This post is aimed at providing viewers with useful information on Shatiniketan as a tourist spot.
Bolpur is the railway station for Santiniketan. It is two to three hours by train from Kolkata. Convenient connections are 13017/13018 Gana Devta Express departing Howrah at 06:05, 3015/3016 Shantiniketan Express departing Howrah at 10:05 (this is the only train which originates/terminates in Howrah and Bolpur, so one has a better chance of finding seats on this train rather than the other trains if one buys unreserved tickets. If you are buying reserved tickets, then it won’t make a difference), 2347/2348 Sahid Rampurhat Express departing Howrah at 12 noon (and taking only 2 hours 20 min – the shortest time ), 3011/3012 Malda Inter-city Express departing Howrah at 15:25, 5657/5658 Kanchenjunga Express departing Sealdah at 06:45, 2345/2346 Saraighat Express, 215/216 Visvabharati Fast Passenger, 3071/3072 Jamalpur Express, 209/210 Darbhanga Passenger are other good trains.
For schedules check with Indian Railways or you can check here
By busHandicrafts, Batik prints, leather craft. A favourable time for shopping is during the “Pous Mela”. The unique style of embroidery associated with Santiniketan is known as’kantha stitch’. ‘Sudha Karu Shilpa’ in Andrews palli, hand made Batik works are available at “karu-shangha, an organization founded by Nandalal Basu for the house wives, who are ex-students of kala-bhavana Santinikeatn, ‘Amar Kutir’ in Sriniketan, and ‘Basundhara’ in Sonajhuripalli offer quality kantha stitchwork in the form of Sarees, Dupattas etc throughout the year. Other handicrafts like dokra (artistic brassware from nearby Dariapur), leather bags, bamboo toys and locally handwoven cotton are also worth a look.
Santiniketan is well connected by buses from all around. From Kolkata, if you want to go by bus, then you have to take Kolkata-Asansol bus or Kolkata-Suri bus. For Asansol bound bus you have to get down near Panagarh and for Suri bound bus you have to get down near Ilambazar and for both cases you have to catch another bus for Santiniketan.
Santiniketan is connected with Kolkata by an excellent road (Around 60% road is excellent 4-lane freeway. But then around ~70kms starting from Panagarh is of narrow and bumpy roads with traffic jams round the clock). From Kolkata travel to Dankuni and take the Durgapur Expressway. It is now part of NH2. It will bypass Saktigarh and Bardhaman. At Panagarh (Darjeeling Mor) turn right. After the highway crosses the Ajay river take the road to the right at Ilambazar and proceed towards Bolpur. At the Santiniketan-Sriniketan junction (also called Surul Mor) take the road to the left. Santiniketan is 212 km from Kolkata by road. Good drivers can cover the distance in about 3 hours
Do not miss
Buddha by Ramkinkar Baij
Fresco by Nandalal Bose at Sriniketan
Typical Santiniketan leather craft
An itinerant baul singer entertaining tourists in the Khowai area
Tagore’s ashrama, Closed on Wednesdays. One has to walk through the area. Guides are generally available outside Uttarayan Complex/Rabindra Bhaban, otherwise one has to follow the crowd. The first building in the area was a guest house built in 1863 by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore. It was named Santiniketan and thereafter the entire place acquired that name. Hermitage created with a Trust Deed in 1888 by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore. The area has several buildings associated with the Tagores – Santiniketan building, Nutan Bari, Dehali etc. School classes and major functions are held in the Amra Kunja (mango grove). Some of the Visva Bharati institutions are also located here. Tourists are not allowed to stray into areas where outdoor classes are held as they disturb studies. Some distance away on the eastern side is a small hillock with a large banyan tree. It was a favourite of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore.
Chhatimtala, Prayer place (under the “Chhatim” tree) of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore.
Brahma Mandir, Upasana Griha, constructed in 1891.
Look out for sculptures and frescoes of Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij and Binode Bihari Mukherjee, particularly around Kala Bhavana. Kalo Bari beside Sangeet Bhavana is interesting.
Uttarayan complex, Closed on Wednesdays. The complex has several buildings associated with Tagore’s memory – Udayan, Konark, Shyamali (mud hut), Punascha and Udichi. The complex has well-laid out gardens. Combined entry fee for Uttarayan complex and Rabindra Bhaban Museum is Rs 5. Cameras and hand bags not allowed.
Rabindra Bhaban Museum, Open on working days from 10:30-16:30. Open on Sundays. Closed on Wednesadys. The house is called Bichitra. Constructed in Tagore’s birth centenary year 1961. There are original manuscripts, letters, documents, medals (including Nobel Prize medallion), plaques, certificates, paintings, photographs etc. During Poush Mela the place is over-crowded and queues for entry are long.
Khoai Mela, The mela starts from around 15:00 and goes on till about 17:30-18:00 only on Saturdays and is worth visiting.
Amar Kutir, Many handicrafts like cloth, leather, batiks, hand-loomed fabrics and similar available.
Kopai river , known as Amader chhoto nodi in many of Tagore’s poems, particularly those for children.
Shilpa Gram. Shilpa Gram is close to the Ballavpur deer sanctuary. It is designed very nicely and showcases tranditional handicrafts of eastern region (including Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Manipur, Andaman, Jharkhand etc). Each state is represented by a traditional house which has collection of paintings, articrafts etc. The place is maintained neatly and has good collection of cultural elements.
Prakriti Bhavan Located in the Ballavpur area of Santiniketan, Birbhum, West Bengal. It is India’s one and only Nature Art museum with an impressive indoor display of natural sculptures in driftwood, dry wood and a sprawling open air garden of natural rock sculptures. Set in the most picturesque part of Santiniketan it is an aesthetic manifestation of the legacy of Tagore’s Santiniketan in linking man with nature through Art, music and poetry.
Cheena Bhavana, the China study centre.
Hindi Bhavana, Hindi study centre.
Nippon Bhavana, for Indo-Japanese studies.
Kala Bhavana, College of fine arts and crafts, has a museum exhibiting sculptures, frescoes and murals and a library of art books.
Patha Bhavana, Now a secondary school, is of particular interest, being an example of the traditional Brahmacharya Ashram.
Sangeet Bhavana, College of music and dance.
Vidya Bhavana, College of humanities.
Siksha Bhavana, College of science.
Vinaya Bhavana, Teacher’s training college.
Siksha Satra, Now a secondary school.
Sriniketan Campus, This campus has two Bhabans. When Rabindranath started this Univertsity,he had two visions in his mind – one is spread of education and another is rural reconstruction. Sriniketan is campus for Rural Reconstruction. It offers B.Sc., M.Sc in Agriculture, BSW and MSW, masters degree in rural development, anthropology and CIT. Visiting Hours, Winter: 14:00-16:30 hours. Summer: 14:30-17:30. During vacations: 07:30-11:00.
Handicrafts, Batik prints, leather craft. A favourable time for shopping is during the “Pous Mela”. The unique style of embroidery associated with Santiniketan is known as’kantha stitch’. ‘Sudha Karu Shilpa’ in Andrews palli, hand made Batik works are available at “karu-shangha, an organization founded by Nandalal Basu for the house wives, who are ex-students of kala-bhavana Santinikeatn, ‘Amar Kutir’ in Sriniketan, and ‘Basundhara’ in Sonajhuripalli offer quality kantha stitchwork in the form of Sarees, Dupattas etc throughout the year. Other handicrafts like dokra (artistic brassware from nearby Dariapur), leather bags, bamboo toys and locally handwoven cotton are also worth a look.