Shantiniketan- Home of the Bard

Shantiniketan is probably the only place I have gone till date where the absence of technology did not hurt me.Though it has been almost three years since I went there but the memories of Ranga Matti and Khola Hawa are fresh in my mind as if it were just yesterday that I had made the trip. The best part of this trip was that I was accompanied by my friends and the fun that you have when you are with your friends is something that you miss when you are travelling on your own or with your family.

I still remember the  warm October morning in 2011 when I was waiting in the Howrah Station to take my first ever train ride. Bolpur can also be reached by cars and buses which ply regularly from Kolkata . But due to lack of time we chose to take the fastest way- a train ride which would take us in about two and a half hours.

If you have not taken a train ride ever , then I suggest that you should, at least once in your lifetime. The train moving at its own pace with the scenery changing outside every now and then is a sight missed by those sitting high up in the plane.Right from barren lands to crops being cultivated and animals grazing amidst lush greenery ; every sight can be seen and experienced. There is an equal amount of activity going on inside the train as well.People from all backgrounds and speaking different languages travelling together; food vendors , book sellers, candy sellers and achar sellers shouting on top of their voices to attract customers. Overall the two and a half hours journey seems very less when surrounded by such wonderful activities. On its way the train stops at various big and small stations to pick or drop people. Some daredevils also show their skills by trying to jump off from the moving train but display of such tactics are highly objectionable and dangerous.

RIVER AJOY FROM THE TRAIN
BOLPUR STATION
Shantiniketan is a place close to nature. It appeals to the senses of a person and transcends the gap between them and nature. The beauty lies in the simplicity of the place and the innocence of the people living there. It is not a concrete jungle but a series of loose shacks, bungalows, green fields , villages and a number of tourist lodges apart from hostels for the students who come to study in the Visva Bharati University.

FIELDS 
When in Shantiniketan there are a few must see places that one has to visit.
  • The Visva Bharati University campus houses not only the University itself but also a centre for Arts and Culture, the house of Rabindranath Tagore , a museum, a prayer hall and a very famous more than a hundred year old Banyan Tree. There is also a handicraft section where handicrafts made by the students are on display . But it remains open only during the sessions of the University.
PRAYER HALL

BANYAN TREE
  • Family Park is a beautiful place which can be best enjoyed during evenings. watching the sunset amidst such wonderful surroundings of games , swings and food counters is not something one gets everyday.
  • Amar Kutir is a very famous handicraft centre. Anyone who comes here cannot miss this place.From hand embroidered dress, Kurtis, file, folders, jewelries, paintings to pora maati  (burnt clay) show pieces , everything is available here. One must take some souvenirs which reflect on the tradition of Shantiniketan from here.
  • Flower Garden Resort  is a lush garden-scape spread over few acres of land. One can name a flower and find it in the garden. Every direction one looks one can find a variety of colors – From red, pink, yellow , white roses to tulips, sunflowers, jasmines, periwinkles and some occasional fungi , everything can be spotted here. There are huts which can be booked by people to stay and relax in during short weekend trips .
TREES PRUNED TO FASHION

THE LONELY ANT

LOTUS’ READY TO BLOOM

THE ROAD TO THE FLOWER GARDEN RESORT 

  • Sanskriti Park is a unique display of the culture of India . It has traditional huts representing different States of the country . Inside the huts are those traditional items with which one clearly associates with the State- be it festivals, musical instruments, paintings, embroideries, etc.
ENTRANCE TO SANSKRITI PARK

TRADITIONAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS ON THE DISPLAY
  • There are many villages and settlements in Bolpur. If  time permits one can visit these tribal and non-tribal villages and experience the rural way of  living.
PAINTINGS ON THE WALLS OF THE VILLAGE HOUSES

A TRIBAL LADY AT WORK

  • The Village Haat sits only on Saturday evenings . It is a true reflection of the culture where the tribals sell their hand made items , Baul singers entertain people in their melodious voices – all in the banks of the beautiful Khoai.
  • Lastly, the river Kopai and the irrigation channel Khoai. One can sit on the banks of Kopai and feel that time has stopped . One can feel being transported to the time of the Bard and imagine how he could compose most of his masterpieces.
CROSSING THE KOPAI

A DRIED UP KHOAI

In Shantiniketan few things should be remembered.
  • With an abundance of mosquitoes at night , life can be bad.
  • Waking up in the mornings to find a monkey on your rooftop or veranda is not an unusual sight.
  • Cows and Goats taking a bath in the nearby river can be a pleasant view.
  • People follow the simple rural lifestyle Early to bed, early to rise; thus wandering around in the empty streets after ten at night is not advisable.
Nevertheless it is a trip one should make to relax their senses from the busy tension filled hustle and bustle of the city life.
A FARMER AT WORK



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