The first record of settlement in the region is from the 13th century. Hindus fleeing the Muslim advance sought refuge in the forests, eventually settling and building a number of temples. They were later joined by the Khiljis, who were fleeing the Afghans. In the 17th century, Portuguese-Mogh piratesprobably caused the population to leave the area, although lack of fresh water and an unhealthy climate must have been contributing factors.
The Sundarbans was added to the Unesco World Heritage list in 1997.