Hello friends, Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. Just see the excitement of visiting the Sunderbans! We have to catch an 8.30 am bus and reporting time is 8 am. We need to catch the bus rom B.B.D. Bagh, in front of the Tourism Office. But we are here and it is just 7.15 am yet. The office is open. Let us go inside and wait for the bus. We undertook this journey in January, 2019. I am sharing here the tour package details along with the map. If you want to undertake this journey…. ….do check the details of updated tour packages before doing so. For breakfast, I have boiled egg, apple and sandwich. This is where the bus journey ends. The next leg of the journey will be done by ship. We left Kolkata at 8.30 am and reached Sonakhali at 12.00 pm. We have left the bus behind. Now, we are going to walk for about 5-10 minutes. Towards the boat. Ohh yes! We’ve finally reached. First of all, let us look outside and around for 5 minutes. After that, I am going to go on the deck and ask the guide in detail about this journey. I noticed the best thing about this journey is…. …that the local guide will stay with us during the whole journey. He is telling us about the Sunderbans in quite a detail. It is lovely to listen to and understand the guide. It is 1.30 pm and our lunch is ready. I have served 3-4 dishes on my plate. Rice with dal, fish fry, made with the local Katla fish…. …potato-cauliflower curry and Begun (eggplant) bhaja. Also, papad (poppadum). Here, I am noticing,…. …that Begun Bhaja, wherever you may eat it, tastes delicious. Very simple preparations. More than the food, the view from here is worth enjoying. What a beautiful view and this wonderful journey! Every dish is simple! As always, suitable for people of all age groups. Just now, while serving myself some fish, I inquired…. ….and found out that the fish served in the curry is freshwater fish. After finishing my meal, I will talk to the guide. To find out what else we are going to see on this journey next. Right now, we are going on a motorboat to watch the first watch tower of our journey. We will visit a total of 3 watch towers in this journey. We will watch two of those today and one tomorrow. We’ve already entered the Mangrove forest. Look, all of these are mangroves. And the roots that you see below, these are called ‘Breathing Roots.’ When it rains and washes away the top layer of earth, these roots become visible. The tigers find it difficult to walk over these roots. This is another reason why around such portions of island, tigers are seen more in water. This is Sundari tree, from which, this area is named Sundarbans. We are right in the middle of the jungle. This wired boundary that you see here…. …it is for double protection, you can see one layer is this and there is the second layer. So, you can say it is for our safety purpose. Now we are going up there, to look around from the watch tower. Really, this feeling is awesome! I am feeling the freshness of air at a totally different level. It looks so wonderful standing right in the middle of the forest and looking around. Let us go up! Tiger lives alone or in a group? For October, November, December, tiger stays on the safe side, as it is his mating time. When January month is over, then tigers go separate ways. Then, the tigers don’t walk together. Even when the cubs are not born, tiger goes his separate way. This is because the tiger is known to eat his own cubs, therefore, the tigeress goes her separate way. Let me tell you something about Sundarbans. Sundarbans is spread over an area of 10,000 sqkms. Approximately 40% of that area is in India and rest is in Bangladesh. Out of the 4200 sqkms area with India, about 1700 sqkms area is made up of water bodies…. …which you can see around us, as we go on in this journey. Now, Sundarbans is known primarily for 3 things specially – Those 3 things are – No. 1. Royal Bengal Tiger. No. 2. The largest delta in the world. No. 3. Mangrove forests. Not necessarily in the same order, but these are three popular aspects of Sundarbans. From what I know about the Royal Bengal Tiger,…. It usually grows to be 3 meters long but can grow even more in length. And the male of the species weighs between 120-170 kgs. The tiger is known to attack quickly and fiercely. On its enemies, by enemies, I mean, its prey. And it is known to wait patiently for the right moment to attack its prey swiftly. Now let us talk about the delta. Sundarbans is the world’s largest delta. When a river meets the sea, it forms a delta at the point of meeting because of the sediments in the former. The river drops its sediments before flowing into the sea. As it goes on shedding it sediments, it creates a slop on its way to the sea. Now at Sundarbans, river Ganges and Brahmaputra meet the Bay of Bengal, forming this large delta. Okay, so what I told you, that is a different location. So, you mean all these rivers go and meet the Bay of Bengal. Yeah! Great! Well, obviously, it is a good thing he clarified it. Second thing is we won’t be going upto the Delta point because that would take hours to reach. During this journey of hours, we travel just the length of about 10-12 kms from the starting point…. And tomorrow, we will be back after finishing the whole tour. We have reached the second watch tower. Till now, we noticed a bear, a wild boar and some monkeys. Now we are going to visit the Mangrove Interpretation Centre. We came from Gadkhali and right now we are in a place called Sajnekhali. In this map, you will notice that the Bay of Bengal is located quite far from here. The tigers in the Sundarbans area are local animals. There are a lot of tigers here and all are local. Apart from the tiger, Sundarbans also has bamboo shark in its waters. It is mostly found in salt water bodies. When fishermen go into the water to catch fish, this shark bites on their feet. After its bite, the blood doesn’t coagulate, as a result there is continuous bleeding. And since the bleeding doesn’t stop, the victim dies ultimately. Since there are lot of breathing roots on the jungle floor,… (Inaudible) When tiger walks around these roots, he closes his feet, so that the roots don’t pierce his skin. That is an inherent trait of this animal. How do you plant the GPS device on to the tiger? They must be tranquilizing the animal to do that. The animal is tranquilized and then the radio collar with GPS is put on it. Okay. And then the tiger is released into the forest. Yes, then it is released. Our guide has explained about every animal in great detail. This mask that you see, it is distributed by the government to all the fishermen in the area. The fishermen wear this mask on the back of their heads, so that,…. …a tiger or any other wild animal refrains from attacking the fisherman from behind,…. …assuming that the fisherman is facing the animal. Which other tree variety is common here, apart from the Mangroves? Yes, apart from mangrove, there is snakeroot plant, which has snake-like roots, look there. Okay! This is called Geuaan tree. This plant has snake shaped roots. Name of the tree? It is called Geuaan! We’ve reached the top of watch tower. Wow! We are going to check out the rooms here. Wow! The room looks great! There is a sofa set in the outer part of the room and inside there is a double bed. It is peaceful environment around the rooms, right in the middle of the jungle. The tariff of this room is Rs. 3000/-. There is a room with tariff Rs. 2500 as well and the breakfast is complimentary. By the way, staying for a while in this type of environment is also an experience in itself. Evening snack – this is Betki fish fry. With it, there is cutlet and pakora (fritters). And one special thing that I would definitely like to highlight is that…. ….anywhere in West Bengal, you cannot miss eating this mustard sauce. It is compulsorily served everywhere. This is the fish fry I was talking about. This is the flesh of the fish. In Kolkata, I’ve eaten this fish and it has delicious taste. A little sweet flavor! This fish is cooked in many different ways. Frying this fish is one of those methods. It is piping hot. My personal choice…. …mustard sauce,…. Right now, the time is 5.40 pm. By 5.20 pm it was already dark. If you look around, you won’t guess it is just 5.40 pm. In this time zone, the sun sets quite early. This is beetroot and carrot cutlet. This is okay but I liked fish fry better. (Singing) (Singing) Very good! Serve me some rice! You have made chapati today? Very good! That is all. Please give me one chapati. It is 9 pm. Dal, some rice, mix vegetables and mutton! Just like the lunch this afternoon! The dinner is almost similar. Simple & good! Quite magnificent! Dal & vegetables taste just like homely food. The mutton also tastes like home-cooked food but it is prepared very well. Soft & tender, decent amount of spices and very nicely cooked. After having dinner, I have been standing here for the last 30 minutes, feeling the darkness around. Feeling the silence! And we are enjoying the weather! Goodnight for today! Just see the view around! Everyone on the boat is about to retire to bed. We will get our bed tea at 6 am tomorrow morning. I will see you again tomorrow. Goodnight! Good morning! It is 6.10 am. I woke up at 5 am today. It was cold inside the room because we had left these two windows open at night. We enjoyed the breeze blowing in. Then at 5 am, I had to close the windows. Let me show you. At 5.30 am, our boat started moving again. How beautiful! Wow! So beautiful! Good morning! I woke up at 5 am today. We are going into the forest now. Very good! So, can I have some tea and biscuits! My alarm was set to ring at 5 am since yesterday morning. When we had left Kolkata. I forgot to reset my alarm. So, at 5 am my alarm went off. In any case, I am used to waking up early in the morning. Thank you man! You had kept these biscuits hidden for today! (Laughter) I am just joking! The tea is ready at 6 am. With biscuits! Let us go stand outside! Wow! What a beautiful view! Really isn’t it! Too good! For your knowledge,… …till this point, we have covered a distance of 25 kms. We will travel another 2 and a half kms, and after breakfast, will start our return journey. Quite magnificent! This is the MOMENT, which is the best moment of the journey till now. The weather, this view and the morning!!! After finishing this tea, we will move on to the deck area. And from there, we will enjoy the view of this journey through the jungle. They are making announcement, inviting us to the deck area. This is that time of the day when we can see the animals crossing the river. So, for 2 minutes, I will check out the front of the boat and after that, upstairs. This is the No Man’s Land, there is no fencing and to village settlements here. Okay! For the next two and a half hours. Yes, this is absolutely correct! Yesterday, at the spot where we anchored our ship,… …the area of the jungle around there was fenced in. This was done to keep the animals out of the water along that spot. This is No Man’s Land. It is right now a possibility that you could see a tiger. Right now, it is low tide. During this time, tigers usually cross from one side of the river to the other. You have a better chance at viewing the tiger. So, should we go upstairs or keep standing here? It is better to view from above. Shall we go then? Very good! When will we reach the next watch tower? We will reach there by 9 am. Very good! Did you have your tea? One more thing about this ship – they have motorboats tagging behind. So, in case we have to go to the river bank, we use these motorboats, which you can see there. Everyone is on the deck. Look at this beautiful sunrise! The sun looks like an orange ball. Very beautiful! We have jungles on either side and river flowing in the middle. Yesterday, I told you that majority of Sundarbans is covered in water bodies. The ship is moving along. We have other tourists with us. None of the pssengers is asleep anymore. Some are already up on the deck…… …and others are about to come up. For the next two and a half hours, we will indulge in animal-watching. If any of those would be crossing the river, we will be able to see it. We have reduced our speed now. We are passing through a narrow creek area. For the first time, since we started our journey yesterday,… …we are passing through an area where the jungle is at an arm’s length from us. Now we will have to watch very carefully for any animal movement. Here, there is a chance that an animal might be crossing the river, allowing us to have a close look at it. We can see two wild boards in front of us. Quite closely! Animal kingdom! What is this? Laddoo and lucchee (fried flatbread)! Very good! Lucchee is quite popular around here, isn’t it? Yeah, give me three. Ahh, stop, stop! Do you have a bowl? Yes, we have. It will be easy to eat it out of a bowl. Aloo dum? Aloo dum! Okay, for this dish, you dice potatoes into larger pieces? Yes! Very good! A little bit of curry! Here on this board is written all that they serve for breakfast, lunch & dinner. The menu is set as per the duration of your stay. By the way, this is the first time I am travelling like this. Staying overnight on a ship, like this. It is a good way to travel – eat, enjoy the view, eat again, enjoy the view again! And go for a comfortable sleep at night. If you come to Kolkata, you must not miss Luchee, it is made with refined flour. Eating lucchee with aloo dum is a good combination. Well-cooked! Delicious! And rest of it, goes without saying,… …the weather is complimenting the meal. Especially with a taste like this. In this journey, though we watched limited number of animals,… …but I have to admit, there is no dearth of good food here! We get to eat every 2 hours or so. Sometimes it is a snack, sometimes tea, lunch or dinner! Papaya with custard! I ate that boondi laddoo earlier! Because of that I am not able to feel the sweetness of custard at all. I should have eaten this first and then the laddoo. That would have been a better way to go about it. We took a smaller boat to reach this third watch tower of our journey. This place is called Dobanki. It is 9.10 am and the weather is magnificent. The weather is awesome, in fact! To come here in January is an enjoyable experience! Just keep your expectations under a check. And enjoy this trip with regards to the scenic views and fresh air. Today is January 10th and it is written on the board that this is Dobanki. A tiger was sighted between 7.40 and 7.48 am. It is 9.10 am now. Let us go towards the watch tower. By the way this watch tower is interesting! If you go up and sit for 3-4 hours,…. …it feels good and…. …there is a good chance that you will be able to catch animal movement from there. There you can see the Siberian birds, who travel from Siberia to India every year. Okay! Wow! These birds that are there…. …they have flown all the way from Siberia…. …and just to right of those birds,… …there is the Otter Monitor Lizard. I can see the lizard absolutely clearly. Let us look at the left now. Here…. Yeah, about 150 meters away…. …on that mud road, another Otter Monitor Lizard. It is a walking distance of one kilometer. From here, we will reach back to our boat and…. ….we will enjoy the jungle view on both the sides. Wow! How natural does this view look! That is a crocodile right opposite to us. Ohh! So beautiful! So beautiful! Half of it is in the water and rest on the land. By the way, it is an effective means to travel around in the smaller boats and…. …enjoy the animal visibility better. There is a crocodile! Crocodile! Thank you! Bye! This kind of journey is an experience in itself. Usually, what you expect from a wildlife journey is a safari, a jeep, travelling in and out of forest area. This is a first time experience for me to travel in a boat, or ship, like this. There is jungle everywhere. But the jungle is at a distance, not too close! Second thing, if you have binoculars, you will enjoy the view better. This is a place where 5 rivers merge. All five come in from different directions. This is the Matla river. If we go straight, we will reach the Bay of Bengal. Bay of Bengal! Perfect! You guys served lunch quite early today. It is 12 pm still. Less of rice, and tell me when will we reach back? We will reach at 1 pm and get off the boat at 1.30 pm. Yeah, give me some dal. What is this? Cabbage and potato curry. And there is chicken too! I don’t want too much of chicken. Lesser than that! Just a little bit of gravy! That is enough! Give me some papad! Papad and that is all! A lot of food that I am liking in Kolkata…. ….also includes this baingan fry (eggplant fry). In Sikkim, the kala jeera that I ate in aloo dum for breakfast….. …that has also been used in this baingan fry. It is called Kalonji in Hindi and Mangrail in Rajasthani languages. Look at it from this side. If you add this Kala jeera to the fritters, it gives an amazing flavor to the final product. We had our lunch early today. By 1.30 pm we will reach back. After that on to Kolkata. This journey was really awesome! I enjoyed a lot and still enjoying it. And the best part is to sit on the deck like this,…. …and feel the breeze around you. Can you imagine the pure and fresh air that we are breathing in right now? This place is really awesome! It is simple food. I have been noticing since yesterday. Not more, not less! It feels like eating at home. The cook on this ship seems to be an expert in simple cooking. I am enjoying a lot! It is time to conclude our journey into the Sundarbans. Just look out there once! As the sunlight touches the surface of water, it looks as if stars are twinkling over the water. It is looking beautiful! You have seen me sitting on the deck above. Now let me show you my accommodation too. In this part of accommodation, there are four berths. These two were empty for whole of the journey. These two berths were occupied by us. And what you see here was quite a comfortable arrangement. If you want, I can show it to you again. Let me remove this bed sheet. Space-wise, this berth was comfortable. The amount of space is more than what you get while travelling in A.C. 2 Tier on a train. They also provided us with the bed sheet and a blanket. There is also an air-conditioner installed. I enjoyed the sleep at night. Now let me also show you the non-AC section of the accommodation. In this section too, there are similar four berths. The seating space is the same. The only difference is that of AC. As for the comfort level, if you come during January and December,…. ….the non-AC section is equally good. They have four shower rooms. You can check it out for your reference. Water is procured locally. Because the river water is sweet, nor salty. There are four toilets like these. It is spacious as well as clean. This trip that we went on with a government agency…. …has been quite a comfortable journey. The animal visibility was quite low. Despite that, we enjoyed this journey very much. Scenic views, floating over water, staying overnight in a ship,… …and a lot more like the food – I enjoyed all my meals. From here, we will take a smaller boat to reach the bank. And after that, to Kolkata. Finally, we finished our Sundarbans journey in Kolkata at 4.30 pm. Right now, the bus dropped us here and left. We will go to Salt Lake from here. Tell us your opinion about this video. As always, I shall wait for your comments. If you have experiences related to Sundarbans, do share with us. We enjoyed this journey immensely. That’s it! Bye for now! Thanks for your time!