Shantiniketan – the center for Bengali art and culture

Shantiniketan by Meha & Gaurav

The name means the “abode of peace” and it can be rightly described as the same. In the year 1862, Maharshi Devendranath Tagore while travelling to Raipur came face to face with the red soil and the palm trees planted on them and the peace that the surrounding was providing, and then he decided to make a house there and named it as Shantiniketan.

Geographical location:
This area comes under the Birbhum district of the state West Bengal. It has an elevation of 56 meters maximum. The temperature is extremes during the summer and moderate during the winters. One can expect moderate rainfall for the rainy season.

Places to visit:
Shantiniketan can never have a lack of any place to visit. It is an amazing area where people just love spending here and there looking for peace. It owns the following places, visiting which would be of absolute delight.

Vishwa Bharti: Basically the place Santiniketan now is best known for the University of Viswa Bharati. Apart from that these there are numerous houses which were built so that teachers and students could accommodate in them. Out of them Gairik, Shankar Bhawan, Prak Kuthir, Dehali, Santoshalaya, Benukunjo and Mukut are a few.

AmarKutir -It is basically a handicraft centre and full of intriguing artifacts. It was initiated by Rabindranath Tagore to open up a co-operative system so that the villagers could sell the handicraft artifacts there.

Tagore's Ashram-Initiated by Devendranath Tagore it was constructed by the intention of promoting the Bramho Samaj or Bramho Dharma.  This Ashram was changed into an open air school later by Rabindranath Tagore.

Chhatimtala- This is where one gets to see the Chhatim trees and it is said that Debendranath Tagore sat under them to relax while he was on his journey to Raipur. This is here that he realized the Pantheism or the divine quality of oneness of God. 

Kala Bhavana- Kala Bhavan was initiated so that the art as a form of education could be imparted to the students. It was built by Rabindranath Tagore in the year 1919.

Cheena Bhavan- Cheena Bhavan was initiated to glorify the Indo- China relationship. It is here the language is thought and there were numerous patrons and scholars of Chinese language and culture who visit the iconic Cheena Bhavan as teachers as well as tourists.

Sangeet Bhavana- This is the place where Rabindranath Tagore used to impart training of songs and other forms of art. Till date Sangit Bhavana train numerous students not only on songs but also Classical Music, on instruments like Esraj, Sitar, Tabla, Pakhwaj and dances in the forms of Kathakali art form.

Other places of interest are:
·         Vidya Bhavana
·         Alcha
·         Siksha Bhavan
·         Patha Bhavan
·         Uttarayan Complex
Things to do:
There are more than a lot of events held in Shantiniketan every year. People get to participate in various forms of cultural and art forms throughout the year due to its social functions. One can visit any time and enjoy the best events as the weather permits this. The Poush Mela which is a three day affair or the Nandan Mela, the Rabindra Jayanti etc. are the few of the many events that one can enjoy.

Food and accommodation:
There are lots of guest houses providing food that truly represents the Bengali cuisine. These are extremely cheap and worth staying. The place nowadays is also filled with many condominiums. Some of the hotels that you can try booking are Mark and Meadows, Hotel Emblic, Hotel Balaka International and many others.

How to reach??
This place is about 212 kms north to the city of Kolkata. It doesn’t have any airport near it except that of Netaji Subhash International Airport in Kolkata. The nearest railway is at about 2 km in Bolpur. One can also consider driving to Shantiniketan from Kolkata.
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