Oh, what an experience! Surely an amazingly serene one!
I always dreamt of going to the Sunderbans and then finally it became a reality. Most of my followers on Instagram would know how excited I have been regarding this trip. I am always excited about exploring new places.
Sundarbans has been on the list forever and finally, I have happily ticked it off.
Here is my travel itinerary for you – I took a local train from Sealdah station to Canning. From the station, local buses or Tata Magic vans are available to go to Godkhali (always packed with locals). Then, I take a local ferry boat from Godkhali to Gosaba. This ride cost INR 2 and trust me, I was overjoyed at the inexpensive modes of transport. Next was a machine van ride to Jotirampur boat ghat. There are also auto-rickshaws available at the same cost of INR 17. As I was travelling solo, I had to make a call to the Eco-village for them to come to get me in one of their boats. Once I crossed the river over to Satjelia island, I had reached my destination – Eco-village.
Surely it was a fun ride. Hot summer afternoons and late evenings aren’t really an ideal time to travel as the place are quite remote and everyone pulls their shutters down soon after dark. The journey took me 5 hours in total, but if you happen to book their package tours, they have pick-up and drop-off facilities included. Eco-village lives up to its name. As soon as I stepped into the campus, the breeze rustling through the pine leaves calmed my tired body and soul.
A small pond with lotus flowers and a little pony – Lucy, in her stable, greets you as you enter the village. When you walk inside you will see an array of animals including cattle, ducks, hens etc.
If you are fortunate enough you will also see some exotic birds visiting you and singing for you. One will be mesmerised by the natural beauty that this place has to offer. This place is surrounded by various trees, providing natural shelter. They cultivate sustainable food and vegetables for everyone staying in and around the village and help each other to get different varieties of produce on the table. You will breathe fresh air, and eat healthy organic food during your stay. If you like fishing you can try to catch some. The veggies served during lunch and dinner are incredibly fresh and tasty that I could probably eat my fingers off as well. I used to stuff myself with all 3 meals, tea and snacks during my stay.
The place is run by local village men and women, mainly providing employment to the local women, who are either widowed or abandoned by their families. They really made me feel like I was one of their own.
During my stay, I was allotted a mud house and the earthy smell captured my heart. Natural light and air were just more than sufficient. Even when the outside temperature rocketed, it was pleasant inside the room. There was very limited furniture inside the room and all of them were handcrafted by the villagers using natural materials like bamboo, straws etc.
They have about 10 mud houses of different shapes and sizes, all with attached bathrooms. Every one of them was different from the other and was decorated with different art forms.
There is so much to do during your stay here. You can plant some trees and get your hands on the vegetation and the cultivation process. The farmers explain where the food on your plate comes from. The hard work that each and every villager goes through daily to provide for our needs in the city, is what you will feel grateful about.
As the evening sets in, the soothing temperature by the river will fill your heart with gratitude towards mother nature. Gradually as the sun sets, the silence takes over. The phrase -“The stars will guide you home”, is something that you will experience here. You can just lie on the green pastures and count the stars twinkling in the clear night sky.
Around 7 in the evening, they organise a cultural night by the villagers who come together to sing Baul song or the country music. They are not only keeping the authenticity of the village alive but also taking forward the art and culture of the land. These days, country music and folk music are not something that we are fond of, but it does connect us to our roots.
They also have other activities such as village walk, bird watching, jungle safari and boat rides at night. I opted for fishing and boat ride at night in the country boat.
Eco-Village will surprise you in a good manner every time by the way it lives up to the expectation of being an ecological village. I wouldn’t call this place a touristy place, but rather a home away from home. I had one of the best times of my life here. This place connected me back with my soul and it’s true that nature heals you in every way possible.
Humans behind the making of Eco Village! In conversation with Rajesh
You would know we are three brothers who started these trips. Ajay, Mowgli and myself Rajesh. We did many odd jobs in life and finally found peace in Sundarbans. Our passion for connecting with people got us going into this world. We went to explore the Sundarbans in 2005 and then people started asking us to bring them here on our trips. We started organising trips from 2006 and down the line, we felt the need for an authentic place at Sundarbans where we could stay, instead of a hotel or guest house. Hence we started working on the Eco-village in 2012. It was the need for such a place that got this Eco-village going. One gets to know rural Bengal, its farmhouse feel and the abundance of greenery around.
What are your plans?
No major plans; just evolving every day into a greener, more organic, more harmonizing lifestyle to share with the world.
What led you into this (Eco stay)?
The need to be as close as possible to nature. One needs to know about different kinds of living beings in close proximity. The coming together of like-minded people led to the creation of the Eco-village. We wanted to create a facility to make people connect to this beautiful part of the worlds, landscape the people, nature and finally themselves. We want people to see how easy and beautiful it is to live sustainably. It’s surprising how we find people of every stratum appreciating the beauty of Sundarbans and hence we would urge people to come and see how soulful this place can be. We stuck to one idea of using local materials and ideas as much as we can and we also invited people from all over the world to partake in this ‘cause’.
How many people can you accommodate?
We have a 100 people capacity at the Eco-village and in winters, people also stay on the boat. We have 4 boats which altogether can accommodate 20 people.
Each cottage is unique in its own way; we did not make similar looking cottages. They are all made out of mud, straws, bamboos etc. We have used natural resources to make these cottages, They are environment-friendly.
Activities offered in Eco-Village during your stay
We have bird watching in the country boat, village walk, night safari on the country boat and the day-long jungle safari into the tiger reserve.
They can’t assure you a sight of tiger or crocodile but they can assure you the scenic beauty that this place has to offer.
Interested people can go fishing in the pond and more enthusiast can go fishing into the river (we encourage people to learn and watch but allow only people who are well versed with fishing due to safety reasons). We have an open space for artists. Everyone is welcome to teach or exchange music, painting, art and craft with the villagers or with fellow travellers. Soon we will be getting pottery wheel for people to participate in that.
Normally we offer complete packages only from Kolkata.
Rates are as followed –
One night two days trip costs INR 4200 rs per person all inclusive.
Two nights three days trip costs INR 5500 rs per person all inclusive.
If people are just interested to come and stay at our Eco village then the room tariff is – 2000 rs for twin sharing, 2500 rs for triple sharing and 3000 rs for four people, per cottage. (Food and activities not included.)
We expect our visitors to take back an experience which is by far the most authentic one can come close to. The eco-village is not a made up tourist lodge, it is authentic in every way possible – real people working in harmony to give a completely unique experience of staying in rural Bengal and serenity of Sundarbans and we are calling out like-minded people to come, stay, learn, share and evolve.
Booking details – Sunderbans Eco Village