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West Bengal is a state in northeast India. It is bordered on the east by the nation of Bangladesh (formerly East Bengal, and then East Pakistan), on the north by the nations of Sikkim and Bhutan, on the northwest by the nation of Nepal, on the west by the state of Bihar, on the southwest by the state of Orissa, and on the south by the Bay of Bengal. The capital of the state of West Bengal is Calcutta. The state is divided into districts, roughly corresponding to what we call counties in the U.S.
Bishnupur is located in Bankura District, in rural western West Bengal, about 150 kilometers west of Calcutta. It was the seat of a kingdom several centuries ago. The Bankura district is known for the traditional tribal dhokra lost wax castings.
Dakshineswar is a town just north of Calcutta, along the Hooghly River (a branch of the Ganges). Dakshineswar is noted for its Kali temple (or complex of temples: the central temple is the Kali temple but there are also twelve Siva temples, a Radha-Krishna temple, and other ancillary buildings). Dakshineswar is particularly famous because Sri Ramakrishna, a Bengali saint and mystic, lived and taught there (on the temple grounds) from the 1850s through 1880s. It has become a place of pilgrimage for devotees of Sri Ramakrishna and friends of the Ramakrishna Order, founded by Swami Vivekananda in honor of his guru.
Nadia District is a district to the north (about 25 miles) of Calcutta. The far northern reaches of the Calcutta metropolitan area extend into the southern part of this district. The Hooghly (Ganges) River flows through this district, which borders Bangladesh on the east. It was in Nadia District that Chaitanya, the 15th century mystic, was born and lived his early life. Nadia District was also the home of the 18th century poet Ramprasad Sen.
Kalyani is a town in southern Nadia District. It is a university town in which there are five universities or colleges. It is a small and quiet town, with perhaps 20,000 inhabitants. However, there may be half again as many refugees from Bangladesh living in makeshift structures in the town.
The 18th century poet-saint Ramprasad Sen was a devotee of the goddess Kali. He lived in the village of Kumarhati on the banks of the Ganges (Hooghly branch). This village is in southern Nadia District.
Pictures and text Copyright © 2000-2007 by Kalarte Gallery and Bernard Cesarone.
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