Shantiniketan

Why To Go

‘The Abode of Peace’, Shantiniketan is the land of Rangamati (red soil), Palash phul (Palash flower) and Kabiguru entwined with nature’s beauty.  A small town situated near Bolpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal and 212 km from Kolkata, Shantiniketan is made popular by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who founded the Viswa Bharati University here. Formerly called Bhubandanga, named after the local dacoit, Bhuban, Shantiniketan was actually renamed by Maharshi Debendranath Tagore (Rabi Thakur’s father) in 1862 after which the place was owned by the Tagore family. In 1901, Brahmacharya Asram was established by Rabindranath, a school that was designed on the lines of ancient gurukul system; that later extended into Viswa Bharati University.

Shantiniketan is  famous for fairs and festivals such as Poush Mela which is flocked by tourists during December; Joydev Mela and most importantly the Basanta Utsav, made more enthralling by the Baul singers in the month of March.

Travel Tips

Though a perfect weekend or a short trip during any time of the year is acceptable, the best time to visit Shantiniketan is during December or March. You can experience the Festival of the Spring or Basanta Utsav in March, when the entire place is blossomed with the red Palash flower and love is in the air. You can experience Baul songs, Bengal’s rich culture, Bengali sweets and music during Poush Mela held in December. Movie camera or a camera is a must, so as to capture those captivating moments which you would relish later on…

Things To Do

Viswa Bharati University: The most coveted destination in Shantiniketan, Viswa Bharati University was founded by Tagore in 1901. The campus of the University is huge amid beautiful nature. Housing buildings of Arts, Fine Art, Science etc. the campus also has a museum, prayer area and the delightful open air class rooms initiated by Tagore himself. Basanta Utsav and Poush Mela are celebrated in full swing and is a must visit for tourists. Within Viswa Bharati campus, you can visit Tagore’s Ashram, the Uttrayan Complex, Upasana Griha, Kala Bhavan, Patha Bhavan etc. Basanta Utsav: One of the gorgeous festivals held during Holi in the month of March, Basanta Utsav welcomes the colourful spring with dance, music and much revelry. Teachers, students and common man greet each other with abir. The festival of Spring, Basanta Utsav was started off by the great poet himself. Poush Mela: Held in the bengali month of Poush (December), Poush Mela is a window to folk culture of Bengal. The fair brings together artisans, baul singers, folk artists, different bengali delicacies; and exhibits a variety of handicraft items like Shantiniketan bags, handcrafted earthen wares, paper flowers, paintings etc. A must visit if you drop in during the mela time.

Getting Around

To savour the true taste of Shantiniketan the best way is walking or getting around by cycle rickshaws. Behold the beauty of nature and sing songs or recite poetries of Tagore as you tread amid the nature. A guide may relate the history of the past and you may also visit Khoai. A camera is a must to capture the beautiful moments, landscapes and the amazing architectures. Moreover, if you are a shopaholic, Shantiniketan is a perfect place to fulfil your desires. From handicraft items to bags, from Kantha stitch sarees to Batik printed outfits, from handmade jewelleries to decorative items… you would get anything and everything.

How To Reach

FLIGHT

Bolpur is the nearest railway station to Shantiniketan and is just 2 km from the main town. Numerous trains from Howrah/ Sealdah station including express and local trains are available to reach Shantiniketan – The abode of peace. A convenient and comfortable journey by train takes around 3-4 hours to reach the Abode of Gurudev.

TRAIN

Buses regularly ply from Esplanade area to reach Shantiniketan. Well connected and around 212 km from Kolkata, buses normally take 4-5 hours to reach the town.

ROAD

You may drive on your own or take a car to reach Shantiniketan. Excellent road condition would make you excited, and the distance of 212 km can be covered approximately in 3-4 hours. So, enjoy a long dive during the weekend.

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Surrounding Attractions

Ballavpur Sanctuary Park: Situated near Bolpur, Ballavpur Sanctuary Park is just 1km from the main town and Viswa Bharati Campus. With a total area of 200 km this lush green sanctuary has three large water bodies that host a variety of migratory and resident birds. Inhabited by different types of deer like Cheetal, Blackbuck, and other wild life such as jackals, rabbits etc. this place is one of the attractive tourist spots. Deer park: Only 3 km from the main campus of Viswa Bharati and located in Sriniketan, the Deer Park is 15 min. drive from Ballavpur Forest. The forest is the home of a large family of deer which breed in the natural environment. Amar Kutir: Located on the banks of Kopai river, Amar Kutir is around 15 km from Shantiniketan. Amar Kutir meaning My Home was once a place of refugees has now turned into a cooperative society for the promotion of arts and crafts. Khoai Mela: As the mela or fair is held on Saturdays, you need to plan your trip around a Saturday. Khoai Mela, the colourful fair sets amidst the romantic Sal trees, starts at 4am in the morning. Local artisans from nearby places display their items that comprise household items, handicrafts, colourful bags, clothes and much more. Often Baul singers and folk dancers perform that make the fair more colourful and fascinating. Kankalitala: A small rural town which is located 7 km from Shantiniketan. With vast green fields and a perfect example of a Bengal village, Kankaitala would certainly refresh your soul. You will also find a small local temple, considered to be highly holy and is thronged by visitors and devotees everyday.
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