(October 25, 2014) Kolkata and arrival at Sundarbans
We’ll leave Kolkata early in the morning to go to Sundarbans,
where we’ll live in nature the rest of the day. Before, I expect taking
advantage of the hotel’s location to see the British buildings around,
which are main monuments of this city, formerly known as Calcutta.
The garden area where these buildings are
opens at 5:30 AM.
The spots marked at map are:
0- Hotel New Kenilworth
1- Victoria Memorial
2- Saint Paul's Cathedral
3- Birla Planetarium
We go to the street at 6:30 AM for the walk we’ve
the location of this hotel instead of sleeping close to the airport,
which had been better for yesterday and for being picked up this
There is a lot of live in the streets at these early hours and we see
again the typical yellow taxis of this city. We pass by the statue to
Indira Gandhi and reach the big park area, full of people doing sports
or Tai Chi.
The military man at Victoria Memorial’s entrance points us to
ticket box, where we get two tickets by 20 Rs. I think it is even
cheaper, but we’re not going to complain for a few cents.
It is quiet inside. The monuments are clean, but lonely. They’re coming
from the British colonialism, when Calcutta was the capital city.
We’ve seen the building and the Queen Victoria statues but we
cannot find the way to the church. When I ask I’m pointed to the exit
at the side of this area, so we take it, but now we’re at the road side
and still cannot see it. Some pedestrians point across the road, but I
can only see part of its tower through the trees and cannot see a way
to get in there.
Anyway, our time is over. We come back to the hotel to enjoy
buffet breakfast just before checking out and being picked up ten
minutes later than scheduled: 8 AM.
Once we leave the city behind we take a road between lines
of trees which is addressing directly to the gateway to Sundarbans, as
our driver tells.
But it’s a three hours’ drive through Bengala’s rural areas. The time
is not due to the long distance but to the speed average for this sort
of roads, which it’s in good tarmac conditions, but it’s full of people
and animals to avoid.
I ask about the chimneys we can see in lots above the rice
plantations and we’re explained they’re coming from the brick factories.
We have a bag with breakfast we’ve been given when get in the
car, but we haven’t opened yet as we’re coming from the hotel buffet.
Even with this, we stop by a hut in a small village introduced as Tea
House. We take one tea, which milk is coming from the two small cows we
have at our side. It’s all natural here!
The end of the road is marked by a lot of vehicles, stopped and
moving. We’re delivered at this point and, while waiting, we take our
delayed breakfast. Then someone comes to take us to the quay to meet
the boat where we’re going to spend the most of today and tomorrow.
We take our seat in a table with a man and his son and wait for
the rest of the tour group in a chat with them and looking the
continuous movement of boats and people around this place. We leave
around 12 PM.
We’re sailing through river islands which all of them are looking
inhabited. Our cameras keep getting beautiful and peculiar images of
the local live.
When the boat stops in one of these islands for goodies we have
our first sight of mudskippers, a peculiar animal looking as a small
fish with front legs, which are plentiful in this area. As the tide is
going down the mud surface grows.
At 2PM the lunch appears. It is cooked in the boat, in the lower floor
for the staff. There are big portions of delicious food which we served
in a buffet style.
The boat approaches to the shore every time there
is an option of animal sightseeing. We can see a monkey and a pack of
deer through the brush.
It’s around 3 PM when we stop in the island where the staff lives which is going to be our home for tonight.
We’re assigned a bungalow. It’s quite basic, but a lot better than I expected in so remote place.
After leaving our baggage and resting for a few minutes we go out
as they’re going to show us the village and the local live. Then we
sail to watch the sunset in Sundarbans.
But before, the boat stops by a dessert island where we can go down and
get a better look of the mangrove enjoying and playing with the mud at
our feet. I can see two crabs in the trunk of a thin tree which are
trying to avoid being seen by following my moves to always be behind
the trunk. It is fun. I can see big mudskippers here too.
The floor is always looking unfriendly here as it has what looks
like spikes, but they’re really green and soft sprouts covered by mud,
which give way easily to our bare feet.
It’s been a different and funny experience and, with it, the dark comes. We take our dinner back to the village.
We only are out of our bungalow one more time to watch a
performance form the local people about the myth of tiger with Goddess
Durga. The performance has a surprisingly good quality for so isolated
place. We cannot understand a word but, as in the opera, the feelings
are easily understandable.