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Shantiniketan Tourism And Travel Guide
16.5° C / 61.6° F
November to February
2 to 3 Days
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (200 kms)
Bolpur Railway Station (3 kms)
Bolpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal is where Rabindranath Tagore gave birth to his dream project, Shantiniketan. If one has to understand Tagore, his passion, and know more about the poet and what he attempted to create for posterity, visit Shantiniketan. A seat of education in the lap of nature, strong influences of local rural life, a place that brings together local artists and musicians and encourages local handicrafts, Shantiniketan is a wonder. Visited by large number of tourists from all over the country and the world, Shantiniketan is a popular destination in the state and close to hearts of all. Here is a snippet of travel guide to understand the tourism here.
How to Reach
Shantiniketan does not have an airport and has to depend upon Dum Dum Airport in Kolkata for ferrying people. The airport is one of the major international airports in the country that is well connected with other cities of the country and other neighboring countries as well. Private and public jet carriers operate regular flights to and from Kolkata. From the airport, Shantiniketan is about 200 km away and can be covered by a taxi or bus.
The best and easiest way to reach Shantiniketan is by train. The Bolpur railway station is located a mere 2-3km from Shantiniketan and is very well connected with Howrah and Sealdah stations in Kolkata. There are a large number of trains that have regular train services between Howrah, Sealdah and Bolpur. Padatik Express, Rampurhat Sealdah Intercity Express, Kanchanjunga Express, Satabdi Express are some of the popular trains that run between the town and Kolkata. From the station tourists can take a cab or rickshaw to reach Shantiniketan.
Travel by road is another easy option for reaching Shantiniketan from Kolkata. There are regular bus services between Shantiniketan and cities like Kolkata, Durgapur, Guwahati etc. Many prefer to drive to Shaniniketan which a 200 km long journey. By car it takes only about 3-3.5 hours and the drive through Bengal’s countryside is charming and truly a beautiful experience.
Traveling in and around Shantiniketan and Bolpur is easy. There are several modes of local transport available like rickshaws, autorickshaws, cycles, and bikes for exploring the little area. Apart from this, you can also get tourist cars to be arranged by the guest house where you are put up.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Summer (April to June):
If there is one season when Shantiniketan should be completely avoided - it is undoubtedly summer. Birbhum experiences extremely harsh and scorching summer heat. With mercury rising continuously there is also a sharp increase in humidity and discomfort. Temperatures cross 42°C-43°C mark effortlessly. Exploring and sightseeing during this period is not recommended at all as people can get sun and heat strokes. If you do happen to be in Shantiniketan in the month of May you can witness the grand celebrations of Tagore’s birthday that are beautiful and captivating.
Monsoon (July to September):
The first showers of monsoon bring much needed respite for the people reeling from the extreme heat of the summer months. There may be occasional heavy showers but in general Shantiniketan receives moderate rainfall. One can witness the beauty of Bengal countryside during the monsoons.
Winter (November to February):
The best season to explore and enjoy Shantiniketan is during the winter. The skies remain clear, no rains, no uncomfortable heat or humidity to weigh tourists down. The weather remains cool and pleasant as mercury dips steadily. The light chill in the air feels good and refreshing. Winter is the season when Shantiniketan celebrates Poush Mela with much singing and dancing followed by Basant Utsav in February or March. Both these festivals are extremely popular here and an opportunity to get a favor of Bengali culture and spirit.
Things to Do
Tour of Tagore’s Ashram and Other Buildings:
Among the first things to do when in Shantiniketan is visit Tagore’s abode. Here you will come across the buildings where Tagore stayed and worked. There is the Uttarayan complex which houses five buildings and is very well maintained. There is the Upasana Griha which was built by Tagore’s father and today serves as the prayer hall for people. It is a stunning hall made of Belgian glass. There is Rabindra Bhavan Museum which holds the belongings, paintings, original works and manuscripts of Tagore displayed for the tourists. T
Celebrating Poush Mela:
Poush Mela celebrates the day when Maharshi Devendranath Tagore and few others embraced the tenets of Brahmo Samaj and adopted the Brahmo way of life. Since then Shantiniketan celebrates this day with much gusto and fervor. There is lots of merrymaking, dancing and singing. There are Baul singers who fill the air with their magical music and other local musicians and artists who visit and present their art and crafts. There are shops selling different wares, there are food stall where one can get a taste of authentic Bengali delicacies and much more. It is a celebration of life in Shantiniketan.
Celebrating Basant Utsav:
Basant Utsav or spring festival celebrates Holi in Shantiniketan. The students of the university take part in the singing and dancing. They dress up in brightly colored yellow clothes and dance their way into the hearts of all who witness this stunning performance. The celebration start from early morning, which is also live telecasted on television for people in other parts of the state to watch and cherish.
Go Bird Spotting in Deer Park:
The Deer Park is located 3 m from the university and is a beautiful place to chill. The lush green is extremely inviting and an early morning visit can be refreshing. Here you get to spot herds of deer who stroll around the park. For bird lovers this is an ideal spot to go bird spotting and for photography. One can identify large number of birds, some rare ones as well who have now made the place their natural habitat. Catch these beauties in action. It is an added attraction for visitors in Shantiniketan.
Visiting Shonajhuri Haat:
A visit to Shonajhuri Haat during your stay in Shantiniketan is a must. It is where you get a taste of the beauty of Shantiniketan and a flavor of Bengali life. Every week there is a haat or bazaar held where rural artisans come to sell their wares; ranging from kantha sarees, paintings, jewels etc. There are dance performances by Santhal women and soulful singing by the Baul singers. People gorge on delicious local dishes while enjoying the colorful ambience.
Eating in Shantiniketan
Like all other places of Bengal, food features strongly on the agenda of people when they are touring. Shantiniketan is no exception and people are treated to some lip-smacking Bengali cuisine here. There are a number of great eateries and restaurants where you gorge on delicious food. Bonolakshmi, Nola Shantiniketan, Aarhani, Ram Shyam Resort etc. are some of the popular places to drop in. Mutton, Hilsa, varieties of dal and veg dishes feature on the menu and are a gastronomic delight.
Shopping in Shantiniketan
When in Shantiniketan you can shop to your heart’s content at Shonajhuri Haat and Amar Kutir. There are no malls or lavish supermarkets. These are local bazaars and cooperative units where you get goods made and crafted by local artisans, women, and children. At Shonajhuri haat you can get lovely pieces of jewelry, wooden wares, sarees and home décor items, all handcrafted. You can take these back as souvenirs of the trip. At Amar Kutir you can get leather goods like bags that are very popular here, bamboo items and kantha sarees at quite affordable prices.