There are no doubts that Shantiniketan offers one of the perfect weekend getaways near Kolkata. So, here we list out some of the top places to visit while you are in Shantiniketan, and a few that you might avoid depending on your taste and the season you are visiting this gem of a place.
1. Visva-Bharati University:
If you are a lover of art or want to learn about art and creativity, this university is the perfect place for you. The campus is so huge that it is difficult to cover it by walking. We had to see majority of the area from outside by riding a toto. We decided to explore a few interesting areas inside on foot. We entered from the gate which had The Upasana Griha (prayer hall) where Rabindranath Tagore used to meditate. After entering, we saw Devendranth Tagore’s (Rabindranth Tagore’s father) house, 'Shantiniketan'. Apparently, the city of Shantiniketan was called Bhubandanga in the past. Devendranath Tagore renamed it Shantiniketan after his house. After walking a little further, we came across the famous “Chhatimtala” which was the place where Rabindranath Tagore found utmost peace and this is the founding place of some of his great works. Then we saw the places where classes are taken in open air, the podium where VIPs deliver speeches when they come, the banyan tree under which Tagore wrote his poems and the ground where Basanta Utsav (Holi) is held every year.
Then we moved over to the arts and crafts section of the campus where we saw some extraordinary artwork by Ramshankar Baid.
In the end, we took a toto ride and saw various departments of languages and arts from outside.
There is no entrance fee to enter Visva-Bharati University.
2. Kala Bhavana:
A part of Visvabharati University, this place showcases some of Ramkinker Baij’s brilliant works.
The ones worth mentioning are “Mill Call” and “Santhal Family”.
Mill Call (1956) – the sculpture denotes a scene where a mother and an aunt are on their way to the mill to work with a child calling out to them. While the mother is walking straight ahead with a smile on her face, the aunt looks back at the child out of sympathy.
Santhal Family (1938) – the first modernist sculpture of India which depicts a mother, father, child and dog from the Santhal tribe, carrying their few possessions with them to their new life.
Kala Bhavana also showcases the black house, a wall which was made by the students where Rabindranth Tagore’s famous poem “A mind is without fear” is written, a gymnast and many other beautiful sculptures.
This place is a must visit for art lovers. Be ready to be mesmerized.
3. Rabindra Bhavana (Museum):
This is a Tagore memorial museum, which forms another important part of Visvabharati’s heritage. It comprises of 5 houses lived in by Tagore, referred to as the Uttarayan Complex. The museum contains personal items of Tagore and creates an atmosphere of nostalgia.
There is an entrance fee.
Photography is strictly prohibited.
4. Sonajhuri Shanibarer Haat (Khoai Haat):
If you are in Shantiniketan on a Saturday, you should definitely not miss this mela (fair). It is basically a handicrafts fair. People of Khoai and neighbouring areas come here to showcase and sell their handicraft items. The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is brilliant. You can also get a view of Santhali (tribal/Adivasi) dance and Baul music over here. If interested, you can even join the dancers and enjoy yourself thoroughly.
5. Srijani Shilpagram:
Since we had some time in hand, our toto driver took us to this place. We were a little skeptical but we are glad we visited this place. It was, surprisingly, one of the better parts of our trip. The Shilpagram is basically a museum showcasing the culture, homes and lifestyle of a number of states from across India like West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Andaman, Nicobar, Manipur, etc. It is a great educational place and a must visit for kids and culture lovers. The entry fees and camera charges are nominal. If you get hungry while roaming around, there are a couple of food stalls just near the entry/exit gate.
6. The Shantiniketan Monastery:
How many of you are aware that there is a big Buddha statue in Shantiniketan? We didn’t know about this monastery and were in for a shock when we saw it. It’s a beautiful statue but unfortunately not maintained well.
7. Khoai River:
Since our visit was in February, the river had dried up and we could not see much but as per our toto driver/guide, it is a must see attraction during monsoons. Visit it only if you’re visiting Shantiniketan during monsoon or just after monsoon. If you’re visiting in dry season, it is not worth it, you may as well skip it.
8. Amar Kutir:
In the past, a refuge for freedom fighters, in present day it is a cooperative society for promotion of arts and crafts. To be honest, there is nothing much to see here. There are leather and other handicraft goods available for sale over here but the prices are on the higher side. If you want to buy handicraft items, it is better buying it at the Shanibarer haat, where the prices are much cheaper. If you have ample time in hand, you can visit Amar Kutir but we wouldn’t recommend it as a “must visit” place.
Did we miss adding any other top place to visit in Shantiniketan?
Do let us know in the comments.
If you are visiting Shantiniketan and need any help booking your train tickets to/from Shantiniketan and hotels to stay in or to get connected to a toto driver, you can get in touch with us and we will help you with the bookings.
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