Established as a National Park in 1984 and declared a Biosphere Reserve in the year 1989, the Saundarbans National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site spread over 1330.12 square kilometer core area in the Sundarbans Delta Region in the Indian State of West Bengal. The average altitude of this Park is 7.5 meters above sea level, and is made up of 54 small islands crisscrossed by several distributaries of the River Ganges pouring out into the Bay of Bengal. It is the largest estuarine mangrove forests in the world composed of salt water mixed forests, mangrove scrub, brackish-water mixed forest, littoral forest, wet forest and alluvial grass forests.
Rainfall in these regions is heavy, with humidity as high as 80%, mostly during the months of mid-June to mid-September each year. A region of transition between the freshwater of the Ganges to the saline water of the Bay of Bengal, Sundarbans is a unique eco-system spread across two countries, and which is one of the last preserves of the Bengal Tiger and a major site of the Tiger Preservation Project. The mangrove vegetation of the Sundarbans consists of 64 plant species capable of withstanding estuarine conditions and saline inundation. Most common of these trees and plants include the Genwa, Kankra, Dhundal, Passur, Garjan, Sundari and Goran.
The Sundarbans Forest is presently home to over 400 Royal Bengal Tigers who have developed a unique characteristic of swimming in these saline waters, and are also famous for their man-eating tendency. The other animals sighted in the Park include Fishing Cats, Macaques, Wild Boar, Common Grey Mongoose, Fox, Jungle Cats, Flying Fox, Pangolin and Chital which are found in large numbers. A large number of reptilian species dwelling within the Park includes Estuarine Crocodiles, Chameleons, Water Monitors, Hard Shelled Batgun Terrapins, Mouse Geckos, Monitor Lizards, Cuviar’s Dwarf Caiman & the Olive Ridley, Hawksbill & Green Turtles. The Snakes sighted here include Pythons, King Cobra, Rat Snake, Vipers and Kraits. The aqua fauna includes Sawfish, Butterfish, Electric Rays, Star Fish, King Crabs, Prawns, Shrimps, Gangetic Dolphins, Toads and Frogs. There are 248 bird species recorded within the Park which include Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Storks, Green Pigeons, Sand Pipers, Large and Small Spoonbills, Darters, Seagulls, Teal, Partridges and a great variety of Wild Geese and Ducks.
September to March is the best time to explore the Sundarbans National Park. Dum-Dum Airport at Kolkata is the closest and from here National Highway No. 34 directly connects with the Park. Canning is the closest Railway Station at a distance of 48 kilometers and Gosaba is the nearest town on the periphery of this National Park.