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Things To Do In Shantiniketan
Shantiniketan is a beautiful quaint place in Bolpur that carried the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore. It is where we started his dream school and which today has grown into a full-fledged university. Shantiniketan where Tagore lived for some time and penned some of his works is a fascinating place but so is the surrounding village. Known for their art and craft, folk music, tribal dance and local ‘haat,’ Shantiniketan is an amazing experience for its tourists. Let us take a quick look at things to do in the area.
Tour of Tagore’s Abode
Rabindranath Tagore spent considerable amount of time here. Shantiniketan houses the buildings where he stayed and worked. The Uttarayan Complex has five buildings which are heritage buildings and well maintained. There is a beautiful Upasana Ghar built of Belgian glass where even today prayers are held every Wednesday. There is Rabindra Bhavan Museum where manuscripts, photographs, some of Tagore’s original works and paintings are displayed for the tourists. The Nobel Prize was also displayed here up until some years back, when it got stolen. There are other buildings where classes are held like the Kala Bhavan. A tour of Tagore’s abode is the first thing that tourists must do when in Shantiniketan. It is the chief attraction here.
Celebrate Poush Mela
Poush Mela celebrated in December in Shantiniketan is a gorgeous and colorful affair. it is a celebration of Bengali culture and spirit. It is on this day that Rabindranath Tagore’s father Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore along with few others embraced the tenets of Bramho Samaj and Push Mela commemorates this day. The mela brings together village folk artists, painters, Baul singers and tribal dancers. There are food stalls selling delicious authentic Bengal food and sweets. Shantiniketan remains extremely crowded during this time and if one wants to be part of this grand celebration make sure to book your tickets and rooms in advance to avoid disappointments.
Celebrate Basant Utsav
Basat Utsav or Holi is a popular festival that is celebrated in West Bengal with much fervor. The festival of colors celebrates the colors and beauty of life. Rabindranath Tagore introduced Basant Utsav in Shantiniketan. The festival is marked by music and dance performances from the early morning. Color is played but in an aesthetic manner which is extremely pleasing to the eyes. Students of Visva Bharati take part in the celebration and make it a huge celebration that draws people from all over the world. They clad themselves in brightly colored yellow attires and the color of Holi fills the air.
Visit Shonjhuri Haat
If you are visiting Shantiniketan, a visit to Shonajhuri Haat is highly recommended. It is where one gets to witness local rural culture at its best. Haat or bazaar is where the local people bring their handicrafts and wares and sell them. From jewellery, sarees, potteries and paintings to food; everything is sold here. It is also where one finds the famous Baul singers singing their way into people's hearts with their melodious music. Santhals put up dance performances which is mesmerizing. The simple way of life here tugs at your heart, and is so easy to forget the troubles of your city life.
Meditate in Chattimtala
Chattimtala is the place where Tagore’s father meditated and advocated meditation as an integral part of life. The site is considered to be sacred and is much revered. When visiting Shantiniketan, you can drop in at Chattimtala and spend some time meditating in the peaceful surroundings. The silence and the surrounding nature can bring a lot of peace to the mind. It is the perfect place to seek refuge when torn by the ordeals of life.
Go Deer and Bird Spotting at Deer Park
Deer Park in Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary is a mere 3 km from the university. The thick forest is a natural habitat for deer and many birds. Nature and bird lovers must pay a visit to the sanctuary. One can go spotting birds and their activities. It is a really great opportunity for photographers to go clicking and capturing the beautiful moments when they get those winged beauties to pose for you or catch those four-legged shy deer peacefully roaming around the lush green forests.
Cherishing the Beauty of Kopai River
Kopai River is a tributary of Bakreshwar River that flows through Bolpur. Though it remains dry during most parts of the year, during monsoon it overflows sometimes. It is a peaceful place to be and get to witness the beauty of Bengal rural countryside. The flowing river, the trees lining the horizon, the smell of earth, the freshness in the air and the prevailing silence are intoxicating. Kopai River finds mention in some of Tagore’s celebrated works and it is nice to see what had inspired the poet.
Eating in Shantiniketan
Shantiniketan is a regular travel destination for people of the state. It also draws a fair number of people from other parts of the country and the world over. It always helps to know what you can eat here and where. You can get yourself treated to some amazing authentic Bengali dishes complete with mutton, Hilsa, vegetables and fries. Bonolakshmi is a very popular restaurant located a few km from Bolpur and is very popular. Visit Nola Shantiniketan if you want to get a taste of continental dishes. Aarhani, Ram Shyam Resort in Shonajhuri Haat and Kasahara Café etc.
Shopping in Shantiniketan
Handicrafts and cottage industries are very popular in Bolpur, Shantiniketan. Local women are engaged in handicrafts and make some beautiful wares. Every Saturday the local artisans come together at Shonajhuri, sit under the trees and sell their crafts ranging from pieces of jewelry, kanthas, sarees, paintings, wooden wares, home décor items etc. It is the best place to go shopping in Shantiniketan. Amar Kutir is a cooperative unit where one can get leather goods, kantha stitched sarees and bamboo items at reasonable prices.