The Sundarbans - A Note From Rich Pagen
"I invite you to join me on an exciting journey through the northern Bay of Bengal, traveling from India to Bangladesh and finally Myanmar. In addition to the transect of diverse cultures we will be immersing ourselves in, I am particularly excited to spend three days visiting and exploring the largest contiguous mangrove forest on the planet! The region is called the Sundarbans and is found at the confluence of five major rivers. I might even go so far as to say it's THE perfect storm of river deltas.
The fine silt deposited by the large rivers is the perfect substrate for various species of salt-tolerant trees to grow, in the midst of a watery world that can vary in salinity from fresh to as salty as the sea itself, and everything in between. The landscape consists of a mosaic of islands of different shapes and sizes, separated by a labyrinth of waterways whose water flow is completely dependent on the tide. Exploring this watery world for both its wildlife and to learn about the people who carry out their daily lives in this unique habitat will certainly be one of the highlights of the trip.
Home to the rarely seen Bengal tiger (an estimated 180 live here), the Sundarbans also host colonies of some of the largest bats on earth (flying foxes), as well as saltwater crocodiles, and rhesus macaque monkeys that forage along the water's edge at low tide. But perhaps my favorite wildlife of this habitat are the mudskippers. Sharing the mucky dark silt with colonies of fiddler crabs, mudskippers are fish which, instead of hiding out in shallow pools or burrows during low tide, set off across the mud to feed when the water has retreated. Specially adapted to take in oxygen through their skin and wet gills, these most land-loving of fish can easily stay out of the water for an entire tide cycle as long as their bodies remain wet. They are a joy to watch going about their business.
Don’t miss your opportunity to join a unique adventure to a rarely-visited, and utterly fascinating part of southern Asia."
Religions of the Bay of Bengal - A Note From Shirley Campbell
"The Bay of Bengal is an intriguing crossroads of civilizations that I never tire of exploring. On Zegrahm’s upcoming India, Bangladesh & Myanmar voyage, you can experience the rich diversity of beliefs and traditions that have thrived in this region for centuries.
The coast of India north of Chennai is a lightly traveled region that offers a unique window into the lives of traditional Indian fishing villages. Here you will find one of the most significant Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh at Simhachalam, dedicated to the god Vishnu. I am excited to share the legend of this particular incarnation of Vishnu and the significance of this temple as an important pilgrimage for Hindus.
At Paradeep you will find evidence of one of India’s great religious exports—an ancient Buddhist site located in what is called the Diamond Triangle. This region is home to the remains of monasteries, stupas, and other religious structures. In stark contrast to the Hindu temples which continue to welcome devotees, these Buddhist sites are long disused, as Buddhism became far more important outside of India.
From India we enter the watery world of Bangladesh’s delta where, over the centuries, people have le
arned to shift their homes with each season’s flooding. In rural Maheskhali you will find another religious tradition, Islam, mixed with the local animistic traditions that have been influenced by centuries of Hindu connections. Though Maheskhali is a quiet backwater of fishermen and salt makers, the island hosts a Buddhist monastery as well as a Hindu temple.
Myanmar is a myriad of rich cultural diversity only recently reopened to the world. This devoted Buddhist population is still attentive to their animistic spirits. If you have never visited an active Buddhist pagoda, the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is the one to experience with its impressive array of imagery, prayer alcoves, and neon-light halos backing Buddha images.
I hope you’ll join me so you, too, can explore these ancient religious sites and experience these unique civilizations!"
View Expedition: India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar
Read More On The Bay Of Bengal: By The Bay