Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back from the Sunderbans!

I’m back! With a tan and a nasty cold & cough, thanks to the sweltering heat & humidity of the forest and the air-conditioned confines of our resort.

Frankly, I’d say the Sunderbans are over-hyped if you ask me. Tales of how dense and crocodile-infested they are is largely true, but the forest is shrinking rapidly due to the pace at which we are polluting our eco-system. Tigers and other fauna are dwindling in numbers. Moreover, the tigers have forced to become man-eaters b/c their natural prey is difficult to come by (due to the shrinking forest) and fishermen who venture too close to the forest or go in to collect honey are easier prey.

There are apparently almost 250 tigers left in the Sunderbans but you have to be really lucky to spot one. The biggest disadvantage being that one can’t venture inside the forest due to its density. One can travel only through the river, so what you get is endless boat rides! The scenery remains the same...water flanked by forests on both sides.

Tigers can be spotted only if they’re walking along the banks of the river. However, the river water itself has become really saline due to pollution, so tigers prefer to drink water from the fresh water ponds made at various places within the forest by the forest department as part of the Tiger Conservation Project.

Luck didn’t favor us and we couldn’t spot a tiger. But we saw plenty of deer and even a crocodile in the river, right next to our boat!

The Sunderbans do not get a very large number of tourists, so the tourism scene in the area is not too developed. There's only one resort worth staying at - the Sunderban Tiger Camp. There isn't much to do except go on boat rides hoping to spot a tiger! The forest is so dense, one can't even explore the area on one's own.

All in all, you should go to the Sunderbans only when you want to break away from the maddening pace of city life & you want to relax. Not a place for adventure seekers and definitely not a "happening" place!

Here are some pictures from the trip...





3 comments:

Psyched said...

Nice pics...
Esp. the last two ...
:)

Mumbai Diva said...

Hmmm. Ok. Rules them out from my travel list!

But, I guess it's sad the effect pollution is having on such places.

Scarlett said...

@Psyched - Nothing would've beaten spotting a tiger though!

@Mumbai Diva - Yes, it's really sad. Us humans are despicable. The forest guide was telling us that the water of the river has become so saline due to the pollution that tigers get acidity drinking the water. That causes further health complications for them, so they're not able to hunt. So they're forced to become man-eaters. It's payback in a way, so I guess there's some natural justice happening.
PS: LOVELY place to have found a house at! Congrats :)