It was my first journey of this type- expedition in the riverine coastline of a jungle- Sunderban. Sunderban (pronounced Shundor-bon) is named after the Sundari trees. It is a mangrove forest on islands in the Ganga Delta. It is a part of both India and Bangladesh 1,330.12 km2 (328,680 acres) in India alone. It is a home to more than 400 tigers of the Royal lineage( they are royal Bengal tigers). Tigers, unlike humans, have no boundary restrictions and keep traveling between both the neighboring countries. Staple rice and fish is the common diet of the poor who usually live in the region. Life is miserable here. People lack basic amenities. They are always in the pincer grip of fear because of the tigers which may have a hunt in their own village. There was a time when people used to enter deep forests for fishing. Only a few of the fishermen who went on such expeditions were lucky to see the next day. Life was such that women, when they bid farewell to their men to work, removed all the signs of marriage- the vermillion and the bangles. They were put on only when their husbands fortunately returned to their home (which was more or less like returning to life from death).
Conditions have certainly improved a lot from those days. Sunderban is now famous for its splendor and the regal beauty of the fauna that cherishes in it. I was awe-struck at the serene scenery that opened up around me as our launch entered the forest. Excitement and anxiety surrounded me as I searched for the royal mane that would be hiding under the golden leaves of a kind of mangrove tree. Unfortunately I could not pay homage to the princely creature. Yet, I payed homage at the temple of Bondevi( the Goddess of forest) who is always worshiped by the human-tiger devotee. And I also saw the muscular spotted deer peeping from the shade of the trees.