Where the land meets the sea at the southern tip of West Bengal lies the Indian Sundarbans, a stretch of impenetrable mangrove forest of great size and bio-diversity. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sundarban is a vast area covering 4262 square km's in India alone, with a larger portion in Bangladesh. 2585 sq. km's of the Indian Sundarban forms the largest Tiger Reserve and National Park in India. The total area of the Indian part of theSundarban forest, lying within the latitude between 21°13'-22°40' North and longitude 88°05'-89°06' East, is about 4,262 sq km, of which 2,125 sq km is occupied by mangrove forest across 56 islands and the balance is under water.
But the dark and foreboding attractiveness of the mangroves also hides some of the most sought after birds in the world and a chance encounter with a Brown-winged Kingfisher, a Grey Headed Lapwing, a Pallas's Fish Eagle, a Lesser Adjutant or maybe a Mangrove Whistler is always a possibility ~ as is the unforgettable sight of the most secretive great cat in the world.
Birding is difficult not just because of the terrain but also because the density is not evident from the limited view one gets from a noisy boat. The fringes of Sundarbans play host to many local endemics and the visitor is well advised to spend time on land outside the core area before venturing into the heart of the National Park. Once inside the Park, the only access to land is at the Sajnekhali compound and the various Watchtowers you can visit. Remember that the watchtowers are inside wire cages and do not allow you to stroll in tiger-land.
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