Santiniketan
 


Santiniketan | Santiniketan India | shantiniketan

Santiniketan is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, and approximately 180 kilometres north of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).

It was made famous by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose vision became what is now a university town ( Visva-Bharati University ) that attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Shantiniketan is a tourist attraction also because Rabindranath lived here and penned many of his literary classics (namely Tagore songs, poems, novels etc.) and his home is a place of historical importance.

Shantiniketan was earlier called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Dakat, a local dacoit), and was owned by the Tagore family. In 1862, Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, while on a boat journey to Raipur, came across a landscape with red soil and meadows of lush green paddy fields. Rows of chhatim trees and date palms charmed him. He stopped to look, decided to plant more saplings and built a small house. He called his home Santiniketan (abode of peace). Santiniketan became a spiritual centre where people from all religions were invited to join for meditation and prayers. He founded an 'Ashram' here in 1863 and became the initiator of the Brahmo Samaj.

Later on December 22nd 1901, Devendranath's son, Rabindranath Tagore started a school at Santiniketan named Brahmachary Asrama modelled on the lines of the ancient gurukul system. After he received the Nobel Prize which enhanced not only the pride of India but also the Prestige of Santiniketan the school was expanded into a university. It was renamed Visva Bharati, it's symbolic meaning being defined by Tagore as "where the world makes a home in a nest". The aim of this educational institute was the quest for truth, blending the methods of learning of the East and West. Visva Bharati, now more than a hundred years old, is one of the most prestigious universities of India with degree courses in humanities, social science, science, fine arts, music, performing arts, education, agricultural science and rural reconstruction. At Tagore's behest, the annual Paus utsav became an important cultural event where students and teachers of his school took an active part. Paus Mela, therefore, becomes a meeting ground for urban people and rural folk. Rural artisans bring their wares like batik printed materials, the most famous Santiniketan Leather bags, earthen wares, paintings, etc, to the fair while urban relatives set up stalls so that rural people could buy the new industrially produced goods that was revolutionizing life in the cities. While it has not discarded its traditional value systems the educational system founded by Tagore thus proves to have also kept pace and evolved with changing times.

Apart from Visva Bharati the Bengal Institute of Technology and Management (BITM) is also located in Santiniketan - a place you wouldn't readily associate with an engineering college. Even the surroundings are very different from, say, a BE College or a Jadavpur University. Situated in the midst of paddy fields along the Sriniketan bypass, seven kilometres from Bolpur, the BITM Santiniketan campus looks desolate and there's hardly any transport connecting the college to the nearest town. But once you enter BITM, it's a different world. You are greeted by huge buildings, gardens, canteens, laboratories and playgrounds that dot the 60-acre campus.

Altough the main attraction of this place remains because of its association with Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), one of Bengal's greatest figures, of course the natural charm of Santiniketan is a major draw in itself. Home at Santiniketan would surely call for peaceful Residential Neighbourhood at Santiniketan amidst the greenery all around. Thus here comes Upoban the new concept of housing complex launched as a joint venture of Bengal Ambuja Housing Development Limited and Sriniketan Santiniketan Development Authority who enhances on materializing their vision of setting a well facilitated Residential neighbourhood at Santiniketan with utmost satisfaction of its residents.

However since this is one of the most renowned and coveted tourist spot in Bengal one would surely like to gather information on Hotels at Santiniketan. Please note that there are tourist lodges and Tourist cottages run by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation apart from which Visva Bharati runs a guesthouse as well. One can also find youth hostels at Bolpur and Bakeswar along with quite a few private hotels at Bolpur.

Weather in Santiniketan is usually a pleasant one although you will come across the normal weather changes during Summer, winter and Monsoon. Nonetheless Spring has its own charm in Santiniketan not only because of its natural beauty blooming to its fullest amidst the lush greenery but also due to the famous Vasanta Utsav held to mark the festival of Holi with the onset of Spring.

Connectins to Santiniketan:

From Calcutta Shantiniketan is 136 kms:

By Rail: By train from Howrah to Bolpur. Shantiniketan is 2 kms from Bolpur by cycle rickshaw.

By Road: By road it is 211 km from Calcutta. Direct bus service.

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