The town is home to Visva Bharati, founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1921. Visva Bharati was declared a central university in 1951. It has produced such diverse personalities as Indira Gandhi and Amartya Sen and has been home to great artists and musicians. Around 1.2 million visitors visit Santiniketan annually.
Nearest airport from Santiniketan is the Andal (Durgapur) airport. But a few flights are present in this airport. Netaji Subhas Airport (Kolkata) is the nearest airport to get in Santiniketan smoothly. Cabs are available from the airport to Santiniketan. (169 km approx.) You can also use trains from Sealdah and Howrah stations.
Bolpur is the railway station for Santiniketan. It is two to three hours by train from Kolkata. Convenient connections are 13017/13018 Gana Devta Express departing Howrah at 06:05, 3015/3016 Shantiniketan Express departing Howrah at 10:05 (this is the only train which originates/terminates in Howrah and Bolpur, so one has a better chance of finding seats on this train rather than the other trains if one buys unreserved tickets. If you are buying reserved tickets, then it won't make a difference), 2347/2348 Sahid Rampurhat Express departing Howrah at 12 noon (and taking only 2 hours 20 min - the shortest time), 3011/3012 Malda Inter-city Express departing Howrah at 15:25, 5657/5658 Kanchenjunga Express departing Sealdah at 06:45, 2345/2346 Saraighat Express, 215/216 Visvabharati Fast Passenger, 3071/3072 Jamalpur Express, 209/210 Darbhanga Passenger are other good trains.
For schedules check with Indian Railways.
If you are female and taking the train, look for designated "Ladies Cars" to enjoy a more comfortable and hopefully less crowded ride. If you are travelling with significant amounts of baggage, be aware that even in reserved cars you may struggle for space, and hiring a car may be a better alternative to reach Santiniketan.
- 1 Bolpur Shantiniketan railway station.
Santiniketan is well connected by buses from all around. From Kolkata, if you want to go by bus, then you have to take Kolkata-Asansol bus or Kolkata-Suri bus. For Asansol bound bus you have to get down near Panagarh and for Suri bound bus you have to get down near Ilambazar and for both cases you have to catch another bus for Santiniketan.
Santiniketan is connected with Kolkata by an excellent 4-lane freeway. From Kolkata travel to Dankuni and take the Durgapur Expressway. It is now part of NH 19. It will bypass Saktigarh, Bardhaman and Panagarh. At Panagarh (Darjeeling Mor) turn right. After the highway crosses the Ajay river take the road to the right at Ilambazar and proceed towards Bolpur. At the Santiniketan-Sriniketan junction (also called Surul Mor) take the road to the left. Santiniketan is 212 km from Kolkata by road. Good drivers can cover the distance in about 3 hours. Coming from the direction of Kolkata, one can also take the NH-2B route via Talit-Guskara-Bhedia-Surul Mor by taking a right turn from the Durgapur Expressway just after crossing Burdwan Town on the right (where the Renaissance Township is on the left) and taking this route via Nababhat Mor. It saves time and the distance is less from the above route by about 50 km.
Totos are the most convenient and cheap means of transportation these days. The older Cyclerickshaws are still available and can be availed, though it would cost more. Hired cars and taxis are not always readily available. If you are a tourist, don't get on the cycle rickshaws in front of the museum that are manned by the persistent teenagers as they will take you on a farcical circulatory routes to make you spend more. Choose the older guys. Or just walk round the town. See the map of Visva Bharati complex online.
If you are planning an extended stay, it may be worth your while to purchase a bicycle from one of the many local cycle shops. A brand new bicycle costs ₹3,200-₹3,600.
- 1 Rabindra Bhaban Museum. Open on working days from 10:30-16:30. Open on Sundays. Closed on Wednesadys and Thursdays. During Poush Mela the place is over-crowded and queues for entry are long. The museum hall is called Bichitra. Constructed in Tagore's birth centenary year 1961. There are original manuscripts, letters, documents, medals (including Nobel Prize medallion), plaques, certificates, paintings, photographs etc. The five houses used by Tagore during his life named Udayan, Konark, Shyamali, Punascha and Udichi. No photography in Rabindra Bhavana and Uttarayan complex. Combined entry fee for Uttarayan complex and Rabindra Bhaban Museum is ₹10 for students, ₹50 for Indians and ₹300 for foreigners.
- Chhatimtala. Prayer place (under the "Chhatim" tree) of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore
- Brahmo Mandir. Upasana Griha, constructed in 1891
- Tagore's ashrama. Closed on Wednesdays.. One has to walk through the area. Guides are generally available outside Uttarayan Complex/Rabindra Bhaban, otherwise one has to follow the crowd. The first building in the area was a guest house built in 1863 by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore. It was named Santiniketan and thereafter the entire place acquired that name. Hermitage created with a Trust Deed in 1888 by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore. The area has several buildings associated with the Tagores - Santiniketan building, Nutan Bari, Dehali etc. School classes and major functions are held in the Amra Kunja (mango grove). Some of the Visva Bharati institutions are also located here. Tourists are not allowed to stray into areas where outdoor classes are held as they disturb studies. Some distance away on the eastern side is a small hillock with a large banyan tree. It was a favourite of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore.
- Look out for sculptures and frescoes of Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij and Binode Bihari Mukherjee, particularly around Kala Bhavana.
- 2 Kalo Bari. Profusely decorated
- 3 Prakriti Bhavan, Amar kutir Road, Kabi Mohanpur. Located in the Ballavpur area of Santiniketan, Birbhum, West Bengal. It is India's one and only nature art museum with an impressive indoor display of natural sculptures in driftwood, dry wood and a sprawling open air garden of natural rock sculptures. Set in the most picturesque part of Santiniketan it is an aesthetic manifestation of the legacy of Tagore's Santiniketan in linking man with nature through art, music and poetry Daily 9AM-5PM.
- Shilpa Gram. Shilpa Gram is close to the Ballavpur deer sanctuary. It is designed very nicely and showcases tranditional handicrafts of eastern region (including Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Manipur, Andaman, Jharkhand etc). Each state is represented by a traditional house which has collection of paintings, articrafts etc. The place is maintained neatly and has good collection of cultural elements.
- 4 Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary. It includes a Deer Park
Visitors are not allowed to loiter around educational centres during working hours as these disturb the classes being held
- 5 Cheena Bhavana. China study centre
- 6 Hindi Bhavana. Hindi study centre
- 7 Nippon Bhavana. Japan study centre
- 8 Bangladesh Bhavana. Well-deigned new addition with auditorium
- 9 Kala Bhavana. College of fine arts and crafts, has a museum exhibiting sculptures, frescoes and murals and a library of art books
- 10 Patha Bhavana. Secondary school, is of particular interest, being an example of the traditional Brahmacharya Ashram
- Sangeet Bhavana. College of music and dance
- Siksha Bhavan. College of science
- Vidya Bhavan. College of humanities
- Vinaya Bhavan. Teacher's training college
- 11 Sriniketan Campus. Visiting hours, Winter: 14:00-16:30 hours. Summer: 14:30-17:30. During holidays: 07:30-11:00
Fairs and festivalsEdit
- Briksharopana. Planting of saplings and Halakarshana ploughing of the fields on 22nd and 23rd Sravana (August).
- Maghotsav. Anniversary of Brahmo Samaj celebrated on the 11th of Magha (25th January), with prayers and songs at Chhatimtala.
- 1 Poush Mela. The fair is held at Santiniketan from 7th-9th Poush (December 22/23-25). Tribal sports, folk songs and dances including songs by bauls, the itinerant singers, are a part of the fair and festivities. Some sort of "bhanga mela" or broken fair, with some shops, continue till the end of December. (Accommodation is heavily booked during this period. Anybody wanting to visit during this period will need to plan ahead for hotel bookings.)
- Rabindra Jayanti. Although the birth anniversary of Rabindranath falls on 25th Baisakh (May 8/9), the anniversary as well as the Bengali New Year (Nabo Barsho) is celebrated on the first day of the Bengali New Year (Poila Baisakh) in mid-April with songs, dances, and recitations by the students.
- Varshamangal. Festival of rains during August/September. Tagore was a poet of nature and some of his finest creations were about the rains.
- Vasanta Utsav. Held to celebrate Holi (March). The students dance and sing their ways through Amrakunja, followed by open-air variety programmes. (Accommodation is heavily booked during this period. Anybody wanting to visit during his period will have to plan ahead.)
- 'Study at Visva Bharati University'.
- Handicrafts. Batik prints, leather craft. A favourable time for shopping is during the "Pous Mela". The unique style of embroidery associated with Santiniketan is known as 'kantha stitch'. 'Sudha Karu Shilpa' in Andrews Palii, Santinikeatn, 'Amar Kutir' in Sriniketan, and 'Basundhara' in Sonajhuripalli offer quality kantha stitchwork in the form of Sarees, Dupattas etc. throughout the year. Other handicrafts like dokra (artistic brassware from nearby Dariapur), leather bags, bamboo toys and locally handwoven cotton are also worth a look.
- Rabindranath, Santiniketan, Sriniketan (book) by Tapan Kumar Basak. Available locally ₹30.
- 1 Amar Kutir. Many handicrafts like cloth, leather, batiks, hand-loomed fabrics and similar available.
- 2 Saturday Market (Khoai Mela), Sonajhuri. It starts from around 15:00 and goes on till about 17:30-18:00 only on Saturdays and is worth visiting. Variety of items available, including local handicrafts. Baul programmes organised
- SK Restaurant, Bolpur-Santiniketan Rd, ☏ . 10AM-10PM daily. This restaurant, near Jambuni Bus stand opposite to Gitanjali Prekhagriha, is very good, both in terms of food quality and quantity. Look for "morabba", a Siuri speciality (type of sweet meat).
Santiniketan and the surrounding areas offer a few bottle shops for wine and liquor purchases. A few restaurants have permits to serve beer (Kharimati restaurant, Park Hotel restaurant) and one local bar with a liquor licence is the Moon Bar at the new Kharimati Hotel. During tribal festivals, the Santals enjoy rice beer which is served warm, is quite tasty and has a low alcohol content.
- 1 Camellia Hotel, Prantik, ☏ , , , . Check-in: 8AM. ₹950-2000.
- 2 Chutti Holiday Resort, 241 Charupalli, Jamboni (off Sriniketan Rd), ☏ , . Reservation from Kolkata: +91 33 99 0357 0921 Ilaco House, 3/1 Brabourne Road, Kolkata Rs. 1,650 to Rs. 3,540 Special packages available.
- 3 Hotel Royal Bengal, Bhubandanga, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 11:00. 40 A/C rooms with attached attached western toilets with Hot & Cold water,cableTV in rooms, WIFI, Telephone, Room service & House-keeping facilities. Multi-cuisine restaurant has continental, Indian & Chinese options, car parking, IDD telephones and , Landscaped garden along with a children’s play area, banquet/conference facilities, Live cultural shows can be arranged (fee). 24 Hrs Secuity and off-street parking. ₹1550-₹2,650.
- 4 Mark & Meadows Resort, Sriniketan Rd (Gurmukh Jethwani), ☏ . Check-in: 09:00, check-out: 09:00. 3 star property spread over 5 acres with swimming pool, fishing pond, games room, children's park, multicusine restaurant, banquet halls, conference halls, 32 cottage style A/C rooms with running hot/cold water. ₹1,450-₹3,500.
- 5 Raktokorobi Karugram (রক্তকরবী কারুগ্রাম), Ruppur, Bolpur (7 km from Surul More (Sriniketan)), ☏ . Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 10AM. Raktokorobi Karugram is located in the ethnic surroundings of the picturesque village of Ruppur and is just 10 km from Bolpur Railway Station. There are a total of 9 AC duplex huts, all designed in a traditional way, so that visitors can feel at one with the natural space around them and to promote local artistry. The duplex huts have been created using mud, and wall murals have been painted by various tribal artists. Each cottage has a living room, a bedroom, a change room, a bathroom, an open terrace. The multicuisine restaurant serves quality Indian and Chinese dishes. Parking and driver's accommodation free. ₹3500.
- 6 Rater Tara Diner Rabi Guest House (Star at Night, Sun During Day), Tinni House, Phul Danga, Taltor Rd, Behind PHE Bunglow (1km from university campus near to canal and Bird Sanctuary), ☏ , . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12 noon. A double storied garden guesthouse having AC rooms, CTV, Refrigerator, attached western toilets with hot water, fan etc. All rooms & toilets are well maintained & linens are cleaned. Separate driver accommodation is available on nominal charges, car parking is free. ₹1250.00 onwards.
- 7 Santiniketan Tourist Lodge (West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation), Bolpur, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. ₹700-₹900 Non-AC, ₹1900-₹2400 AC.
- Sonajhuri Homestay, Sonajuhri Forest, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 3200.
- 8 Bolpur Lodge, Bhubandanga, ☏ , . ₹150-₹300.
- Country Roads Home Stay, Adjacent to Mela Math, ☏ . American breakfast included. Well maintained. 24 hr cold water available and fridge. ₹750.
- Jiraan-The retreat, ☏ , . ₹700-₹1,500.
- 9 Krishna Chura Homestay, Purbapally, Shantiniketan, Bolpur, ☏ . Hospitable family home with modern facilities.
- Manashi Lodge, ☏ . ₹250-₹500.
- 10 Park Guest House, ☏ . ₹472 for non-A/C, ₹850 for A/C rooms.
- Rangamati Tourist Lodge, Bolpur Rd, ☏ . ₹310-₹750.
- 11 Maharshi Niwas, Ballavpurdanga, Bolpur, ☏ . 10 AC double-bedded cottages ₹1050 per day per cottage.
- 12 Hotel Sathi, Bhubandanga, Bolpur. Rs. 750 onwards.
- 13 Hotel Basundhara, Baganpara,Simantapally,Santiniketan, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Hotel Basundhara is a highly reputed name as the Best Hotel in Bolpur, Santiniketan. Fully equipped AC conference hall is available with all modern facilities and amenities. ₹ 450 Non-A/C - ₹ 750 A/C.
- Bakreshwar - 58 km, Shaktipitha, also famous for the Bakranath Shiva temple and hot springs.
- Durgapur - 60 km, the steel city. One can travel on to Vishnupur another 70 km in the same direction or on to Asansol, another 30 km, along NH2.
- Kankalitala - 9 km, on the bank of the river Kopai, one of the satipeethas.
- Kendubillo - 30 km, on the bank of the river Ajay, believed by many to be the birthplace of 12th century Sanskrit poet Joydeb, author of the masterpiece Geeta Govinda. A fair is held here on Makar Sankranti (mid January). Baul songs are the principal attraction of this mela. There is a temple with terracota decorations.
- Labhpur-Fullara - 30 km, a Shaktipitha, birthplace of Tarashankar Bandopadhyay.
- Massanjore - 75 km, in Dumka district of Jharkhand, a dam across the river Mayurakshi with a picturesque reservoir. One can travel on to Deoghar another 98 km in the same direction.
- Nalhati - 100 km, Shaktipeetha
- Nanoor - 20 km, birthplace of Chandidas, 14th century Sanskrit poet, famous for his Vaishnav Padavalis. There is a temple dedicated to Devi Basuli.
- Sainthia - 44 km, Shaktipeetha
- Surul - near Sriniketan, temples with exquisite terracotta carvings.
- Tarapith - 88 km, Shaktipeetha, famous temple of Tara Devi and/or move on to Rampurhat