December 11, 2014

A November In Shantiniketan


I would have published this post a LONG time back had not my computer been such pathetic wreck for weeks. So I took a little trip with my parents to Shantiniketan last November. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to visit it. It's a small town near Bolpur in Birbhum district, West Bengal.

For us Bengalis, Shantiniketan is more than just another town. It is as much a symbol of literature and creative arts as it is for crafts and culture. But most importantly, Shantiniketan still stands as the town where Rabindranath Tagore (Bengali poet and Nobel laureate) once lived and composed many brilliant masterpieces.

And thus began our 2 day vacation in Shantiniketan.



DAY 1

My parents and I took the morning train from Kolkata to Bolpur, which is a 5 hours ride. We hopped onto a rickshaw from Bolpur station and headed for our Lodge.

Shantiniketan, as history goes, is actually the name of the land plot once owned by the Tagore family. The entire locality later came to be known as Shantiniketan (even though it is a walking distance from Bolpur town).

So after a quick breakfast, we left for our sightseeing of the day. Our ride was a pretty little Toto (battery rickshaw). The first stop was the Kankalitala Temple just outside town.


From there we walked to the famous Kopai river near the temple.


We stopped briefly at a local Arts and Crafts shop which had a variety of wooden and leather items (clothes, bags, figurines, jewellery).

On our way back, we found ourselves a small eatery in the outskirts. It is perhaps the most beautifully decorated eatery I've visited till now. The tables, chairs, utensils, decors were all made of clay and bamboo straws. And the lunch was well, oh-so-delish.



DAY 2

Day 2 was all about taking a tour of the Visva Bharati University which was set up by Rabindranath Tagore to establish a new form of education where students wouldn't be confined to the walls of a classroom. As such, classes were held under the sun and the tradition is still being followed.

We spent the day learning about the history associated with the University and its various landmarks. Our guide took us through every nook and corner of the University which, by the way, is HUGE. And green. *gasps*




It took us about 2 hours for a thorough tour of the University. Later, we bought tickets to visit the museums that preserved the belongings and souvenirs of the Tagore family. We also visited the 5 homes of Rabindranath Tagore within the Visva Bharati campus itself. Sadly, we weren't allowed to use our camera inside the museum or his homes.



We visited the local markets in the evening. We bought a couple of leather purses for our family and friendly. Otherwise, we stayed indoors. Or went out for tasting sweetmeats (or mishti as we call them).

We took an early train back to Kolkata the next day.I'm hoping to go back there very soon, probably during Holi or Poush Mela (the annual carnival). But until then, here's to some fresh cheerful memories.

Have you been to Shantiniketan?




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