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Tourist Places To Visit In Shantiniketan
There is little doubt why Rabindranath Tagore wanted to create his dream seat of education in Shantiniketan. It is believed that he wanted learning to be closely associated with nature and perhaps inculcate love of nature in all those who sought education here. Shantiniketan in Bolpur is an abode of peace and the calmness and charm of the place helps to sooth nerves, making it a perfect weekend getaway for tourists. Apart from the University, which is the chief attraction there are many more places to explore and cherish in this small town. Here's our list.
Tagore’s Ashram at Shantiniketan
Rabindranath Tagore lived in Shantiniketan for a considerable length of his life and penned down several of his famous poems and essays here. Tagore’s Ashram, now a heritage site, had been built by his father Maharshi Devendranath Tagore. The ashram has archived his work, accolades, awards and the daily things that were used by Gurudev Rabindranath. It takes us back in time and is a great way to learn more about the great man. The ashram houses many buildings serving different purposes now. The place fills one with a sense of peace and pride for what he achieved and his lasting legacy.
This is a popular spot where Tagore's father Maharshi Devendranath Tagore meditated. He was an advocate of meditation and introspection. All students here are closely connected with this place as on graduating they are offered a branch of the Saptaparni tree that is found in Chattimtala. It is an extremely peaceful place that helps to calm down people who are exhausted from the rat race of modern life. located close to the prayer hall this place is considered to be sacred.
Upasana Ghar or Prayer Hall
Upasana Ghar or prayer hall is a fascinating place in Shantiniketan. The hall is made of different colored Belgian glass and is also referred to as KanchMandir. It derives its name from the glass (kanch) that has been used in the hall. Every Wednesday, prayers are conducted in this hall and candles are lit lining the hall which make it look ethereal and stunning. It is a must visit spot in Shantiniketan. It was built by Tagore's father in 1863.
Rabindra Bhavan Museum
A visit to Shantiniketan remains incomplete without a visit to Rabindra Bhavan Museum. For the historically interested and curious, this is the place where one can learn much about the life and works of Rabindranath Tagore. Built in 1961 the museum contains some of Tagore’s original works, paintings, manuscripts, photographs and certificates. It is interesting to learn about the man, a legend who created magic with his pen and left behind a legacy for posterity to cherish. It is where his Nobel Prize medallion was also displayed till it got tragically stolen few years back.
This is a beautiful decorated and decked up building in the premises of the campus. As the name suggests, Kala (arts), this building was set up to promote the value of arts among the students. It is a center for Visual Art practice and research in the country. The primary focus is to instill and inculcate an artistic bent of mind and develop an eye to cherish and appreciate the finer beauties of life through knowledge of arts.
Uttarayan Complex is the place where Tagore resided during his stay in Shantiniketan. Within Uttarayan complex there are five houses, namely, Udayana, Konaraka, Punascha, Udichi and Shamali. All these buildings were built in different architectural styles. Tagore is believed to have lived in Udayan. A heritage building, it is very well maintained and a prime tourist attraction. In 1863, a prayer hall had been constructed by Tagore’s father Maharshi Devendranath Tagore in this complex where Brahmo prayers were conducted. Many frescos and other exhibits are displayed here belonging to Gurudev.
Deer Park, Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary
Located a mere 3 km from the main campus of Shantiniketan is the Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary. It is popularly referred to as the Deer Park and was established in the year 1977. You can set out early morning to watch the herds of deer in action. It is also a natural habitat of beautiful birds that have made the sanctuary their home. Bird lovers and photographers can enjoy spotting birds and capturing the beautiful moments. The lush greenery is extremely attractive indeed.
Viswa Bharati University
Tagore’s vision and passion gave shape to Shantiniketan’s Viswa Bhatari University. He had started a school named Brahmachari Ashram in 1901. He wanted the seat of education to follow the ancient Gurukul system where children would be imparted life’s knowledge not within the fall walls of a building but in open nature. He believed that it would make education more holistic in nature. This school was later expanded and became what is today known as Vishwa Bharati University, pride of Shantiniketan, Bengal and the whole country.
During one’s stay in Shantiniketan, a visit to the famous Shonajhurir Haat is a must. It is the nerve center of the town where one finds a happy blend of color, life and music. Haat or bazaar is the place local artisans come together to sell their artifacts from bangles, jewelries, sarees to other handmade items. There are food stalls selling mouthwatering tidbits. There is music in the air as the Santhals and the Bauls put up their performances and transforms the place into a magical world, a world just as envisioned by Ranbindranath Tagore.
Kopai River is a tributary of River Bakreshwar and flows through Shantiniketan and Bolpur. During dry season the river has little water but with the onset of monsoon it overflows its bank. The area around the river is often covered in purple soil and forms ravines on the banks of the river with weathering. This is popular as khoai. A visit to Kopai River is recommended because of the sense of peace that prevails here. It is also the river which has inspired many literary works and has often been found described in Tagore’s poems.