The Khulna division borders the Indian state of West Bengal to the west, the Rajshahi Division to the north, the Dhaka and Barisal Divisions to the east, and has a coastline on the Bay of Bengal to the south. It is part of the Ganges River delta or Greater Bengal Delta.
Khulna is the third largest city in Bangladesh. It is located on the banks of the Rupsha and Bhairab rivers in Khulna District. It is the divisional headquarter and a major industrial and commercial center of Khulna Division. It has a seaport named Mongla on its outskirts, 38 km from Khulna City, which is one of the largest and most important ports of Bangladesh. The population of the city is about 14.47 million.
The city is 333 km southwest of Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, to which it is connected by air, road, train and water. It lies south of Jessore and Narail, East of Satkhira, West of Bagerhat and North of the Bay of Bengal. It is part of the largest delta in the world. In the southern part of the delta lies the Sundarban, the world's largest mangrove forest and the best attraction of this division for tourists.
Main Tourist Spots in Khulna Division
Sundarban - The Magical MangroveSundarban is one of the best, one of the most attractive and fascinating places for the travelers from around the world, along with the local people from Bangladesh. Being the largest mangrove forest of the world and having an extra ordinary biodiversity, this forest is the point of interests for almost all adventurous travelers from Bangladesh and people from all around the world. The name Sundarban can be literally translated as “beautiful forest” in the Bengali language (Shundor, “beautiful” and ban, “forest”). The name may have been derived from the Sundari trees that found in Sundarbans in large numbers.
Sundarban is situated at the mouth of the great Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers and it is shared by India and Bangladesh, however Bangladesh holds the two-third of the whole forest. The forest covers 10,000 sq kilometers of the delta, two-thirds of this lies within Bangladesh’s borders. A large number of foreigners come to Bangladesh every year only to visit this unique mangrove forest. Besides, local tourists also go to visit Sundarban.
About a third of the Sundarban Forest area is covered by a complex network of tidal creeks, mudflats and small islands, and the entire forest is subject to tidal inundation. Sundarban, Bangladesh’s only protection against tidal surges and annual cyclones, has the highest biodiversity of any mangrove forest in the world.
Apart from its aesthetics and biodiversity, Sunderban is a pride for Bangldesh. It heightens the national pride and glory of this nation to the worlds, as it is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The vast biodiversity of Sundarban makes it very much tempting for its visitors. Specially the bold and adventurous persons find it very alluring to explore all it has. A vast range of large trees, lead by Sundari tree, the rivers crossing through the forest, the mist and aesthetics of the mangrove forest offer the beauty seekers true source of joy and beauty. On the other hand the wildlife it contains, ranging from the fearsome crocodiles, to the beautiful deer ad thousands of birds and most enthralling, exciting Royal Bengal Tigers provide the bold and adventurous souls a lot to pursuit and explore.
The Sundarbans cover an area of 38,500sq km, of which about one-third is covered in water. The forests aren’t just mangrove swamps though; they include some of the last remaining stands of the mighty jungles, which once covered the Gangetic plain.
Wildlife photography including photography of the famous Royal Bengal Tiger, wildlife viewing, boating insides the forest will call recordings, nature study, meeting fishermen, wood-cutters and honey-collectors, peace and tranquility in the wilderness, seeing the world’s largest mangrove forest and revering beauty.
Since 1966 the Sundarban has been a wildlife sanctuary, and it is estimated that there are now 400 Royal Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area. Sundarban is home to many different species of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and fishes. Over 120 species of fish and over 260 species of birds have been recorded in the Sundarban. The Gangetic River Dolphin (Platanistagangeticus) is common in the rivers. No less than 50 species of reptiles and eight species of amphibians are known to occur. No wonder, you may come across a Royal Bengal Tiger swimming across the streams or crocodiles basking on the riverbanks.
Its beauty lies in its unique natural surrounding. Thousands of meandering streams, creeks, rivers and estuaries have enhanced its charm. Migratory flock of Siberian ducks flying over thousands of sail boats loaded with timber, golpatta (round-leaf), fuel wood, honey, shell and fish further add to the serene natural beauty of the Sundarbans.
This is indeed a land for the botanists, the nature lovers, the poets, the painters and also the ordinary holiday makers who desire to rest or wander around at will to refresh their mind and feast their eyes with the rich treasures that nature has so fondly bestowed. You will feel the same or similar when you will visit this majestic forest and after you retun to your home, you wish to return here again and again.
Travel Information - How to Get There:
Water transport is the only means of communication for visiting the Sundarbans from Khulna or Mongla Port. Private motor lunch, speedboats, country boats as well as mechanized vessel of Mongla Port Authority might be hired for the purpose. Usually it takes 6 to 10 hours journey by motor vessel from Mongla to Hiron Point or Katka. But it varies depending on tides against or in favor in the river. From Dhaka visitors may travel by air, road or rocket steamer to Khulna – the gateway to the Sundarbans. Most pleasant journey from Dhaka to Khulna is by Rocket Paddle Steamer, presenting a picturesque panorama of rural Bangladesh. Day and night coach services by road are available. The quickest mode is by air from Dhaka to Jessore and then Khulna by road.
Permit is necessary:
Permission from the Forest Department is required for all visitors to enter the forest. Required entrance fees for visitors, vessel or boat are payable at the relevant forest station/range office. If you visit the forest with Royal Tours Bangladesh, we will take care of all the necessary paperwork.
To feel the beauty of Sundarban you will have to go inside the forests and visit at least the most common tourist spots, specially the four-heritage side of Katka, Hiron point, Mandarbaria and Kachhikhali. It will be minimum two nights’ stay in Sundarban to visit these spots and if you are in a group you can ask your tour operator to make it three, four or five nights’ tour packages as per your desire to invent the real beauty of Sundarban. In the visit, all the way you will have to go by tourist launch and spend your night also in the launch as no hotel or motel facilities are available there inside Sundarban. In this tour your food and water will be supplied from the tourist launch only by us. So to visit the great Sundarban you will have to decide in advance how many days you want to spend in the forest - accordingly your tour operator will arrange and preserve your food and water. During the tourist season (October to March) we offer all-inclusive guided package tours from Dhaka to Sundarban, including return journey to Dhaka.
Special notes for the tourists
Best tourist season and Shooting:
The Sundarban Forest offers visitors spectacular sights and experiences all year round. Best time to visit the Sundarbans is October to March (winter), when the sun is mild and pleasant. Hunting is prohibited by law in the country for the preservation of wildlife. Certain species of birds, however, can be shot with prior permission of the Divisional Forest Officer, Khulna.
Climate in the Sundarbans is moderate, though air is humid. Full monsoon is from June to September. The annual rainfall averages between 65” and 70”. During ebb tide the forest becomes bare by 6-7 feet and at high tide (30 miles an hour) the entire territory of the forest floods with water.
Life in Forest:
Only means of transportation inside the forest is boat. There is no road, no trail of a path anywhere. The woodcutters make temporary dwellings at the edge of the forest at a height of 8-10 feet for fear of wild animals, others live on boats. In the Chandpai region it is fascinating to see the nomadic fishermen living with families on boats and catching fish with the help of trained offers. Exciting activities take place in Dublar Char in the forest where fishermen from Chittagong gather for four months (mid Oct. to mid Feb.) to catch and dry fish. But the most daring and exciting of all activities is presented by the honey-collectors who work in groups for just two months (April-May) and it is interesting to see how they locate a hive and then collect honey.
Flora and Fauna:
The Sundarban is endowed by nature with rich flora and fauna of hundreds of types, variations and beuty. It is a wonderful place to see or shoot a Royal Bengal Tiger with camera if one has the time to wait in the forest. There are a good number of tigers in the Sundarbans. Lovely spotted deer are easy to find. Besides there are a wide variety of wildlife on offer. For all these diversity of flora and fauna Sundarban is so famous.
Visit to the Forest:
Permission from the Division Forest Officer, Khulna is required to visit to the forest. Cholera vaccine is to be taken well in advance. Anti-malarial, anti-diarrheal, insect repellent cream, drinking water, green coconuts, medical kit, light tropical dress, thick rubber soled boots etc. are to be carried with the tourist. It will be wise to take the help of an experienced guide to make the journey fruitful.
The main tourist spots in Sundarban are Karamjol, Kochikhali, Hiron point and Mandarbari. Hiron Point (Nilkamal) is for tigers, deer, monkeys, crocodiles, birds and natural beauty.Katka is for deer, tigers, crocodiles, varieties of birds and monkeys, morning and evening symphony of wild fowls. Vast expanse of grassy meadows running from Katka to Kachikhali (Tiger Point) provides opportunities for wild tracking. Tin Kona Island is for tigers and deer.
Katka is one of Heritage sites in Sundarban. In Katka there is a wooden watching tower of 40 ft. high from where you can enjoy the scenic beauty of Sundarban.
A beautiful sea beach is there is Katka - you will enjoy while you are walking to go the beach from the watching tower. Thus, in Katka, you can enjoy the beach and the Magical Mangrove at the same time that leaves this place very special while you are on Sundarban. Also, a large variety of birds are on offer to watch and enjoy here.
Hiron Point is another world heritage site of Sundarban. You can enjoy the beauty of wildlife, specially dotted deer, walking and running in the forest.
There are also two other Heritage sites in Sundarban - one is Kochikhali and the other is Mandarbaria. At both of these places you will find deer and birds. If you lucky you can see the Great Royal Bengal Tiger in full. But if you are not that lucky, at least you will see the stepping of Great Royal Bengal Tiger here and there in these spots.
Karamjol is a forest station for the Rangers. Here you can see a deer breeding center. Here you can visit the outer portion of Sundarban forest areas.
Sundarban is a heaven for bird watchers. In your Sundarban tour you will be able to see lots of varieties of birds. You can watch the fishing in the river by the fishermen, if you wish you can ask your tour operator to give a stopover in the fishermen villages to watch their lifestyle, see lots of animals like monkeys, various types of deer, foxes, crocodiles, snakes, and if you are lucky person you will be able to see the greatest mystery of Sundarban – The Royal Bengal Tiger. Sundarban is one of the main sources to collect pure honey, so you should not forget to buy some pure honey.
Mongla Port, the second largest port of Bangladesh, is located 48 km south of Khulna town. The port was developed initially about 18 km up at Chalna, which was opened to foreign vessels as an anchorage on 11 December 1950. The anchorage was shifted to Mongla in 1954 as the place could accommodate sea-going vessels with greater draughts. The port of Mongla retained its name Chalna for a long period of time. Mongla is situated on the confluence of the rivers Pasur and Mongla at mouza Selabunia of Rampal upazila of Bagerhat district. In this country’s economy Mongla Port plays a vital role as it is a gateway of shipping, business for Bangladesh with all over the world. There are a good number of prawn hatcheries in Mongla.
Activities we offer
- Exploring narrow creeks by silent country boat and observing wildlife up close
- Walking on the beautiful, unspoiled sandy beaches along the Bay of Bengal
- Trekking through the mangrove forest
- Participation to ongoing Research activities
- Presentations offered by Nature Guides
- Evening film show
- Mud baths and refreshing swims
- Whale and dolphin Watching
Our itineraries are based on Dhaka to Khulna travel and include well accommodation and excellent cuisine and other facilities to make the tours more meaningful, enjoyable, attractive and at the same time as comfortable as possible. Departure dates of our tours are announced in advance, making it easy for individuals to join on convenient dates. All our tours are accompanied by knowledgeable and experienced multi-lingual Nature Guides.
Exclusive tours for private groups, institutions and corporate bodies, which can be combined with research, onboard meetings, training sessions or workshops, can be arranged at any time if we are informed accordingly.
Dubla Rash PurnimaMela
(Dependant on Lunar Calendar, normally beginning of November)
Dubla Island, situated at the mouth of the Holy River Ganges, is inhabited by fishermen during months of the winter. They are joined by thousands of Hindu pilgrims for the annual Rash Mela, the festival of the Rash full moon. After joyous celebrations and fair activities the night before, the devotees congregate in long lines at the water’s edge in the early morning hours, holding their offerings and awaiting their blessing. This tour is a special treat for photographers and travelers interested in local traditions and festivals.
Honey Collection (April – June)This is one of the most fascinating sights for the tourists while exploring Sundarban as honey collection includes very daunting activities. So, to watch the collectors to collect honey is very exciting and adventurous. After watching the official opening ceremony of the annual Honey collection season in Burigoalini, we follow a group of honey collectors to the western part of the forest and join their search for precious honey – a livelihood that has survived through the centuries. This is a physically demanding tour, but unique and unforgettable – A true adventure in the Land of the Tiger.
Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour (December – February)
Join our special trip to the Swatch of No-Ground, a deep underwater canyon in the Bay of Bengal. Aboard a sea-going fishing trawler we travel to the edge of the Swatch, where an amazing color-change indicates the drop-off. Here marine mammals congregate, as the food supply is plentiful. So far six dolphin and two whale species have been recorded in the coastal and off-shore waters of Bangladesh.
Our current research focuses on systematically recording all cetacean sightings and related data as well as establishing a photo database for bottlenose dolphins. It is possible to combine this expedition with our regular Sundarban tours.
Bird-watching ToursBangladesh is situated on the cross-path of two major migratory flyways. The coastal areas, including Sundarban Forest, are important breeding, resting and feeding places for a large variety of resident and migratory birds. Sundarban is a heaven for bird watchers as it offers a large variety of bird species.
We spend a major part of the day in the comfortable, silent country boat exploring small creeks and channels. With your observations you can help map nesting sites and update the avifauna species list for Sundarban.
Fishing with Trained Otters
This unique traditional fishing technique is only found in Bangladesh. Fishermen from the Narail/Gopalganj area breed and train their otters to increase the catch. Although they mainly work in the rivers north of the forest, they also enter the Sundarban forest. This tour will start in their home villages and follow the fishermen to Sundarban.
While you are on the South-Bengal, that means mainly Khulna division, Bagerhaat is another place you would not want to miss. It is a district of Khulna division. Unesco-protected Bagerhaat has the more ancient mosques and mausoleums than anywhere else in Bangladesh. But the main attraction is the ShaitGombuj or sixty-dome mosque. It is the largest and most magnificent traditional mosque in the country. Around the 60-domed mosque are three other smaller, single domed mosques namely Bibi Begni’s Mosque, Chunakhola Mosque and Singar Mosque. About 2 km east of the ShaitGombuj mosque is the splendid Ronbijoypur Mosque. It has the largest dome in Bangladesh, spanning 11 meters and supported by 3 meters thick walls.
On the western bank of the Thakur Dighi pond is the Nine-domed mosque. It has an impressive structure with mihrabs embellished with terracotta floral scrolls and foliage motifs, with a prominent chain and bell terracotta motif in the center. Just north of the 9-domed mosque is the Zinda Pir Mosque.
A popular pilgrimage site in Bagerhat is the Khan Jahan Ali’s mazhar/ tomb. Khan Jahan Ali was one of the most respected men in Bangladeshi history and provided a significant support for Islam in Bangladesh. It is the only monument that has retained its original domed ceilings. The cenotaph at the entrance is covered with tiled of various colors and inscribed with Quranic verses. The out-front pond has a couple of sweet water crocodiles. There is also a single-domed mosque known as the Dargah Mosque.
Royal Tours Bangladesh is one of the latest and modern private tour operators in Bangladesh. Our long standing tradition of excellent, professional service for local and foreign travelers is well known and respected. We have been operating tours to the Sundarban Forest for last six years. We aim towards providing environmental friendly tourism and support research projects to benefit this unique habitat. We provide logistic support to filmmakers, photographers or TV teams for documentary films on the Sundarban Forest and related aspects. Being the most experienced tour operator in the Sundarban Forest, we are aware of our senior position as a role model. Conservation of this fragile eco-system is our credo; we are working together with national institutions, local communities, scientists and researchers towards raising awareness, sustainable use of forest resources and responsible tourism.
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