Tome Pires wrote, ‘When they (people in Malacca) want to insult a man they call him a Bengalee’,1 Humayun renamed Gaur as Jannatabad (literally meaning land of paradise);2 Ibn Battuta described Bengal as ‘an extensive and plentiful country’ and added, ‘I never saw a country in which provisions were so cheap’;3 Manrique observed that, ‘The Bengalas are . . . mean-spirited and cowardly, more apt to serve than to command, and hence they easily accustom themselves to captivity and slavery.’4 Several such diverse and contradictory accounts have been produced over the ages on this stretch of land that has remarkably survived invasions, partitions, colonial dominations, religious contentions and exhibited significant dynamism in terms of urbanization.