Last January we four friends arranged a tour to Sunderban leaving aside our busy days. Our plan was formatted within a very short time. One public holiday was there near to the weekly one and we used the opportunity to cover a four day tour. As incidentally I am of Khulna origin so we choked up an economy plan. We started from Dhaka at evening from air port train station to get the essence of a journey by train. Reaching to Khulna in the morning we came to our home to be fresh and got breakfast. Earlier I contacted Shahin a photo journalist and associated with forest dept for their video coverage to manage permission for Sunderban entry. Due to his position he could easily manage the permission with one step ahead to make the voyage by using one forest launch MV BONOMALI.
Our passion and the supporting environment were running parallel. The forest launch was destined for a three day night voyage particularly for a team from Dhaka university botany dept. They were to conduct some experiments on the mangrove forest, salinity and the harmful affect on the forest itself. We were not concerned with the science but the scientist was surely adorable to us for his generosity to allow us to be in the ship. There were two forest guards with fire arms, one chef with his assistant, Shahin the photographer, the Sareng (captain) and we four friends. Boat started just at 11.00 AM.
Dhangmari , the gate way of Sunderban
All the way we had been enjoying the panorama and once it reached the gate way of Sunderban named Dhangmari we discovered a serene beauty what we never witnessed. I can only compare the beauty as heavenly as none is there parallel I saw before. Scientist forgot his assignment, we forgot to talk to each other and even express the cheering. The boat with low noise slowly was advancing slitting the calm water of the river. Ripples were spreading towards the bank making an angular shape. Reflecting the golden focus of sun set from calm water of the river. We are speechless.
Monkeys are tearing leaves and deers are taking, so glamorous!
Suddenly some noise and Shahin’s call brought us in the worldly surroundings. Shahin guided and we also looked at the bank and found so many monkeys on trees and some deer less in number to the monkeys, wow! We didn’t expect so early we would find deer. The boat slowly moves and caused no disturb to them. What we read in our boyhood that we saw, monkeys tearing leaves and deer are taking, so glamorous. Mean time it was evening. Scientist asked the guide the area where he wants to get down to find samples of the trees dyeing. Is this only salinity or other root cause there, this is his subject for experiment. No harm, let him do for the forest and let us enjoy the forest.
Dacoits are more dangerous than tigers in jungle
Boat anchored at one convenient and safe area. Guide told us dacoits are more dangerous than tigers in jungle. This added a double climax on our thoughts. They affirmed us that robbers don’t come to forest boat and more over we are gunned so no risk there. We carried from Khulna enough snacks and the food stuffs to cook. Chef prepared tea and offered with snacks and started cooking for supper. This forest boats are very modern equipped with beautiful cabins, freezer, electricity etc. We enjoyed the moonlit night sitting on the deck and the nocturnal beauty of the forest, a huge mystery in side.
Meeting with the Royal Bengal Tiger
We were not feeling to go for sleeping rather sitting on the deck the gentle breeze just covered us with a calm and cool sense of comfort. At around 2 o’clock mid night we buzzed, let’s go for sleeping as tomorrow will be the day to explore more of the jungle mystery. Suddenly we got a bad smell in the air. I knew this odor only comes from the majestic tiger. I told my friends and kept them vigilant into the jungle. We heard a sound like chasing or rush in the darkness of the jungle and within a minute before taking the second breath we saw what we use to see in animal planet channel. The bore just rushed out to the river bank and in split of a second the Royal Bengal Tiger jumped out to catch him by neck and fled into the dark jungle. Still the dragging sound remained for some seconds while the gorgeous animal disappeared with his prey.
This is merely a luck to find a tiger in the forest safely. The honey collectors (moual) and the axe men (bawali) they do not want to see the tiger as there happens regularly sad killing of these professionals by the jungle protectors the tigers. We were over there for next two days and enjoyed the serene beauty from top to the bottom but we fulfilled our bag on the very first night only.
Idea for travellers who want to visit Sunderbans
Now for those who want to visit Sunderban may have some idea for conducting a journey. You could contact BPC (Bangladesh Porjoton Corporation) and can find from there so many package tour agents and deal with them for a package tour. Other option is to go to Khulna by bus or train, then to get permission from forest office. There are boats destined from Khulna also but going to Mongla from there also small launch available for the guided tour.
Editor’s note: Recommended Reading: The Lawachara Rain Forest: Where Wildlife Can Breathe Safely