Saturday, November 27, 2021

Sundarbans Reserve Forest: Day 2 at the largest continuous mangrove forest in the world


                                                 Sundarbans Reserve Forest

Continued from my last post Sundarbans Reserve Forest: the largest continuous mangrove forest in the world

Day 2: We checked out of our hotel at 8 in the morning and got into our launch for our 2nd and last day at Sundarbans (yes, a very short trip:) Breakfast was prepared and served in the launch. Hot luchis (fried refined flour bread), aloo sabji (potato curry with gravy), and tea was the menu, and exactly what we needed to start the day with :)

Our first stop was Sajnekhali and this is the place where a permit is obtained to get into the reserve forest area. Sajnekhali has watch towers which provides  a good view of the mangrove forest a. We saw monkeys and river terrapins during our stop here. With the permit done, our launch ride continued through the waterways and it was evident that we were in the reserve forest area now. Our next halt was Dobanki where we walked through an enclosure and got an amazing view of the beautiful mangrove forest. From Dobanki, our launch took us even more into the interiors of the reserve forest, and into some of the narrowest channels and waterways in Peerkhali. Much to the delight of my nephew, this was his first visit to Sundarbans and his first experience of sighting a crocodile outside of a zoo, we finally saw a crocodile, deer, and pug marks! Yes, pug marks ( this time I was not that lucky:( could not sight a tiger and had to be content with pug marks this time)

Bird activity was remarkably low because of the high tide; we could not see any birds, other than a few sandpipers and egrets. Rest of the trip was generally a leisurely ride. We were happy to just be, and enjoy the natural and peaceful surroundings over another fresh and tasty lunch:)

Our trip ended with another brilliant sunset. There is nothing like a sunset amidst mangroves and water bodies, and of course a hot cup of tea. Life is good:)

Overall, it was a short and enjoyable trip with the family amidst natural surroundings.

A few recommendations from my experience of Sundarbans:

1. It is best to do Sundarbans by reserving a launch if you are a big group of 10-15. The experience is much better this way. You can customise everything and get the best out of your Sundarbans trip.

2. The best time to visit Sundarbans is from Jan-March. It is really nice then.

3. One caution though, if you have elderly people travelling with you, please let the travel agency know in advance so that they can provide necessary support to help the elderly in and out of the launch. It is a bit uncomfortable for people who have knee or joint problems to navigate their way into and out of the launch.

Here are some pictures from our Day 2.

                                                                                         These are know as tiger palms since these provide a great camouflage for tigers because of the colour
    Crocodile basking under the Sun, and ready to grab anything! Thankfully the deer was far away:)

      The picture above and on the right of River Terrapin is courtesy Soma Jha.

    Well, yes, these are pug marks...not so clear but that is all we could get!

   An old building near the resort we stayed in                      This old, non-functional church caught our                                                                                                                             eyes 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Sundarbans Reserve Forest: The largest continuous mangrove forest in the world

                                   Sundarbans Reserve Forest West Bengal, India

Finally went out for a short trip with the family after almost two years! What a relief to be able to start travelling again:)

We chose Sundarbans because of the short time it takes to reach Sundarbans from Kolkata. It was not my first visit but i like visiting Sundarbans anyway:). If you are in Kolkata, Sundarbans must be in your list of places to visit, especially if you like nature. It will take you approx. three hours by road from Kolkata to reach the closest point from where the launch journey to Sundarbans begins.

Day 1: We started around 9.30 am, and by the time we got  dropped off at Godkhali, it was almost 12.30 pm. 

Godkhali is one of the points from where you can get into a launch that will take you into the reserve forest. You can also reach Sundarbans from Canning. For us, Godkhali was the better option. Unlike any other safari, this one is entirely through waterways and on the boat, and that is one big difference which makes it such a unique experience. During the safari, there are points where you can get off the launch to view the jungles from the watch towers, and who knows if you are lucky spot a tiger as well:).

Within about 30 min of boarding we were provided with lunch. The meal was prepared in the boat itself. It was a simple and tasty meal of rice, dal (lentils), sabji (mixed veg gravy), sweet chutney, sweets, and fish /chicken for non-vegetarians. It was so nice to have freshly prepared meal while on board and enjoying the surroundings.

Our resort was a good three hours away (in an area by the name of  Pakhiralaya). The entire ride to the resort was so therapeutic. Water bodies are great stress busters, and there is something so beautiful about the mangrove forest. We saw an amazing sunset, experienced the beautiful evening and night fall at Sundarbans from the boat. We did not see any animals or birds since it was a bit late, but overall, it was such a beautiful experience. 

It was late in the evening by the time we got off the boat and to our resort. After refreshing ourselves we went to watch a dance show that the resort had organised, performed by the tribal women. It was a good way to get familiar with the culture of Sundarbans. To add to the niceness of the evening, the resort served us hot coffee/tea and snacks as well, all the while during the performance :)

We ended the day with another tasty dinner and feeling excited about experiencing more of Sundarbans the next day:)

 Sharing pictures from the day 1 here. I will continue with the day two at Sundarbans in my next post.

Our journey through the mangroves and the amazing sun set. 

Below is a short video of the general ambience of the evening/nightfall from the boat. We could hear the sounds of Kirtan from nearby villages.This video unfortunately has sounds of people talking as well, and I could not edit those sounds. This video is just to give you an idea of the ambience and serene surroundings.

The picture above is of  the resort we stayed in, and the right picture is of the tribal dance performance.

In the meanwhile, you may want to check out my other posts on Sundarbans below:

Monday, October 25, 2021

Durga Puja 2021, Salt Lake, Kolkata

Durga Puja 2021

It was Nabami and Durga puja was almost over....I wanted to make the most of the festive spirit and take a  look at some of the puja pandals nearby. Pandal hopping by maintaining social distance is not really feasible!

Somewhat possible in Salt lake though. And the best way to go pandal hopping is to walk and see the puja pandals. 

So off I went and it felt so normal (although wearing a mask was not normal but I am assuming that will stay for sometime) to go pandal hopping. The festive spirit can be so uplifting. 

Here are some pictures from my Nabami walk. The Durga pandals are from the GD, HA  and HC blocks in Salt Lake, and nearby ones.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Durga puja 2021, beautiful, artistic and so much more from South Kolkata, India

                               Durga puja 2021

Durga pujas have always been special to me. 2021 Durga pujas were even more so because I went out to see some pandals after a long time! I did not see any in 2020.

Not that I could see too many this time, I saw very few since I had to restrict myself given that the pandemic is still at large.The few pandals that I did mange to see were beautiful, creative, and had  a theme and message. It was a short tour of three hours. We started very early in the morning and ended our tour by indulging in piping hot and super delicious luchi and dal (Bengali style) from a sweet shop for breakfast. Pujas are incomplete without food...all Bengalis will agree with that for sure:)

Below are pics of  Durga puja pandals I saw in South Kolkata. As usual I was floored by these beautiful and creative idols and pandals. 

I hope next year things will be back to normal and I can go pandal hopping without any worries. I so miss that.

Happy Vijaya Dashami/ Dussehra to all of you:)

                                  The pandal is made like an old house, looks so genuine...does it not?

                                                          Food glorious food:)

Monday, October 4, 2021

The fascinating and Beautiful Bayon temple in Siem Reap Cambodia

       Bayon temple in Siem Reap Cambodia- The stone faces are so spectacular!

Day three started with the sunrise at Angkor wat , and then the complete tour of Angkor Wat temple. What a start to the day it was! After having ended the previous day with the beautiful sunset view from Phnom Bakheng temple, we were on a all time high:)

We spent quite a few hours at Angkor Wat (worth spending the whole day!), and then headed towards Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom literally means a big city and It used to the capital city of the Buddhist King Jayavarman VI.This city houses various temples and historical site, the ones we saw were:

Bayon temple

Baphuon temple

Terrace of the Elephants

and Terrace of the Leper King.

I was totally awestruck by Bayon temple. I have not seen any temple like this before. It is a huge temple and I could literally get lost in it.The exquisite and detailed carvings on the walls and the peaceful stone faces make this temple so unique. This temple is one of my favourites. If you are visiting Siem Reap, Please do not miss this temple, this one is a must do!

Built in the 12th to 13th century, Bayon was the state temple of the Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. Bayon is located in the centre of Angkor Thom City. This beautiful Buddhist temple went through  modifications from time to time based on the religious preferences of the kings who ruled after Jayavarman. This temple has an overpowering presence, especially if you see the stone faces and carvings on the walls, you will fall in love with this extraordinary temple.

I am sharing some of the pictures of Bayon temple with the beautiful carvings, and the stone faces...I hope this post could give you some idea about how extraordinary this temple is.

                          Way to Angkor Thom

                                                                                     Angkor Thom

              Bayon temple entrance

The spectacular carvings on the walls of Bayon are just out of the world!

I will take up the rest of the temples that we did in day three in my subsequent posts. Have a wonderful week ahead:)