visit list that i keep. The boat ride was a pleasant one, it took us almost 3 hours to reached the resort, but i enjoyed it all, there was so much to see. I could imagine how Piyali must have felt. As we left Gosaba the last town and moved into the jungle my excitement knew no bounds. There were islands all over and a huge river. The resort was a very good surprise, i had not expected such luxury at Sundarban.
After having a lunch we went for the first site seeing trip, so back we were at the boat. We went to the Sajnekhali watch tower. The sunset in Sundarban is breathtaking. After the trip when we came back to the resort there were garam chai n pakora and bonfire waiting for us. There was also a dance show put up by the local people. After the dance there was a play on the local folkelore of Banobibi, the show was so well directed and executed that i was pleasantly surprised. As i had read about the story in the book, i could understand it , even though it was in Bengali. Any one who visits should not miss out on this , its a story the locals believe in, and we could see the temple of Banobibi all over the place.
The next day we took an early morning ride to Sudhanyakhali watch tower, If the sunset was breathtaking then the sunrise was as beautiful if not more , and it was very very cold. Sitting there right at the front of the boat i enjoyed every moment of the ride, and deep in my heart i was hoping to see a tiger. This trip was more interesting compared to the evening trip as they took us deep within the jungle, i could see monkeys and deers and lots of amazing birds.
I was disappointed wen it was time to leave, but the memory will always be there with me and also the loads of photographs and video i took of the place.