“Allat!” Sundarban

মুস্তাফিজ's picture
Submitted by Mustafiz on Sat, 18/02/2012 - 3:02pm

Only a few tourists were lucky enough to be able to see a tiger face to face in Sundarban. Someone who has faced a tiger, I haven’t heard of him yet. But of course, every time I’ve been there I’ve heard of people who were attacked. Sometimes the dead body could be brought back, sometimes not. This time we heard of three attacks. All three were fresh attacks. Two came back dead, one survived badly injured. Every time there is an attack, Bappi-da (our guide) calls the newspaper. They print the news as fresh stories. The last one I’ve heard of was horrible. The shredded dead body was so badly mutilated that it had to be bundled in a towel to be taken to his home. The same trawler that carried the dead body came to rescue us from the middle of the river where we were stuck because the engine of our boat went dead. It came to us even before cleaning the vomit stains that the batman spewed on seeing the dead body.

I will always remember this tour for many incidents like this. We went to Dubla’r char to see the Raasmela*. We’ve heard so much of this fair but we had to come back before the fair with a broken heart. Actually, it’s better to stay at Sundarban to see Sundarban.

I am quite skeptic about the Sundarban tours with the tour companies. I mean, I was never quite satisfied with them. A tour with them is like a boat ride with lots of rules and regulations in it. So, I am more interested in finding out about new places through goggling and exploring them.

Today I’ll tell you a story full of fear, anxiety, courage and adventure. Hiron Point** is one of the elitist places among the forest areas. Hiron point in Sundarban is only 25 mile from Indian border. Apart from the forest office, a branch office of Mongla port and Navy camp is also there. The part of the forest at the north of the forest office across the river is called Kewrashuti. May be because of so many Kewra trees are there. The small area measuring only two miles by the east west and half a mile by the north south is encircled by the river. I found some specialties of the place while I googled about it. Like, there is a small sweet water pond at the middle with very little trees around it and stuffs like this. All of which indicates the presence of deer. Tiger should be there where deer is. Tour companies usually avoid this places, even our Bappida was also not very interested. He granted us only two hours in the early morning to roam the place, mostly due my stubbornness. In my numerous trips in the mangrove, the most beautiful pictures are from this place.

After being there, I decided to cut short the trip to Dubla’r char and spend some more time here. So, we left Dubla’r char before the beginning of the main program. The tide was already low at this point. I noticed that the water level sinking while Hiron Point was almost two kilometers away. Our trawler got stuck in the sand. There is no way of knowing that water is only two/two and half feet deep here. We figured out that it would take almost three hours for the next high tide. So, we stepped down in the water.

We had to tread through shoulder deep water to go to the place across Hiron point. That would take more time and the camera could get wet. So, we made a new plan. If we walk straight over the char and cross the forest, we will reach the tree-engulfed field behind the three offices. There was a sweet water pond, the helipad beside that and the pond of forest office right across that.

It shouldn’t take more than two and a half hours to take pictures and stroll up to there. Once they saw us, our guard Emdad and Rezaul also came down with rifles in their hand. We all bared our feet to step in the water. Small, sharp grass stung like thorns in our feet. It was a long and painful way. We walked cautiously. Sometimes deer passed by. We watch them or take pictures. We reached the edge of the forest like that. Emdad again reminded us the forest rules. Rezaul kept his rifle handy.

Kewraban was muddy and a bit runny. Emdad was in front of me, others were behind me and Rezaul was at the rear end. I stepped wherever Emdad stepped. It was less likely to be stung like that. It took half hour only to cross hundred meters. The port office could be seen at right and the tower was above. After a few steps, I called “Emdad?” He read my mind and agreed, “Right boss. It isn’t safe this way.” Although he came to Hiron Point, he has never been here yet. We considered my google knowledge and Emdad’s experience and decided that we will go by the thorny trees through west and reach the helipad. From there, we would turn to north. We explored according to that. Rezaul and one of us were just crossing the thorny trees then. Another guy with us said, “There might be deer near. Let me switch to my tele-lens.” I pointed a place ahead and said, “Do it there.” As he knelt down there, we heard the blood-chilling roar. It came from grassy land that was only around five yard to our left.

Many things happened simultaneously in a single moment. Emdad hollered “Allat!”(Not alert) and pointed the rifle. The camera was already pointed at the left, my right hand clicked it. The person beside me quickly knelt down with lens in one hand and camera in other. Two people behind us stood closer and Rezaul’s rifle moved toward the sound soundlessly. It seemed like something has moved. Then everything was silent. Even the air was mute. Emdad broke the silence and ordered “Walk forward fast. It’s gone.” I looked at the screen; it was only a picture of tall grass and plants. Seeing the footprint on the soil, Emdad said with expertise that it was an adult tiger, almost three and half feet tall. Still it hid itself so well that none of us noticed.
We reached the forest office without any further trouble. Two people from the port office were fishing. They also came back with us.

After the local people heard whole story explicitly, the assertion was like this……
The tiger decided to attack us when it saw us coming from the sandy field. When a tiger wants to attack some one or something, it usually follows them for a while. Then a pick place for attack and wait. When we were walking through the forest, it was waiting in its hiding place to attack us. Sometimes due some unexpected behavior from the prey, tigers especially Royal Bengal Tigers change their mind to attack.
It might have happened to us due to three reasons. Firstly, we walked slowly inside the forest but quickly outside the forest. Second, we entered the bush and then again came out. Lastly, our friend tried to change his lens. Many thought that he was the actual target of the tiger; but when he knelt to change his lens, the tiger roared in disgust and left. According to them, if the tiger were not in the mood to attack, we would have seen it for sure.
*Raas Mela, an occasion of religious festival of the Hindu community people.
**Hiran Point, This is another tourist spot in Sundarban. It is called the world heritage state. You can enjoy the beauty of wild nature and dotted dears walking and running in Hiron Point. Coordinates: 21°48'57"N 89°27'41"E

Inside Sundarban
Kewrashuti, Sundarban
Kewrashuti, Sundarban
Kewrashuti, Sundarban
char Dubla
A lonly boy
Dry Fish preparation at Dubla
people coming to Dubla 'Ras Mela' for  worship
low tide Hiron Point
Our entry point at Hiron Point
Hironpoint, Sundarban
Spotted Deer (Axis axis)

English version of http://www.sachalayatan.com/mustafiz/28454


রাতঃস্মরণীয়'s picture

উত্তম জাঝা!

your nice description has made the story more adventurous! keep posting Mustafiz Bhai. চলুক

প্রেমিক তুমি হবা?
(আগে) চিনতে শেখো কোনটা গাঁদা, কোনটা রক্তজবা।
(আর) ঠিক করে নাও চুম্বন না দ্রোহের কথা কবা।
তুমি প্রেমিক তবেই হবা।

নজমুল আলবাব's picture

এইখানে আমার অংশটা আছেতো? নাকি কেটে ফেলছেন? আংরাজীতো বুঝি না। মন খারাপ

দময়ন্তী's picture

আম্মো বাংলায় মন্তব্য করব, হ্যাঁ৷

এইবার বইমেলায় একটা বই কিনলাম The Sundarbans:: The hinterland of wilderness by Tanmay Choudhury.
বইটা স্রেফ ছবি দেখতে গিয়েই আর হাত থেকে নামাতে পারি নি৷ আর হাতে নিয়ে প্রথম ছবি টা দেখতে গিয়েই আপনার কথা মনে হয়েছে৷ আপনার লেখা আর ছবি নিয়ে যদি এরকম একটা বই কেউ ছাপাত, ২০০০ টাকা দাম হলেও আমি কিনতাম৷

"চিলেকোঠার দরজা ভাঙা, পাল্লা উধাও
রোদ ঢুকেছে চোরের মত, গঞ্জনা দাও'

নীড় সন্ধানী's picture

Terribly beautiful pictures!!

সকল লোকের মাঝে বসে, আমার নিজের মুদ্রাদোষে
আমি একা হতেছি আলাদা? আমার চোখেই শুধু ধাঁধা?

সৈয়দ আখতারুজ্জামান's picture

সচলে এই প্রথম ইংরেজি ব্লগ পড়লাম। দারুণ। ছবিগুলো ছোট, ডিটেউলে কিছুই বোঝা যাচ্ছে না। যাই ফ্লিকারে গিয়া দেখি।

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