Birbhum – known as ‘the land of the red soil’ is the northernmost district in the Burdwan division of West Bengal. And yes, there is more to Birbhum, apart from Shantiniketan. Situated in the Gangetic plain and partly on the hills, bordered by River Ajay in the South, Birbhum boasts of rich cultural heritage and religious importance.
Malla Kings of Bishnupur, known for their rich architecture and classical music, ruled this region till the beginning of the British rule in India. That’s why Birbhum was called as ‘Mallabhum’ earlier.
There are many sacred and holy establishments in Birbhum that attract pilgrims across the country. The right combination of plains, hills and riverine along with religious places and nature parks – all contribute to make Birbhum a place worth visiting. It has a cultural legacy of its own and there is a rising trend among tourists to explore the places that are less talked about. The hotels near Bolpur Shantiniketan welcome tourists throughout the year. Panthashala offers a luxury hotel in Shantiniketan and also guides tourists who want to explore the richness of the cultural heritage, natural beauty and religious places around Birbhum beyond Shantiniketan.
Let us guide you to explore the offbeat places of Birbhum that should be in your itinerary next time you visit here:
1. Shakti Peeth:
There are legendary mythological tales about Shakti Peeth and how Devi Sati self-immolated herself outraged at Daksha’s insult of Shiva. Angry and desolated Shiva performed ‘Tandava’ carrying the remains of Sati’s body when lord Vishnu decided to scatter the body in different corners of the Indian subcontinent with his ‘Sudarshan Chakra’ to stop Shiva and save the universe. The bodyparts fell on Earth to become significant shrines and pilgrimage destinations where people can pay homage to the Goddess. Birbhum is home to 6 such Shakti Peeth – Kankalitala, Nalhati, Sainthia, Tarapith, Bakreshwar and Fullara where people across the country visit to offer their prayers and immerse in spirituality.
2. Jaydev Kenduli:
Kenduli village, situated on the banks of the river Ajoy, is believed to be the birthplace of the great Sanskrit-poet Jaydev. Birbhum being the cultural melting pot celebrates the soulful strains of Baul music at Jaydev Kenduli Mela every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. ‘Bauls’ are essentially a group of mystics from Bengal with an ecstatic eagerness for spiritual life. They travel across the land, pouring their souls out through their music that are mostly goes into the depths of the philosophy of universal love which transcends all religions. Thousands of people attend the Jaydev-Kenduli Mela to enjoy the folk-music and witness a slice of rural India being brought alive that celebrates the simple pleasures of life.
3. Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary:
Tourists in quest of excitement and thrill can indulge in adventure escapade at Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary, located 3 km from Santiniketan. The large wooded area with lush green fields and red soil is home to a number of wild animals, including the blackbuck and spotted deer. Take long walks in the well laid out jungle paths or spend a few hours in the watchtowers in early morning to watch wildlife and birds in their natural habitat. Tourists can also explore the tribal villages and their lifestyles located in the Eastern fringes of the sanctuary.
4. Massanjore Dam:
Massanjore Dam, built across Mayurakshi river is a perfect weekend destination for its serene and pollution-free atmosphere. The dam was built in 1956 with assistance from Government of Canada and is also known as Canada Dam or Pearson Dam. The hills in the background along with burble sound of flowing Mayurakshi river offer a great natural view and mesmerizing experience for the tourists. Take a leisurely walk throughout the region and visit the nearby picturesque villages inhabited by the tribal.
Patharchapuri is a small village in Suri gives way to a perfect holidaying experience with its rustic beauty coupled with rolling green farms, blissful ambience and aromatic atmosphere. It is believed that Sufi thinker and saint Hazrat Data Meheboob Shah Wali famously known as “Data-Baba” was gifted with miraculous power and used to cure dangerous diseases by applying ashes of dust. He breathed his last in Patharchapuri and his tomb is a frequently visited site. A large Fair, locally known as “Data Saheber Mela”, is held annually commemorating the death anniversary of Data Saheb where Lakhs of pilgrims assemble
Shantiniketan in Birbhum district is one of the most popular weekend destinations in Bengal. However, Birbhum has a lot in store for travellers who are genuine explorers. Here are some offbeat places that you shouldn’t miss while visiting Birbhum.