Shantiniketan has become a major tourist spot because of its association with Rabindranath Tagore, one of India's and Bengalís greatest figures. Of course, the natural charm of Santiniketan is a major draw in itself. Numerous social and cultural events taking place through out the year have become part and parcel of Santiniketan.
History of Shantiniketan
Santiniketan was previously called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Dakat, a local dacoit), and owned by the Tagore family. Rabindranath's father, Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, found it very peaceful and renamed it Santiniketan, which means abode (niketan) of peace (shanti). It was here that Rabindranath Tagore started Patha Bhavan the school of his ideals, whose central premise was that learning in a natural environment would be more enjoyable and fruitful. After he received the Noble Prize (1913), the school was expanded into a university. Many world famous teachers have become associated with it, and Indira Gandhi was one of its more illustrious students.
Kala Bhavana, the art college of Santiniketan, is still considered one of the best art colleges in the world. Other institutions here include Vidya Bhavana; the Institute of Humanities, Shiksha Bhavana; the Institute of Science, Sangit Bhavana; Institute of Dance, Drama and Music, Vinaya Bhavana; Institute of Education, Rabindra Bhavana, Institute of Tagore Studies and Research, Palli-Samgathana Vibhaga; Institute of Rural Reconstruction, and Palli Shiksha Bhavana; Institute of Agricultural Sciences.
There are also other centres, affiliated to major institutions such as Nippon Bhavana, the Indira Gandhi Centre for National Integration, Rural Extension Centre, Silpa Sadana; Centre for Rural Craft, Technology and Design, Palli-Charcha Kendra; Centre for Social Studies and Rural Development, Centre for Biotechnology, Centre for Mathematics Education, Centre for Environmental Studies, Computer Centre and Indira Gandhi Centre for National Integration. As well as Patha-Bhavana, there are two schools for kindergarten level education; Mrinalini Ananda Pathsala, Santosh Pathsala; a school for primary and secondary education known as Shiksha Satra, and a school of higher secondary education known as Uttar-Shiksha Sadana.
Geography of Shantiniketan
The 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.
Tourist attractions of Santiniketan
Santiniketan is a University town and a centre of learning. The Uttarayan complex where the poet lived consists of several buildings such as Udayana. Konark, Shyamali, Punascha and Udichi which reflect the architectural genius of the poet's illustrious son the late Rathindranath Tagore. In addition there are Kala Bhavan (College of Fine Arts and Crafts). Sangit Bhavan (College of Music and Dance), Vidya Bhavan (College of Humanities), Siksha-Bhavan (College of Science) and Vinaya Bhavan (Teacher's Training College), Cheena Bhavan and Hindi Bhavan. The Santiniketan campus of Viswa Bharati has grown up to be a centre for learning with a bias towards art, music and humanities. At Shriniketan, mainly a Centre for Rural Service and Studies (Palli Samgathan Bibhaga), there is a college of Agriculture (Palli Siksha Sadan) as well.
The places of interest are mainly on the campus and have a distinctive feature of some of the best in Indian art and culture.
The Cheena Bhavan Includes:
Here Maharshi Devendranath, the father of Rabindranath Tagore, used to meditate. Prayers are held usually at Convocation time. Successful graduates of the Vishwa Bharati University are presented a branch of five leaves each from the Saptaparni trees which abound in the area.
Kala Bhavan : The College of Fine Arts & Crafts has a museum exhibiting sculptures, frescoes & murals and a library of art books.
Patha Bhavan : Now a secondary school, it is of particular interest as an example of the traditional `Brahmacharya Ashram'.
Prayer Hall : Founded by the poet's father in 1863, the hall is made of glass. Prayers are held on Wednesday.
Bichitra : Also called Rabindra Bhavan, a Research Centre and Museum where the poet's personal belongings, paintings & various editions of his works are exhibited.
Sangeet Bhavan : College of Dance and Music. The University is replete with works on Art, Music and the Humanities.
Uttarayan Complex : The poet lived and worked in the Northern Complex consisting of several buildings as : Udayana, Konarka, Shyamali, Punascha and Udichi. The Bichitra ( or, Rabindra Bhavan ) designed by the poet's son Rathindranath Tagore.
Fullora (40 kms), Nalhati (104 kms), Kankalitala (7 kms), Bakreshwar (58 kms): Nearest railway station Dubrajpur 12 kms. WBTDC Tourist Lodges & PWD Inspection Bungalows available
Massanjore (78 kms): Mayurakshi Bhavan, Youth Hostel available to stay there.
Kendubilwa (42 kms): Buses ply from Bolpur railway station. Buses also ply or Kenduli from Calcutta for tourists.
Nanoor (23 kms) : Birthplace of the Vaisnava poet, Chandidas (14th century). Buses ply from Bolpur railway station.
Tarapith (80 kms) : One can reach Tarapith firstly from Bolpur to Rampurhat by train or bus and then 5 kms by bus or cycle rickshaw. Ramkanai Dharamshala a number of hotels are there.
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