On May 1st 2015, together with a group of friends we traveled to Midnapur. Our purpose was to go assist a team of Spanish doctors running an eye clinic in St. Joseph’s Hospital located in the Midnapur area. We boarded a local train from Howrah station and arrived in Midnapur station after a travel time of about three hours. The train passed through urban slums to rural green fields to bridges that crossed rivers to finally arrive at our destination—Midnapur.
Midnapur, also known as Midnapore or Medinipur, is located in the state of West Bengal, India and on the banks of Kangsabati River which flows into the sea at Bay of Bengal. Historically, Midnapur is known for its contributions to India’s Freedom movement for it was a place of revolutionary activity. For instance, Khudiram Bose was born near Midnapur and studied at Midnapur Collegiate School before becoming a leading revolutionary during India’s Freedom struggle which eventually led to Indian Independence Act of 1947.
Another historical fact of Midnapur that really fascinates me is that near the town of Tamluk lies the fabled port of Tamralipti. This port on the margins of the Rupnarayan River (a tributary to the Hughli-Bhagirathi-Ganges River) has long disappeared but its wealth and fame is referenced in the Indian epic Mahabharata, in Buddhist writings during King Ashoka’s time and in the travelogues of Chinese pilgrims Fa-Hsien and I-Tsing (Darian, 2010).
In Fa-Hsien’s travelogue A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, version translated by James Legge, it is referenced that from the kingdom of Champa, Fa-Hsien continued his journey east and reached the country of Tamralipti in which the capital is a seaport. After staying for two years, writing out Sutras and drawing pictures of Buddhist images, Fa-Hsien embarked in a large merchant vessel to the country of Singhala or Ceylon (Legge, 1886).
Moreover Tamralipti is also referenced in writings during King Ashoka’s reign, it was from the port of Tamralipti that the precious gifts were dispatched by ship to the King of Ceylon as sustainers of harmonious diplomatic relationships. As a final note, in the Mahabharata epic, there is the frequent mention of the soldiers of Tamralipti who fought bravely in the great War.
This is an attempt to share my experiences in Midnapur through this set of photographs. It’s about a mysterious and mighty storm that suddenly hit the Catholic Hospital where I was volunteering during an eye-clinic. I’ve never experienced such as storm before and it is my hope this set photographs can give a glimpse of this experience.
Darian, Steven G. The Ganges in Myth and History. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2001.
Hsien, Fa. A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms. Trans. Legge, James. Oxford, 1886.