Shantiniketan – Serene & Soothing

July 28, 2019

Singha Sadan - the main buildings of the old university

Introduction –

Shantiniketan – a place synonymous with the most renowned Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. A place that’s calm, far from the madding crowds of the concrete jungle we stay in and very peaceful. It literally translates to peace (shanti) and home (niketan), i.e. an abode of peace.

Writings of Tagore, the Nobel laureate
Writings of Tagore, the Nobel laureate
Rabindranath Tagore - a portrait
Rabindranath Tagore – a portrait

It’s a small town in the Bolpur region of the Birbhum district of the state of West Bengal in the wonderful country India.

Quite recently we went on a short trip to Shantiniketan. At the heart of the town lies the Viswa Bharati University, the place that the legendary Tagore called home.

How we went & Where we stayed –

We did a road trip, as Shantiniketan is approximately 165 kms from Kolkata. Starting out around 8.30am we reached our hotel nearly at 12.30pm. In between we had breakfast at the popular Hindustan hotel (dhaba) which is situated just before reaching Shaktigarh. To share a little tidbit here, the hugely famous Bengali movie ‘Chotushkone’ had some parts of it shot at this hotel.

Mayas - our hotel
Mayas – our hotel

Our hotel in Shantiniketan, Bolpur was a beautiful boutique hotel called Mayas. A little outside the hustle bustle of the main city centre, this hotel had all the amenities that a guest expects. We got the ‘Tagore’ room, as explained by the hotel staff.

Acres of farm lands, seen from the hotel
Acres of farm lands, seen from the hotel

Our room had writings by Rabindranath Tagore, beautiful floor decorations made from fabric colours (called ‘Alpona’ in Bengali) and some world renowned books by the great poet. Once we stepped out to the balconies, as far as eyes could see, there was agricultural land, ponds and lush greenery. Imagine the serenity of this place!

A lake behind our hotel
A lake behind our hotel

Places we visited –

After freshening up and a hearty lunch, we went exploring the place.

Deer at the Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary
Deer at the Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary

First up, we went to the Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Deer Park. It’s a huge place with acres and acres of greenery and a wide range of deer. The most common deer variety found here is the Cheethal deer.

These beautiful innocent animals roam around freely and it was a joy to see them run, jog and jump across fences. Some of them seemed quite intrigued by our presence and even posed for our cameras!!

A deer posing for us
A deer posing for us

Next we went to the Viswa Bharati University compound. This is place where people spend the most of their time when they are in Shantiniketan. We met a person here who is also a professor, who guided us around all the places to see here.

Chhatimtala
Chhatimtala

Chhatimtala – It’s a serene beautiful place where Debendranath Tagore used to meditate.

Singha Sadan – It’s the main building of the older part of the university. It comprises of a clock tower and a bell which are instrumental in keeping time for the ashram and university. There is also different buildings built for the four major religions of those times. It’s got amazing architecture and I found it very fascinating.

The bell at the old part of the university
The bell at the old part of the university
Shantiniketan - the guesthouse
Shantiniketan – the guesthouse

Shantiniketan – The place from where the town derives it’s name. It was basically a guest house which is built in a unique style. One side of the structure is made in Hindu architectural style, the other in Muslim, and the other two sides in Christian and Buddhist styles. It’s still very well maintained and a beautiful place.

Rabindra Bhavan – This is a museum housing collections of Rabindranath Tagore’s things, writings, bone China and porcelain cutlery, musical instruments, life size portraits, a replica of the great poet’s Nobel prize and many more stuff.

Rabindra Bhavan - the museum
Rabindra Bhavan – the museum
Tagore's Nobel prize - a replica
Tagore’s Nobel prize – a replica

Kala Bhavan – It’s the department of fine and visual arts established by Rabindranath Tagore. An intricately designed building, it draws a lot of tourists.

Uttarayan – This complex comprises of the five houses where the revered poet used to live. And obviously enough it is a major attraction to travellers.

As evening descended, we headed back to our hotel. After enjoying a cup of tea with the gorgeous trees keeping us company, we went down to the swimming pool to enjoy some pool time and relax.

Porcelain crockery sets - at the museum
Porcelain crockery sets – at the museum

Conclusion –

As we drive out of Shantiniketan, the memories we took back with us were of the most renowned poet of the state, the Nobel laureate, the legend Rabindranath Tagore. The architecture, culture and the heritage of this place is a thing of pride for all Bengalis across the globe.

Rabindranath Tagore - the world renowned poet
Rabindranath Tagore – the world renowned poet

Let me know in the comments section below, if you have visited this place. Share your experiences with me. And also let me know if you had a good time reading through the article and leafing through the pictures. Till the time we meet again, be happy and keep smiling.

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