Bengal is the land where you will never get bored. There is always something to see and taste. At every corner there is a tale to tell. Nature is bountiful in the land of Bengal, blessing it with ample water, forests and crops.
The state of West Bengal has a unique landscape, somewhat akin to the country of India. In the northern side, it touches the feet of the Himalayas and in the south lies the great seas. There is dry land in western regions and lush greenery of the east. Due to its varied landscape and the multitude of people who have made this land their home, Bengal is a land where you will find much to click photos and tell stories.
Here are some striking pictures of Bengal that will surely capture your attention-
How a day starts in Kolkata. The early to rise can be seen best in the Maidan area. As they have already started their daily physical activities, the rest of us slowly wake up and warm to the day.
Needless to say, food and Bengal are soulmates. This beautiful snap is of Saldanha Bakery which is a traditional bakery that is proud to be running for more than 100 years in Kolkata. It is probably now the oldest bakery shop in Kolkata. Saldanha Bakery serves a variety of delicious home baked bread, sandwich, cake and sweetmeat. The bakery has its own trail of loyal customers.
Here is a click of the dense Sunderbans forest. There is a controversy as to how the name of Sunderbans was derived. Some say it is named after the mangrove tress called the Sundari (translates to beautiful) tree. Others say it got its name from the name Samudraban, which means the forest of the sea. Whatever the origin may be, Sunderbans thrills us to the bone.
Terracotta may be outdated in many parts of the world but it still lives in Bengal. Bengal’s art and history is rich in terracotta designs. Here is a beautiful artwork from Birbhum.
Heritage stays like the grand Bawali Rajbari remind us that one time Calcutta was called the City of Palaces. Many grand old mansions in Bengal like the Bawali Rajbari and Mahaeshgunj Estate have been restored in this fashion. Not only do tourists get a chance to cherish the historical buildings and lifestyle but it is also a great help in maintaining these huge buildings. It feels great to go back in time and experience the luxury of the royal lifestyle for a weekend.
Bengalis have more festivals than months. Here is lovely shot of a seller with his goods at Poush Pela at Shantiniketan in West Bengal. At this time, the fair becomes a potpourri of bright colours and hues.
Baul music flows deep into the blood of Bengal folk traditions. Baul is a beautiful form of music which has united various religions. It is equally loved by Vaishnava Hindus and Sufi muslims, proving that music breaks all manmade barriers. Baul music had influenced the great poet Rabindranath Tagore and he was deeply moved by it.
And of course people celebrating Durga Puja. Any list on Bengal would be incomplete without Durga Puja celebrations. Take any time of the year, a Bengali’s heart is never too tired to think of the Durga Pujo.
Related: Which Durga Puja character are you?
About 125 km away from Kolkata is the Naya village. This is the village where the patachitra artists create magic. Just look at their homes, it can match any creative studio! These patachitra artists have humble backgrounds and create art for the sake of art. It is not easy to carry out a hundreds of years old form of painting without any impurity. A patachitra artist shows how rich and beautiful a Bengal village is in art and culture.
Patachitra artists sell their painting at very reasonable price. However, the estimation of such an ancient living art is invaluable. Outside India, this form of art has been in focus and students from various countries come to West Bengal to study and practice this art.
The stories of Indian epics and Puranas have stayed alive for thousands of years because of people like them who create patachitras. Only do they have been traditionally painting these stories but the artists also travel and sing those tales.
Related: Jamini Roy’s wonderful paintings
Gangani is Bengal’s own little version of the Grand Canyon. But this place was always like this. According to Mahabharata, the mighty Bheema had a fight with the demon Bakasura and killed him here. After the wrath of the fight on the place, the landscape changed forever.
A candid shot of a female worker in the flower fields in Midnapore. Marigold, hibiscus and lotus flowers are a source of livelihood for many rural folks.
Related: The most beautiful blooms in nature
Bengal is blessed with a rich and colourful wildlife. The Indian Roller bird or what is popularly known as Neelkanth is one of the most gorgeous birds of the world. Here we see one in flight, with its various shades of blue captivating every photographer’s heart.
Northern region of Bengal is special for its breathtaking flowers. Here is a burst of blooms at Singalila National Park. The Singalila forest is one of the most spectacular forests in India which is also the home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. It is a safe haven for the Himalayan moon bear, the endangered red panda, the rare clouded leopard and the threatened pangolin. Singalila is also christened as a bird watcher and nature lover’s paradise.
Photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee’s awesome photographs show all the beauty of Bengal. Here is a path full of rhododendron blooms.
Bengal has rich biodiversity. It is home to the rare one-horned rhino, the red panda and many other flagship species.
Dooars forest area is rich with rhino, gaur, barking deer and Asian elephants. Gorumara, Chapramari, Buxa and Jaldapara are wonderful forest destinations. The open hooded jeep safaris and elephant safaris give the traveller an unforgettable experience.
Then there are miles upon miles of wonderful beaches in West Bengal.
Have you ever hear of fried jewellery? Here is one for you. It is called the goyna bori and although this will eaten up after it is dried and fried and added to dish, you cannot ignore the aesthetics. The artists put effort to recreate designs from their gold jewellery. This art requires a lot of patience and practice and is usually carried by the female artists in the villages.
Joy is where heart is! And this picture says it all. Here are some outstanding shots of rural Bengal showing the kids. Their innocent smile and spontaneity is the perfect snapshot of childhood. Explorer and photojournalist Kounteya Sinha’s pictures win our hearts.
The talented photographer from Kolkata has made his strong stand in the global photography arena. Kounteya Sinha is an inspiration for all those who love to travel and click.
To end, here is another from Sinha’s lens. Bengal’s art and culture is particularly photogenic. Chhau naach costume is as captivating as the dance itself.
The masks of Chhau naach are fantastic works of art that itself carry the drama. Many people collect these masks to decorate their living space and studio.