The Sundarbans Travel Guide

 

The Sundarbans  is the largest single block of tidal halophytic
mangrove forest in the world. The name Sundarban can be literally
translated as "beautiful jungle" or "beautiful forest" in the Bengali
language (Sundar, "beautiful" and ban, "forest" or "jungle"). The name
may have been derived from the Sundari trees that are found in
Sundarbans in large numbers. Alternatively, it has been proposed that
the name is a corruption of Samudraban
"Sea Forest") or Chandra-bandhe (name of a primitive tribe). But the
generally accepted view is the one associated with Sundari trees.

The forest lies at the feet of the Ganges and is spread across areas of
Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, forming the seaward fringe of the
delta. The seasonally-flooded Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests lie
inland from the mangrove forests. The forest covers 10,000 km2 of which
about 6,000 are in Bangladesh. It became inscribed as a UNESCO world
heritage site in 1997, but while the Bangladeshi and Indian portions
constitute the same continuous ecotope, these are separately listed in
the UNESCO world heritage list as the Sundarbans and Sundarbans
National Park, respectively. The Sundarbans is intersected by a complex
network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant
mangrove forests. The area is known for the eponymous Royal Bengal
Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), as well as numerous fauna including
species of birds, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes. It is estimated
that there are now 500 Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in
the area. Sundarbans was designated a Ramsar site on May 21, 1992. The
fertile soils of the delta have been subject to intensive human use for
centuries, and the ecoregion has been mostly converted to intensive
agriculture, with few enclaves of forest remaining. The remaining
forests, together with the Sundarbans mangroves, are important habitat
for the endangered tiger. Additionally, the Sundarbans serves a crucial
function as a protective flood barrier for the millions of inhabitants
in and around Kolkata (Calcutta) against the result of cyclone
activity.