Ideal weekend destination, far from the hustle and bustle of city life,
3 hour drive from Kolkata, with very good roads all the way. alternately there is lots of trains from Howrah which also takes around the same time.
Santiniketan in the Birbhum District is a land of red soil with lush green paddy fields. The main attraction of this place remains because of its association with Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore (phone number hidden)). Of course the natural charm of Santiniketan is a major draw in itself. Nature has bestowed her splendour through the lavish greenery everywhere. Truly as the name suggested by Maharshi Debendranath Tagore (RabindranathaTagore’s father) it is the ‘abode of peace’. Home at Santiniketan would surely mean a peaceful residential neighbourhood amidst the natural beauty all around.
VISIT TAGORRE’S ASHRAM
• 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. The place 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 10.30AM to 4.30PM. 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 3PM and goes on till about 5.30-6PM only on Saturdays and is worth visiting.
• Amar Kutir - The place where all types of hadicrafts like cloth/leather batiks, handlooms etc. are available.
• Kopai river - it is there as amader chhoto nodi in many of Tagore's poems particularly those for children.
Sriniketan was established as a rural reconstruction center in the year 1922. It was inaugurated on 6th February, 1922. Leonard Elmhirst was the first Director. It had a prominent Adult Education component and also houses an agricultural college.
Main purpose of establishment of Sriniketan was to promote the rural development and to help the villagers. An emphasis was put on the scientific study of the village problems and then solutions were attempted. It focuses on adult education, agriculture, cottage industries, village welfare and handicrafts. Rural Co-Operative Stores sell the handicrafts like kantha embroidery, batik, weaving, dhokra metal-ware, bell metal products, terracotta pottery and leather goods.
Sriniketan is open (phone number hidden) during winters, and (phone number hidden) am during summers. This place will surely fascinate the tourists for its underlying greatness.
VISIT SANTHAL TRIBAL VILLAGES
Boner Pukur, Kaligange, Pearson Pally, Balipara & Adivasi Palli.
Originally, the Bauls were nonconformist, who rejected the traditional social norms to form a distinct sect that upheld music as their religion. "Baul" is also the name given to the genre of folk music developed by this creative cult. It's easy to identify a Baul singer from his uncut, often coiled hair, saffron robe (alkhalla), necklace of beads made of basil (tulsi) stems, and of course the single-stringed guitar (ektara). Music is their only source of sustenance: They live on whatever they are offered by villagers in return, and travel from place to place, as it were, on a vehicle of ecstasy.
CULTURES & FESTIVAL
Briksharopan and Halkarshan.
PLACES AROUND SANTINIKETAN
• Surul - near Sriniketan, temples with exquisite terracotta carvings.
• Kankalitala - 9 km, on the bank of the river Kopai, one of the satipeethas.
• Labhpur-Fullara - 30 km, a satipitha, birth place of Tarashankar Bandopadhyay.
• Nanoor - 20 km, birth place of Chandidas, 14th century Sanskrit poet, famous for his Vaishnav Padavalis. There is a temple dedicated to Devi Basuli.
• Kendubillo - 30 km, on the bank of the river Ajay, birth place of 12th century Sanskrit poet Joydeb, author of the masterpiece Geeta Govinda. A fair is held here on Makar Sankranti (mid January). Baul songs are the principal attraction of this mela. There is a temple with terracota decorations.
• Bakreshwar - 58 km, satipitha, also famous for the Bakranath Shiva temple and hot springs.
• Tarapith - 88 km, saktipeetha, famous temple of Tara Devi.
• Nalhati - 100 km, shaktipeetha
• Sainthia - 44 km, shaktipeetha
• Massanjore - 75 km, in Dumka district of Jharkhand, a dam across the river Mayurakshi with a picturesque reservoir. One can travel on to Deoghar another 98 km in the same direction.
• Durgapur - 60 km, the steel city. One can travel on to Vishnupur another 70 km in the same direction or on to Asansol, another 30 km, along NH2.