Full of vitality and antiquity, these bold images document the Padma, a major river that flows through Bangladesh and forms the last leg of the Ganges River journey. are taken from The Great Book of Padma: Life and Times of an Epic River by Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, who sets out to paint a complete picture of the land, water and people of Padma, a word meaning lotus flower in Sanskrit.
Starting in the Himalayas, the Ganges ends its 2,500-kilometre journey in the Bengal delta, where it is known as Padma (in main image). This is the largest river delta in the world and is a rich culmination of not only waterways, but also history and culture, shaped by the flow of the river.
Ashraf writes in his introduction how, in the past, “perhaps more attention was paid to the origins” of the Ganges in the mountains, “not to how it ends in the sea.” His book, which features a foreword by author Amitav Ghosh, “takes off where others have stopped dead,” he writes.
The images above show (from top to bottom): a fragment of a map by the Venetian cartographer Fra Mauro from the 1420s, suggesting a delta in the Ganges region; mangoes being transported to market in Chapai Nawabganj, known as the mango capital of Bangladesh; a boat market in the Manikganj district of the country (pictured above).
Padma’s Big Book is out now