My Sunderbans trip happened twice: once with a lover and once with my family. As you can imagine, for the first time, I was very young, giddy in love, and observed absolutely nothing. It was wrong in all senses. I dressed inappropriately, behaved culturally inappropriately, and did not do justice to one of the most intriguing places in the world.

Waiting at Godkhali to board our boat

Sunderbans trip during monsoon

On my second Sunderbans trip – something that happened after nearly 18 years – I was a quieter, wiser, and more observant person. I took in the sights and sounds, the smells, and the feelings. The colours of a place that vanished and appeared twice a day were extraordinary and the heat was so intense that I felt as if I was melting. There was rain too since it was monsoon – different kinds of rains: some slanting vicious ones with drops that were as sharp as needles, some brief deluges that seemed like a waterfall from the sky; and occasionally some showers that were soft, silvery, and floating. These were accompanied by winds of different strengths, thunder, and lightning and once again I was struck by the magical colours of the place.

Look at the patterns on the river formed by rain

The colours of the delta

These colours were volatile, brilliant, and multi-hued. There were the emerald and neon green of the forests; the most gorgeous sea-green of the water, and a sort of grayish gold of the mud banks. Then were browns of the mangrove shoots, of the sturdy bodies of the locals of the ´matir desh´ (as Sunderbans is locally known), and their simple houses. The skies were always dramatic, irrespective of whether they were powder blue or a brooding steel grey and we even had an amazing sunset as well as a rainbow.

The colours of Sunderbans trip

Sights of our Sunderbans trip

During our Sunderbans trip, we saw boats of all kinds. Large beached boats – their wooden hulks lying on the banks like whales, boats ferrying people, animals, and goods; islands inhabited by people and others that were homes to animals; and strange, vast river confluences called mohonas. Nature ran wild there (pun intended). We saw multi-coloured crabs scurrying into holes in the mud, strange-looking flowers of brilliant hues, golden arrow-like deers, and as luck would have it, even a tiger. It padded out from one of the hundreds of small islands that dot the delta, looked left and right, and swam across the narrow creek to the other island – just like that and we watched in awe, holding our breaths. All this happened in just 3 days and 2 nights.

The pleasure of a guided group cruise

For the first time, I left my prejudice against mass tourism aside and was on a guided group Sunderbans trip. It was nice to have someone else be in charge of the travel arrangements and it was a pleasant (and inexpensive) experience. Our company was a mixed bag, the facilities were excellent and the food was amazing. I ate my favourite Bengali dishes, relaxed, read, spent quiet time with my mother, and took in my surroundings. Overall, I enjoyed myself very much. Here is a photo essay of the Sunderbans trip. These are guaranteed to make you want to pack your bags and leave.

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