Mangrove forests, plants that grow in a mix of saltwater and freshwater, are typically found in tropical and subtropical regions. This is because they need a higher concentration of solar radiation since they use it to filter saline water from their roots. Loaded with interesting facts, there are many more unheard tales when it comes to mangroves. Highly necessary both ecologically as well as for the country’s economy, it is not an exaggeration when it is said that these mangrove forests are India’s natural treasure.
Typically rich in diversity, mangrove forests in India are not only full of wondrous types of plants, but they also play home to a wide variety of wildlife species, many of which are endangered or seriously threatened. Therefore, it can be ascertained that mangrove forests in India are rich in flora and fauna and are worth being explored.
Here are seven of these wondrous mangrove forests in India to make your next vacation truly memorable and unique:
1. Sundarbans Reserve Forest, West Bengal
Famous as the largest mangrove forest in India, and the world at large, Sundarbans is teeming with some of the world’s richest biodiversity. The name 'Sundarbans' originated from the profusion of Sundari mangrove trees that thrive within this region. The forest is home to several wildlife species, such as the Bengal tigers, the Gangetic dolphins, saltwater crocodiles, Olive Ridley Turtles, and mangrove horseshoe crabs. One can come across many species of birds in the Sundarbans as well, such as great egrets, grey herons, spot-billed pelicans, etc. To protect the population of the endangered Bengal tigers, a portion of the mangrove lands was converted into the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve. Acknowledging its ecological importance, UNESCO declared the Sundarbans mangrove forest a World Heritage Site.
2. Pichavaram mangrove forests, Tamil Nadu
Pichavaram mangrove forests, one of the largest mangrove forests in the world, is located in Tamil Nadu, India. The forest consists of various islands of different sizes spread across its expanse of 11 kilometres. Several bird species such as openbill storks, little egrets, cormorants and pond herons among other many migratory birds can easily be seen in these mangrove forests. Said to be one of the most charming mangrove forests, Pichavaram is said to be a must-visit for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. One can appreciate the beauty of the Pichavaram mangrove forest up close exploring various activities such as motor-boating, kayaking, canoeing, etc.
3. Godavari-Krishna Mangroves, Andhra Pradesh
Spread across an expansive area of around 400 kilometres, the Godavari-Krishna mangrove forest is a combination of the Godavari mangroves in the Godavari River delta and the Krishna mangroves located in the Krishna River delta. Together, they make up the Godavari-Krishna Mangrove forests of Andhra Pradesh.
Some of the mangrove forest regions have also been converted into the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. The beautiful scenic views, experienced by a charming boat ride, make this mangrove forest one of the most alluring mangroves in India.
The sweeping lands are home to two wildlife sanctuaries as well, the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary and the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, with the latter also serving as a breeding zone for the olive ridley turtles. Another beautiful mangrove in India, these forests are rightfully counted among the most mesmerising mangroves in India.
4. Chorao Island Mangroves, Goa
Chorao Island has thriving mangrove vegetation. This mangrove forest is located in the river Mandovi, with the forest expanding on the banks of the rivers Zuari, Chapora, Tiracol, Galgibag and Tiracol as well.
5. Bhitarkanika Mangroves, Odisha
The Bhitarkanika Mangroves, in the delta of the rivers Brahmani and Baitarani, are famously called a genetic paradise of mangroves, all across India and the world. This mangrove forest also houses the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and the Bhitarkanika National Park on its vast premises. Originally the property of the local zamindars of the area, these forests came under the protection of the state forest department. Determined conservative methods that have been in place for the last 25 years have made these lands a flourishing wildlife site. Known as the largest olive ridley turtles breeding site in the world and is also home to the largest number of saltwater crocodiles in India, and to a large number of migratory birds.
6. Baratang Island Mangroves, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Baratang Island, an island under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is a nature lover’s haven. A sweeping mangrove forest in India, a massive part comes under the ‘very dense mangroves’ division. The mangrove forests can be explored and experienced up close by nature lovers by a boat ride through the creek running in the lanes of the forest. Although, you would be advised to be cautious as the waters are said to be full of saltwater crocodiles. If you are lucky, you might even be able to spot one or two in the water.
7. Gulf Of Kutch Mangroves, Gujarat
The mangroves of the Gulf of Kutch are considered one of the largest mangroves in India. The most common mangrove species you are bound to find in these mangroves are the Avicennia marina, also known as the grey mangrove. The best way to explore this mangrove forest would be by ferry, which takes you around to some of the islands forming the mangrove forest network, giving you an exciting insight into local flora and fauna.