The Photo Story: The mystical mangroves of the Sunderbans

The tiger looks particularly spectacular against the backdrop of the verdant mangroves
Photographer: Shuvarthi Guha & Riddhi Mukherjee

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS: SHUVARTHI GUHA & RIDDHI MUKHERJEE

On the eastern coast of India, near the point where the holy Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal, lies a magical world rich in biodiversity and with a very unique ecosystem – the Sunderbans. Here, the secret meets the mystical, religions converge as the Hindu and Muslim pray to the same guardian spirit, Banobibi, and three of India’s most important rivers – the Ganga, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna – embrace each other.

This is the world’s largest estuarine forest, crisscrossed by hundreds of creeks and tributaries. Seemingly monotonous in its forest cover, the Sunderbans is deceptive, offering up its secrets only to those who take the time to get to know it.

The animals in this ecosystem are extremely elusive and display very different behavioural characteristics from their counterparts in other forests. And among these animals is the tiger. Each encounter with the striped cat is special; your knees tremble, your throat dries up – you know you are in the presence of something wondrous.

 

 

Irrawaddy dolphins are found near the coast and estuaries of the Bay of Bengal. Their forays on the water surface are short-lived – and spotting one will be a highlight
Photographer: Shuvarthi Guha & Riddhi Mukherjee
Otter are considered to be one of the prime indicators of a healthy environment, especially that of a river. The Sunderbans, with its great number of water bodies, is an ideal home for them to thrive in
Photographer: Shuvarthi Guha & Riddhi Mukherjee
The Sunderbans is famous for its many species of kingfisher, like this beautiful collared kingfisher
Photographer: Shuvarthi Guha & Riddhi Mukherjee

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