Weekend Destination From Kolkata: Shantiniketan, The Abode of Peace


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The word Shantiniketan literally means “abode of peace”. Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, the father of the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, dreamt of a place where people from every religion, caste and creed could find peace of mind through meditation, prayers and with closeness to Mother Nature. He established an ashrama here in 1863.

Bhubandanga was the original name of Shantiniketan and, it belonged to Sinha family. While on a trip to Birbhum district of West Bengal, the picturesque beauty of the place along with majestically canopied Dita Bark (Bengali: Chatim, ছাতিম) trees charmed Maharshi Debendranath’s mind. Sinha family, being in friendly relation with Debendranath, wanted to hand over the entire land as a gift. Paying a token amount of rupee one, Debendranath registered the land in his name in 1862 and in the following year, the ashrama was built.

Rabindranath Tagore envisaged a school amidst natural environment, beyond the confinement of the four walls of a classroom. He had the most modern visions on education; he firmly believed education doesn’t mean acquiring degrees, it is a deep-rooted understanding of one’s own culture and that of the whole world. On December 22nd, 1901, Rabindranath started an experimental school in Shantiniketan with only five students.
After receiving the Nobel Prize in 1913, the school was further developed and Vishva Bharati University was established. With time, Shantiniketan has evolved and adapted itself to keep pace with the fast-changing world. But, the quintessence of learning is still followed in the way the Great Poet wanted it to be. The university is the melting-pot of different cultures all over the world.

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Inside the campus

I have visited Shantiniketan a number of times. The beauty of Mother Nature is different here with the characteristic rugged red terrain of Birbhum and trees like Sal, Simul, Palash, Chhatim and many others. Nature here changes herself in each season like a sorceress with an invisible magic wand.  During winter, spring and monsoon, festivals like Poush Mela, Basontotsab and Barsha Mangal are celebrated here. Basontotsab, as the name suggests, is related to Holi or Dol Yatra; a wonderful celebration of colour, music and dance.

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Inside the Campus: Statue made by sculptor K.S. Radhakrishnan

This year, I visited Shantiniketan last month when there was a sharp chill in the air. This time, to my surprise, I spotted a plethora of avian species in the surrounding areas of Shantiniketan, namely Prantik.

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Chestnut-headed Bee-eater/ Green Bee-Eater

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Rufus Tree Pie

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Hoopoe bird

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Egret

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Red-vented Bulbul

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Oriental/Indian Magpie Robin

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Ashy Drongo

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A Barbet (sleeping)

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Asian Koel 

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Blue-throated Barbet

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Greater Coucal

Shantiniketan has much to offer to the tourists. The sprawling university campus (you’ve to hire a toto car to cover all the different departments in the entire campus (battery operated rickshaw), the local market, Sonajhuri’r Haat, showcasing handicrafts and different types of artefacts made by local people and students, temple at Kankalitala, Nature Art Museum, Shilpa Gram near Ballavpur Deer Sanctuary are the major attractions.

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Wooden Owls at Sonajhuri’r Haat

: How To Reach : 

By Train: Bolpur is the railway station for Shantiniketan and train is the most convenient way to get in here. It takes about three hours to reach Shantiniketan from Howrah. Shantiniketan Express, Howrah-Suri Intercity ExpressVisvabharati Fast Passenger are the most popular ones.

By Car: It takes four to five hours by car via NH19 and NH119. There is another route, but I prefer this one.

: Where To Stay :

Shantiniketan and Prantik, adjacent town of Shantiniketan, have a plethora of hotels and resorts. My advice is to book prior your tour to avoid any problem. The rents generally vary according to the seasons, highest during the festivals.

To know more about Tagore and his Shantiniketan, you can visit Ruma’s blog.

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138 responses to “Weekend Destination From Kolkata: Shantiniketan, The Abode of Peace

  1. Hmmm..you know, if I am not mistaken Yogananda ( An Autobiography of a Yogi) mentions this school in his story. Love the beautiful photos and the way you described the place, specially Mother Nature with her invisible wand!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Interesting post, Maniparna. You’ve captured the essence. Didn’t know much about Tagore’s father and how he got hold of the land. Such a beautiful ashram. And the statue by Radhakrishnan: when was it sculpted? Any idea? I saw a none too dissimilar statue at the Getty Center, LA, and I want to believe that Radhakrishnan inspired the Getty Center.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My shantiniketan,and your description,manusar na di,is always stunning.I have been there only time,and that too when I was an infant.This post,made me crave for that place.Hope you are well didi,Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a pity bestie that i havent seen Shanti niketan yet! And i see you are into birding 🙂 niceee!! Loved your post and the serenity in it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Greenery, tranquility, arts, literature, flora and fauna…what more can one ask for? It’s one place I have read only in stories and books…hope, someday I shall visit it too. Beautiful images, Mani! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I am camping here in Shantiniketan for last few months. But never knew that Devendra Nath bought this piece of land from Sinha family. This is such an enjoyable and informative read. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks a lot, Indrajaitda…. আর, অর্নিথোলজিস্ট নই…হেহে… কিছু পাখি’র নাম জানি শুধু… পাখি’র ছবি তুলতে ভালবাসি… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • আমার পাখিদের দেখতে ভালো লাগে, ওদের শুনতে ভালো লাগে … তবে আমি খুব কম পাখিদের নাম জানি। আমার কাছে তুমি অর্নিথোলজিস্ট থেকে কম নও। 🙂
        শুভ আন্তর্জাতিক মহিলা দিবস!

        Liked by 1 person

      • থ্যাঙ্ক ইউ। 🙂

        এই মাসের শেষে নর্থ বেঙ্গল যাচ্ছি, একটা ছোট গ্রাম, পেডং। শুনলাম নাকি পাখি দেখা যায়, দেখি কী পাওয়া যায়…

        Liked by 1 person

      • বাঃ খুব ভালো। আমি কোনদিন পেডং যাইনি তবে শুনেছি খুব সন্দর স্থান। প্রাচীন শহর, একসময় সিল্ক রুটের মধ্যে ছিল … যুলুক হয়ে তিব্বত যেত বৌদ্ধরা এবং ব্যাবসায়িরা। আরেকটা নতুন স্থানের নতুন গল্প পড়তে পারবো … সাথে কিছু সুন্দর ছবিও। অপেক্ষায় রইলাম। 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting to know that the land of Shantiniketan was bought by Maharshi Debendranath for a token amount of one rupee. You have beautifully captured the birds and the sculpture. Thank you for sharing.
    I heard that Didi has started the Bishwa Bangla at Shantiniketan to showcase the handicrafts. I like the concept.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks very much, Mani, for an interesting tour of Shantiniketan, which is one place in Kolkata I am yet to visit. Your engaging narrative is an additional impetus for me to take in the Shantiniketan aura asap. Btw, your bird-watching is really going places and bringing in some beautiful pics..

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi, I don’t know how your comment landed in my spam folder 😦 Akismet behaves in a weird way!

      I’m so glad you liked the bird pictures. I love clicking birds though it often takes a toll on my patience 😀
      You’ll love the quaint nature of Shantiniketan. Hope you’ll soon get the chance to be there… 🙂
      Happy to see you here after a long time. Hope you are doing fine.

      Like

  9. Thanks very much, Mani, for an interesting tour of Shantiniketan, which is one place in Kolkata I am yet to visit. Your engaging narrative is an additional impetus for me to take in the Shantiniketan aura asap. Btw, your bird-watching is really going places and bringing in some beautiful pics..

    Like

  10. Thanks very much, Mani, for an interesting tour of Shantiniketan, which is one place in Kolkata I am yet to visit. Your engaging narrative is an additional impetus for me to take in the Shantiniketan aura asap. Btw, your bird-watching is really going places and bringing in some beautiful pics..

    Like

  11. Thanks very much, Mani, for an interesting tour of Shantiniketan, which is one place in Kolkata I am yet to visit. Your engaging narrative is an additional impetus for me to take in the Shantiniketan aura asap. Btw, your bird-watching is really going places and bringing in some beautiful pics../

    Like

  12. Thanks, Mani, for such a lovely tour of Shantiniketan. This is one important place in Kolkata that I have not visited. Your engaging narrative is another impetus for me to see it all asap. And your bird watching is really going places and bringing out some beautiful pics…

    Like

  13. I loved this post Mani…so informative and close to nature! Though I have heard a lot about Shantiniketan, I could never get an opportunity to visit this renowned and revered place. You are blessed to have visited it so many times. Thanks for sharing the details and lovely pictures.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Balroop. Truly I consider myself fortunate enough to visit Shantiniketan, Tagore’s abode of peace. It gives me a strange feeling to see all those places, rivers and trees that inspired Rabindranath Tagore and have become immortal through his poems…

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow! Kolkatta has fascinated me for years now and this place is on my list to visit. What gorgeous pics of the birds you have managed to capture here! Lovely commentary on the history of the place 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Lovely learning about this destination in Kolkata, Mani. Sounds like a place full of history, inspired by notable figures in India’s history. Different tine of year, different celebration so there will always be something to see 😊 Great images as usual. Wonderful close up work with the birds 😊

    Liked by 4 people

    • You are right, Mabel. Throughout the year, different celebrations are held here. Anyone can participate along with the students. This and the quaint nature of the place together have made it a great destination for tourists all over the world. There is a separate building for students from China… 🙂 Glad, you liked the birds… thanks loads…

      Liked by 1 person

  16. The way you capture nature and the her children specially the tiny ones (Birds here) explains your deep love and attraction to mother nature,not only in those post rather your other photography in different social media always reflects your affection and your deep views with love to nature.
    In short you have provided necessary infos. related to Shantiniketan.
    Interesting byaparta ki jaano…Shantiniketan amar barir eto kaachhe uporntu Bolpur e amar onek relatives and friends thake kintu ami Shantiniketan konodin jai ni…jabo jabo kore jawa hoi ni..
    Aage inform korle parte..tomar hotel er khorchata beche jeto.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Looks like a great place. You have captured lovely pictures of birds. Presence of a variety of birds indicate that it’s a peaceful place. BTW what brings you back to Shantiniketan again and again? 😃

    Liked by 2 people

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