The cluster of mangrove-covered islands known as the Sundarbans or “beautiful forest”, lie in the Ganges Delta, stretching east from the mouth of the Hooghly to Bangladesh. They are home to the legendary Royal Bengal tiger, which has adapted remarkably well to this watery environment, swimming from island to island and covering distances of as much as 40km in one day. The region has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its abundant wildlife also includes saltwater crocodiles, Gangetic dolphins, otters and monitor lizards. All the half-million or so people sharing this delicate ecosystem, regardless of religion, worship Banbibi, the goddess of the forest, and her Muslim consort Dakshin Rai, supreme ruler of the Sundarbans.

Along with a crocodile and turtle hatchery, the Project Tiger compound at Sajnekhali also houses a shrine to Banbibi. There is a watchtower here, but others like Dobanki, where an aerial walkway skirts the top of the mangroves, and Netidhopani, which sits near the ruins of a four-hundred-year-old temple, are far more attractive. As getting to the Sundarbans on your own is a laborious process, you might want to opt for an all-inclusive package tour. Be aware, though, that tiger sightings are rare.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

India features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

25 years and 10 editions: The Rough Guide to India over the years

25 years and 10 editions: The Rough Guide to India over the years

It's 25 years since an adventurous quartet of Rough Guides authors set off for the Subcontinent to begin work on researching the inaugural instalment of The Rou…

30 Nov 2016 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
The most romantic places in India

The most romantic places in India

India has to be one of the world's most romantic destinations. Its beguiling mix of ancient forts, pretty palaces, shimmering lakes and gorgeous beaches is boun…

25 Nov 2016 • Freya Godfrey camera_alt Gallery
13 tips for backpacking India

13 tips for backpacking India

Whether you’re hurtling along in a rickshaw, eating fantastic curries, kicking back on the backwaters or hiking in the mountains, backpacking India will alwa…

23 Nov 2016 • Helen Abramson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month