Subrata Biswas Purulia’s sheep herders.
Subrata Biswas As Purulia is located in the lower part of Chotanagpur plateau, it hosts a diverse landscape, including lush forests and the verdant Ajodhya hill. Due to the pebbly nature of the soil and an insufficient water supply, farms can only plant single crops.
Subrata Biswas Many in Purulia live in shanties.
Subrata Biswas The region is poor, but people there live peacefully.
Subrata Biswas
Subrata Biswas As Purulia is in a low rainfall area and lacks natural bodies of water, collecting drinking water is challenging.
Subrata Biswas
Subrata Biswas
Subrata Biswas A local tribal celebration.
Subrata Biswas
Subrata Biswas
Subrata Biswas
Subrata Biswas An indigenous tribal wall painting at an interior village.
Subrata Biswas / Reuters
Subrata Biswas
Subrata Biswas In a low-rainfall area like Purulia, rain is precious.
Subrata Biswas / Reuters
Subrata Biswas
Subrata Biswas
Subrata Biswas

Scenes from India's Purulia District

Purulia, located in the eastern part of the Chota Nagpur plateau in West Bengal, is better known as the site of a mysterious arms drop. Early on the morning of December 18, 1995, a posse of men (five Latvians, a Brit, and a Dane) flew over the district in a Soviet-designed military transport aircraft known as a "curl" and dropped cases of weapons attached to parachutes. The cases contained hundreds of assault rifles, rocket launchers, and grenades. The supply was allegedly meant for a violent religious sect known as the Ananda Marga, but the facts remain murky and conspiracy theories, some implicating the government, abound.

In 2009, photographer Subrata Biswas traveled there, finding it a place of charming mundanity rather than mystery. Since then he has documented, in his "Purulia Diary," how the various tribes—Bhumiz, Koda, Munda, Oraon, Santal, and Shabar—pass the days by herding sheep and farming. Children run barefoot through the streets teasing pigeons. And, as Purulia lies in a low-rainfall area, the only thing that he found locals pray falls from the sky is rain.

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