A personal travel blog by Ms. Reetwika Banerjee
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‘Kayaler Jungle’ is a vast stretch of greeneries at the outskirts of Kolkata which offers shelter to diverse flora and fauna since centuries. The list includes wide species of resident and migratory birds, butterflies, civets, wild cats, jackals, snakes, ferns, epiphytes and orchids.
Earlier the jungle belonged to the notable Kayal family of Kolkata which was later acquired by the Government in 2004 and made open to public thereafter. Recently it has been renamed to ‘Chintamoni Kar Bird Sanctuary’ (CKBS in short) in the honour of the famous Bengali sculptor Chintamoni Kar who had tirelessly fought over a decade’s time for gaining the wildlife sanctuary status of this private garden.
Years ago it used to be a grand orchard of the Kayal Zamindars; remnants of fruit trees like mango, guava, jackfruit, coconut, plum, tamarind etc could still be found in large numbers amidst the tall trees. Unfortunately, it was deserted by owners ever since the Zamindari rule was discontinued in Bengal. For over a century, the orchard was neglected like an abandoned property. However, the green cover was dense enough to be awarded the grade of wildlife sanctuary by the Forest Department in 1982.
Driving to ‘Kayaler Jungle’ from Narendrapur
‘Kayaler Jungle’ is geographically located at an easy drivable distance of only 30 kilometres from the city centre. And the best way to reach here is by road. One can also take a local train from Sealdah till Narendrapur (in Sonarpur section of Kolkata Suburban Railway) and then hire an auto rickshaw till the sanctuary entrance. We preferred to self-drive and reached the place in less than an hour via Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.
Large entry gate with ticket counter aside
Colourfully painted exterior walls
There was a large gate at the entrance with a ticket counter aside. On a plaque above the porch, the name of the sanctuary was prominently inscribed and the exterior walls were colourfully painted depicting the commonly found birds in the forest.
No formal parking
No formal parking was available, hence we had to park our car just outside the perimeter wall, at own risk. The surroundings did not look threatening thankfully. Amateur still cameras were allowed inside but entry charges per Indian adult was Rs. 50, which seemed quite high compared to the overall maintenance of the place.
Entry ticket Rs. 50 per Indian adult
Presently, it falls under the administration of Sunderban Biosphere Reserve of South 24 Parganas (Baruipur Range) and a big board by the Directorate of Forest confirms the notification ID of the same. The sanctuary timing is 7am to 4pm and it is highly advisable to reach there at the earliest to ensure maximum sighting of birds and other animals. Also, towards the afternoon, a wild variety of venomous fly is frequently found inside the woods. If bitten, it may have severe impact on kids and adults alike.
Board of Directorate of Forest Department
The moment we entered through the main gate, a mid-aged gentleman approached us to serve as our guide. As the internal roads seemed quite confusing, we were more than happy to find him. Immediately after crossing the entry gate and caretaker’s room, the thin forest road bifurcated into thinner lanes in two opposite directions. After a friendly debate, we decided to take the one on our right.
Bifurcation of internal road
Mud hut inside the forest
Walking through the jungle for barely over a minute, we reached a mud hut, seemingly the office of the Forest Department where couple of officials were busy in paperwork. The hut had a cool shade just outside, where three birders were taking rest and talking to each other. Their massive telephoto lenses bore testimony to their bird-watching interest. It seemed from their conversations that they are quite regular visitors of the place.
Big map of the sanctuary and List of birds found here
Colourful pictures of the commonly found birds in the sanctuary
Alongside the office room was a big map of the sanctuary and colourful pictures of the birds frequently found there. The information on board served as a dependable reference during our entire trek through the thick forest. No one would believe the existence of such a dense canopy of tall trees just at a stone throwing distance from the bustling metro life of Kolkata. What an amazing place for nature walk and bird-watching right at the middle of the city!
A memorable nature walk through ‘Kayaler Jungle’
Water reservoir for the winged friends
It took us close to three hours to complete a full round of the entire sanctuary, spending substantial time for photographic poses by the winged friends. Our guide also helped us a lot in identifying different varieties of birds. Among many others, we spotted beautiful birds like Black Hooded Oriole, Tailor Bird, Oriental Magpie Robin, Small Minivet and Fulvous Breasted Woodpecker.
Black Hooded Oriole sighted at ‘Kayaler Jungle’
Tailor Bird sighted at ‘Kayaler Jungle’
Oriental Magpie Robin sighted at ‘Kayaler Jungle’
Small Minivet sighted at ‘Kayaler Jungle’
Fulvous Breasted Woodpecker sighted at ‘Kayaler Jungle’
By the time we were done for the day, our tired feet wanted some rest. We trailed back to that same mud hut (supposedly the office of Forest Department) which we had noticed at the beginning of our jungle hike.
Relishing a rustic cup of tea from the outside vendor, we left for home by afternoon. Another fantastic day trip completed; let’s see what adds up next in the list.
The outside tea vendor