Bengalis are known to be culturally inclined people who are truly passionate about art, literature, music and all the finer aspects of life. Around 4hours’ drive from Kolkata, Santiniketan is the seat of art and culture in India and a hub for traditional handicrafts. Previously, this place was known as Bhubhandanga, after Bhubhan Dakat – a local dacoit! The word ‘Shantiniketan’ means ‘the abode of peace’ and it was the name of the guest house that belonged to Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore.
Shantiniketan is still carrying the legacy of Tagore that is modelled on the principles of humanism, internationalism and a sustainable environment. It was Tagore’s vision of setting up a school where education will go beyond the confines of the classroom. Ditch the clutter and confusion of city life as you drive up the highway dotted with lush vegetation at the sides. Peaceful countryside adorned by red soil, Sonajhuri trees, Kopai river and inherent simplicity and courteousness of people – all add to the natural charm of this place.
Shantiniketan attracts families, schools on excursion and youngsters on weekend trips alike. Panthashala offers homestays with super deluxe rooms in Shantiniketan that are meant to provide you with very personal and intimate space. All the rooms here are sanitized every day and all the safety protocols are maintained to ensure proper safety and hygiene for our guests. Here’s the list of things you must explore in Shantiniketan:
1. Tagore Ashrama:
Tagore Ashrama is Rabindranath Tagore’s abode which is now a heritage site well preserved by the authorities. Established in 1863 by his father, Maharishi Devendranath Tagore, the site features huge premise with manicured fields surrounding the main house. Tagore’s literary works, his awards and accolades, including his personal belongings are archived in here. The old Bengali style architecture and relaxing atmosphere will take you to a different era where you can feel Tagore’s aura and his presence all over the area.
2. Sonajhuri Haat:
Soak in the rich culture, explore the vibrant markets selling handicrafts and get carried away with the melodies of Baul songs while indulging in some good food – all at once in Sonajhuri Haat. It is an open-air market where locales sell various items starting from musical instruments to ‘Dokra’ handicrafts to ethnic jewellery and handloom sarees and dress materials. The deep, dry riverbed of Khoai is marked by a patch of dry forest of Sonajhuri trees on an eroded landscape of red laterite soil. The crafts of the local artists with Baul songs in the background, at Sonajhuri Haat one can witness the most unique cultural gathering in their lifetime.
Chhatimtala, a beautifully landscaped garden area is where Tagore’s father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore used to pray and meditate. The serene and peaceful atmosphere here helped intellectual excellence to flourish. It is said that Debendranath Tagore sat down to rest under chhatim tree on his way to Raipur (near Bolpur) and got his realisation of the divinity. Later, Rabindranath Tagore used to take classes under the shade of Chhatim trees. After the establishment of Visva-Bharati University, the annual convocation was being held at this place and a bunch of Chhatim leaves are given to the students. Feel complete peace of mind as you rest here and let the atmosphere fill your heart with purity and freshness.
4. Biswa Bharati University:
Biswa Bharati University is the perfect place to feel the vibe of Shantiniketan. The University embodies Rabindranath Tagore’s vision of a place of learning that is unfettered by religious and regional barriers which have played a vital role in Bengal’s modern art and cultural history. The curriculum here is developed by Tagore that reflects a unique blend of art, human values and cultural interchange. The Upasana Ghar situated on the Campus of Visva Bharati University will leave you awestruck with its beauty. The prestigious academic institution is a must-see for people visiting Shantiniketan.
5. Kopai River:
Kopai river is a tributary of the Mayurakhi river, which in turn joins the Hoogly, and finally merges into the Bay of Bengal. The river is the inspiration for Tagore’s ever-popular poem “Amader chhoto nodi” that generations of Bengalis have learnt in their toddler years. The river remains dry for most time of the year but overflows its banks during the monsoon. There is romance in the air of Santiniketan and watching the sunset sitting by the banks of Kopai will take you to a different world of happiness and bliss.
Discover the kaleidoscope of landscapes, people and culture that made Santiniketan a unique travel destination. Panthashala is offering hotels in Shantiniketan where intellectual travellers and local explorers will thoroughly enjoy their stay.