Santiniketan (Bengali: শান্তিনিকেতন SHAHN-tih-nih-keh-tawn) is a town in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. The town is home to the Visva-Bharati University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1921.
Santiniketan was founded as an ashram by Debendranath Tagore in the second half of the 19th century and then developed into a university town by Rabindranath Tagore, the leading figure of the Bengali Renaissance.
Santiniketan has produced such diverse personalities as Indira Gandhi (once a Prime Minister of India) and Amartya Sen (a Nobel laureate) and has been home to great artists and musicians. Santiniketan is also famous for the baul culture. Around 1.2 million visitors visit Santiniketan annually.
- Rabindranath, Santiniketan, Sriniketan by Tapan Kumar Basak. Available locally.
The nearest airport is Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport (RDP IATA) at Durgapur, but only a few flights are present at the airport. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU IATA) at Kolkata is the nearest airport to get to Santiniketan smoothly.
- See also: Rail travel in India
Santiniketan is two to three hours by train from Kolkata, depending on the departing railway station. For schedules check with Indian Railways.
If you are travelling with a lot of baggage, you may struggle for space even in reserved cars, and hiring a car may be a better alternative to reach Santiniketan.
- 1 Bolpur Shantiniketan railway station (station code: BHP). Convenient connections are 13017/13018 Gana Devta Express departing Howrah station (station code: HWH) at 06:05, 3015/3016 Shantiniketan Express departing Howrah at 10:05AM (this is the only train which originates/terminates in HWH and BHP, 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, it won't make a difference), 2347/2348 Sahid Rampurhat Express departing Howrah at noon (and taking only 2 hr 20 min - the shortest time), 3011/3012 Malda Inter-city Express departing Howrah at 3:25PM, 5657/5658 Kanchenjunga Express departing Sealdah at 6:45AM, 2345/2346 Saraighat Express, 215/216 Visvabharati Fast Passenger, 3071/3072 Jamalpur Express, 209/210 Darbhanga Passenger are other good trains.
- 2 Prantik railway station. Few express and passengers trains stop there.
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.
- 3 Bolpur Bus Station.
Santiniketan is 212 km (132 mi) from Kolkata by road. Good drivers can cover the distance in about 3 hours.
Santiniketan is connected with Kolkata by an excellent 4-lane freeway. From Kolkata, travel to Dankuni and take the Durgapur Expressway (NH 19, formerly NH 2). It will bypass Saktigarh, Bardhaman and Panagarh. At Panagarh (Darjeeling More), turn right. After the expressway crosses the Ajay river take the road to the right at Ilambazar and proceed towards Bolpur. At the Santiniketan-Sriniketan junction (also called Surul More) take the road to the left. Coming from the direction of Kolkata, one can also take the NH 114 route via Talit-Guskara-Bhedia-Surul More by taking a right turn from the Durgapur Expressway just after crossing Bardhaman on the right (where the Renaissance Township is on the left) and taking this route via Nababhat More. It saves time and the distance is less from the above route by about 50 km.
Electric rickshaws (locally known as totos) are the most convenient and cheap means of transportation these days. The older cycle rickshaws are still available and can be availed, though it would cost more. 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.
Hired cars and taxis are not always readily available.
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.
- Look out for sculptures and frescoes of Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij and Binode Bihari Mukherjee, particularly around Kala Bhavana.
- Brahmo Mandir. Upasana Griha, constructed in 1891
- 1 Kalo Bari. Profusely decorated
- 2 Gitanjali Rail Museum, Station Rd (opposite Bolpur Shantiniketan railway station).
Ballavpur and environsEdit
- 3 Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary (Deer Park). 10AM–4PM (closed W). At the northwestern fringes of Santiniketan, Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary is just the perfect getaway for your next weekend. The lush sanctuary contains three large waterbodies (ঝিল jhihl) which host migratory as well as resident birds in plenty. It is home to numerous spotted deer, blackbucks and other resident animals like jackals and foxes. The whole sanctuary is a protected area with watchtowers and jungle paths to walk around and catch glimpses of deer and other wildlife.
- 4 Kopai River.
- 5 Prakriti Bhavan (প্রকৃতি ভবন PROHCK-(r)ih-tih BHAW-bohn), Amar Kutir Rd, Kabi Mohanpur. 9AM–5PM daily. 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 people with nature through art, music and poetry.
- Shilpa Gram (near Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary). It is designed very nicely and showcases tranditional handicrafts of eastern and north-eastern India (including Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Manipur, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Jharkhand). Each state is represented by a traditional house which has collection of paintings and articraft. The place is maintained neatly and has good collection of cultural elements.
Sriniketan and SurulEdit
- 6 Surul Rajbari (5 minutes walk from Surul Bazaar.). 8AM-6PM. The small temples with terracotta carvings are to the left of the Rajbari as one faces the Rajbari. Durga Puja still takes place here in a complete home fashion as it used more than 250 years back when it was started.
Established in 1921, the Visva-Bharati University is a brainchild of Rabindranath Tagore. It is a unique learning centre in the sense that the education takes place under a tree, instead of in a classroom. Visitors are not allowed to loiter around educational centres during working hours as these disturb the classes being held.
- 7 Bangladesh Bhavana. Well-designed new addition with auditorium.
- 8 Cheena Bhavana (চীনাভবন CHIH-nah-bhaw-bohn).
- 9 Chhatimtala. Prayer place (under the "Chhatim" tree) of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore.
- 10 Hindi Bhavana. Hindi study centre
- 11 Kala Bhavana (কলাভবন KAW-lah-bhaw-bohn). College of fine arts and crafts, has a museum exhibiting sculptures, frescoes and murals and a library of art books.
- 12 Nippon Bhavana. Japan study centre
- 13 Patha Bhavana. Secondary school, is of particular interest, being an example of the traditional Brahmacharya Ashram.
- 14 Rabindra Bhavana Museum. Open on working days from 10:30AM-4:30PM. 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 Bhavana Museum is ₹10 for students, ₹50 for Indians and ₹300 for foreigners.
- 15 Sangeet Bhavana. College of music and dance.
- 16 Tagore's Ashrama. Closed on Wednesdays. One has to walk through the area. Guides are generally available outside Uttarayan Complex/Rabindra Bhavana, otherwise one has to follow the crowd. The first building in the area was a guest house built in 1863 by Maharshi Debendranath 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 Debendranath Tagore. The area has several buildings associated with the Tagores—Santiniketan Griha, 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. Some distance away on the eastern side is a small hillock with a large banyan tree. It was a favourite of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore.
- Briksharopana. Planting of saplings and Halakarshana ploughing of the fields on 22-23 Shrabon (August).
- Maghotsav. Anniversary of Brahmo Samaj celebrated on the 11 Magh (25 January), with prayers and songs at Chhatimtala.
- 1 Poush Mela. The fair is held from 7-9 Poush (22/23-25 December). 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 Boishakh (8/9 May), the anniversary as well as the Bengali New Year (Nobo Barsho) is celebrated on the first day of the Bengali New Year (Poila Boishakh) 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.
- 2 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.).
- 1 Amar Kutir. Many handicrafts like cloth, leather, batiks, hand-loomed fabrics and similar available.
- Handicrafts. Batik prints, leather craft. A favourable time for shopping is during the Poush Mela. The unique style of embroidery associated with Santiniketan is known as 'kantha stitch'. 'Sudha Karu Shilpa' in Andrews Palli, Santiniketan, 'Amar Kutir' in Sriniketan, and 'Basundhara' in Sonajhuri offer quality kantha stitchwork in the form of sarees, and dupattas throughout the year. Other handicrafts like dhokra (artistic brassware from nearby Ausgram), leather bags, bamboo toys and locally handwoven cotton are also worth a look.
- 2 Saturday Market (Khoai Mela), Sonajhuri. Sa 3PM–5:30PM. Variety of items available, including local handicrafts. Baul programmes organised.
- 3 Radhashyam Agarwala, Santiniketan Rd.
- 1 Madhurima, Santiniketan Rd. A sweet shop on the way to Santiniketan.
- 2 SK Restaurant, Bolpur-Santiniketan Rd, ☏ +91 9434132416. 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 Suri 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.
|Note: To avoid the unsavory, corrupt, and thoroughly untrustworthy booking services based in Kolkata, it is best to get a place to stay on arrival without advance reservation.|
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Mid-range||₹1000 to ₹3000|
- 1 Rangabitan Tourism Property, ☏ +91 86979 84960. Run by West Bengal Tourism.
- 2 Bolpur Lodge, Bhubandanga, ☏ +91 3463 252662, +91 3463 252737. ₹150-300.
- Country Roads Home Stay (adjacent to Mela Math), ☏ +91 9903398059. American breakfast included. Well maintained. 24 hr cold water available and fridge. ₹750.
- 3 Krishna Chura Homestay, Purbapally, ☏ +91 9748445544. Hospitable family home with modern facilities.
- 4 Maharshi Niwas, ☏ +91 3463-202821. 10 AC double-bedded cottages ₹1050 per day per cottage.
- Manashi Lodge, ☏ +91 3463 254200. ₹250-500.
- 5 Park Guest House, ☏ +91 3463 226286. ₹472 for non-A/C, ₹850 for A/C rooms.
- Rangamati Tourist Lodge, Bolpur Rd, ☏ +91 3463-252305. ₹310-₹750.
- 6 Hotel Sathi, Bhubandanga. From ₹750.
- 7 Hotel Basundhara, Baganpara, Simantapally, ☏ +91-9434132549, 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-AC - ₹750 AC.
- 8 Camellia Hotel, Prantik, ☏ +91 3463 262043, +91 33 2334 4069, +91 3463 2321 9688, +91 9007030199. Check-in: 8AM. ₹950-2000.
- 9 Hotel Royal Bengal, Bhubandanga, ☏ +91 90 0798 2002, +91 97 4810 2002, firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. 40 A/C rooms with attached attached western toilets with Hot & Cold water,cableTV in rooms, WI-FI, 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-hr secuity and off-street parking. ₹1550-2,650.
- Jiraan-The retreat, ☏ +91 9333510012, +91 9332083644. ₹700-1,500.
- 10 Rater Tara Diner Rabi Guest House (Star at Night, Sun During Day), Tinni House, Phul Danga, Taltor Rd, Behind PHE Bunglow (1 km from university campus near to canal and Bird Sanctuary), ☏ +91 98 3004 8007, +91 94 3301 4277. Check-in: 1PM. 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. From ₹1250.
- 11 Shantobitan Tourism Property (Santiniketan Tourist Lodge), ☏ +91 3463-252398, +91 9732100920, email@example.com. Run by West Bengal Tourism. ₹700-900 Non-AC, ₹1900-2400 AC.
- 12 Chutti Holiday Resort, 241 Charupalli, Jamboni (off Sriniketan Rd), ☏ +91 34 6325 2692, +91 34 6325 5015. Reservation from Kolkata: +91 33 99 0357 0921 Ilaco House, 3/1 Brabourne Road ₹1,650- 3,540 Special packages available.
- 13 Mark & Meadows Resort, Sriniketan Rd (Gurmukh Jethwani), ☏ +91 94 3400 7777. Check-in: 9AM, check-out: 9AM. 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.
- 14 Raktokorobi Karugram (রক্তকরবী কারুগ্রাম), Ruppur (7 km from Surul More (Sriniketan)), ☏ +91 9903392484. Check-in: 11AM, check-out: 10AM. Raktokorobi Karugram is located in the ethnic surroundings of the picturesque village of Ruppur and is 10 km from Bolpur Railway Station. There are 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.
- Sonajhuri Homestay, Sonajuhri Forest, ☏ +91 9830011715, firstname.lastname@example.org. ₹3200.
- 1 Biswa Bangla Biswabidyalay (Bolpur University). Although the university is newer and less-visited compared to the Visva-Bharati University, it also celebrates festivals like Vasanta Utsav.
- 2 Kankalitala, 9 km (5.6 mi) from Santiniketan. It is one of the 51 Shakti Pithas. According to mythology, when the dead body of Goddess Parvati was cut by Lord Vishnu, her waist fell at Kankalitala.
- 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 Bishnupur another 70 km in the same direction or on to Asansol, another 30 km, along NH 19.
- Kendubillo - 30 km, on the bank of the river Ajay, believed by many to be the birthplace of 12th century Sanskrit poet Jaydev, 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 - 30 km, a Shaktipitha, birthplace of Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay.
- Massanjore - 75 km, in Dumka district of Jharkhand, a dam across the river Mayurakshi with a picturesque reservoir. You can travel on to Deoghar another 98 km in the same direction.
- Nalhati - 100 km, Shakti Pitha
- Nanoor - 20 km, birthplace of Chandidas, 14th century Sanskrit poet, famous for his Vaishnava Padavalis. There is a temple dedicated to Devi Basuli.
- Sainthia - 44 km, Shaktipeetha
- Tarapith - 88 km, Shaktipeetha, famous temple of Tara Devi