Places To Visit In Santiniketan


Places To Visit In Santiniketan

Who knew that within a week there will be complete chaos in the country, who knew it would be the last trip for many months to come. My trip to Santiniketan was in March when COVID-19 had already spread across the world it was almost certain that it was in India too. I was there in Santiniketan to see the annual Dol Jatra which takes place a day before Holi. Something which I always wanted to capture with my camera.

It was a mixed trip as during that time there is a big cultural (Nabanna Utsav) fair that takes place any the company where I work puts up a stall there every year. So it would be both a photography trip as well as a trio to encourage my team members.

Reaching Santiniketan

Surprisingly there are just two ways you can reach Santiniketan one is to take a train to Bolpur (Bolpur Shantiniketan BHP) and then from there take a short e-rickshaw ride to Santiniketan or to take your vehicle be it a car or a motorcycle from Kolkata on a long drive. There are no known direct bus services to Santiniketan from Kolkata. Many hotels and resorts in Santiniketan facilitate parking of vehicles thus this can be a quick and comfortable way to reach Santiniketan.

I initially wanted to take my motorcycle but then I saw that the weatherman had predicted heavy rains thus opted to take the train from Howrah to Bolpur. Being peak season I could not get the fastest train instead took a slower train which takes around five hours to reach Bolpur. In between the train got delayed further due to the predicted heavy rain. To make matters worse my train coach roof was leaking and the compartment floor was full of water.

By the time the train reached its final destination, Bolpur rains had stopped but it was water everywhere. Once you step outside the station there you will find several e-rickshaws which are locally referred to as Toto willing to take you to your hotel anywhere around Bolpur or Santiniketan. They charge somewhere between Rs. 80 to Rs. 150 depending on the time of the day for a fully reserves Toto.

Bolpur Santiniketan Railway Station
Bolpur Santiniketan Railway Station
E-Rickshaw (Toto)
E-Rickshaw (Toto)

Staying at Santiniketan

Several options are available ranging from cheap hotel rooms, guesthouses, and expensive resorts. This place has every budget level accommodations. Keep in mind that this place is a quick weekend destination from Kolkata thus weekends and extended holidays always have sell-out rooms thus plan and book in advance.

If you have booked your hotel or resort online from the aggregator site make sure to call the hotel once before arriving as many hotels have stopped accepting these bookings and I have seen many guests being refused entry. There are some payment related issues with the aggregator sites thus many hotels have refused accepting online bookings.

If you are traveling with family or friends then you have the option of renting full bungalows where you can cook also thus have a fun weekend.

From the station when you are booking your Toto to your hotel make sure the driver knows the hotel location and double-check with him if required.

What to eat at Santiniketan

Trust me you get almost everything out here considering the small town size. There are hundreds of restaurants and most hotels have attached kitchen ready to serve your meal directly to your room. Apart from restaurants if you are adventurous then do check out the street food especially around Nabanna Utsav.

Places to visit around Santiniketan

Visva Bharati University

The most obvious place which anyone visits during their trip to Bolpur is Santiniketan Campus which comes under Visva Bharati University and a place of historic and cultural significance due to the obvious connection with Rabindranath Tagore.

There are many historic buildings, museums to see around the campus. Make sure to have a full day reserved for this if you want to explore all the significant places around the campus. You can do this on foot if the weather is fine or else can hire a Toto to take you around all the important landmark places.

Visva Bharati University Campus Sage - Santiniketan
Visva Bharati University Campus Sage – Santiniketan
Chhatim Tala – Santiniketan (Place Where Rabindranath Tagore Used To Take Classes)
Chhatim Tala – Santiniketan (Place Where Rabindranath Tagore Used To Take Classes)
Brahmo Mandir – Prayer Hall for Brahmo Samaj Members at Santiniketan
Brahmo Mandir – Prayer Hall for Brahmo Samaj Members at Santiniketan
Santiniketan Griha – House Built By Debendranath Tagore (father of Rabindranath Tagore)
Santiniketan Griha – House Built By Debendranath Tagore (father of Rabindranath Tagore)
Santiniketan Griha – Tagore Resided In This House When He First Came to Santiniketan
Santiniketan Griha – Tagore Resided In This House When He First Came to Santiniketan

Unfortunately for me the day I was supposed to visit the Santiniketan campus that very day the government had declared all government-owned public spots to shut down due to COVID-19. I could not enter the museum and some university buildings but could take a look around the main campus section.

Some of the heritage structures within this complex are Amarakunja, Chaiti, Chhatimtala, Deer Park, Dwija Viram, Ghanta Tala, Gour Prangana, Kalo Bari, Kuthi Bari, Mandir, Pratichi, Santiniketan Griha, Singha Sadana, Tala Dhwaja, Tin Pahar, and Uttarayana/Rabindra Bhavana.

There are no entry tickets for the Santiniketan complex. Tickets only required for Rabindra Bhavana Museum which includes Santiniketan Griha. There are no official guides as such and you will find many people offering guide service for a fee, please negotiate and understand what all places will be covered before availing such services.

Buddhist Style Gate with a Brass Bell – Landmark and a Meeting Point at Santiniketan
Buddhist Style Gate with a Brass Bell – Landmark and a Meeting Point at Santiniketan
Left Building of Singha Sadan – Santiniketan
Left Building of Singha Sadan – Santiniketan
Singha Sadan (Building With Two Bell Towers) – Santiniketan
Singha Sadan (Building With Two Bell Towers) – Santiniketan
Patha Bhavan (Main School Building) - Santiniketan
Patha Bhavan (Main School Building) – Santiniketan
Traditional Classrooms at Santiniketan
Traditional Classrooms at Santiniketan
Junior School Section at Santiniketan
Junior School Section at Santiniketan
Santoshaloy (Boys Hostel) - Santiniketan
Santoshaloy (Boys Hostel) – Santiniketan
Amro Kunja - Santiniketan
Amro Kunja – Santiniketan
Ticket Prices:-
Adults – Rs. 50
Children & Student – Rs. 10
Foreigners – Rs. 300
Website:-
http://www.visvabharati.ac.in/Museums.html

Museum remains closed on Wednesday and Thursday along with other government holidays.

Apart from Visva Bharati University, there are other prime attractions around Santiniketan which you must visit to get the flavor of this place.

Srijani Shilpagram

This is like an artificial village setup showcasing the culture of Bengal and its different village life especially that of the various scheduled tribes that reside around this region. This place is an open enclosure with water bodies, artificial huts, and home, museum, open-air gallery, and a place where you can buy local handicraft items directly from the local manufacturers.

Ticket Prices:-
Adults – Rs. 10
Children (up to 12 years) – Rs. 5
Still Camera – Rs. 10
Video Camera – Rs. 500
Srijani Shilpagram – Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Statues of Famous Adivasi Leaders – Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Statues of Famous Adivasi Leaders – Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Fountain – Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Fountain – Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Traditional Tribal Hut Style Exhibition Hall - Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Traditional Tribal Hut Style Exhibition Hall – Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram - Exhibition of Traditional Tribal Art
Srijani Shilpagram – Exhibition of Traditional Tribal Art
Srijani Shilpagram – Stone Sculptures
Srijani Shilpagram – Stone Sculptures
Srijani Silpagram – Model Traditional Tribal House at Santiniketan
Srijani Silpagram – Model Traditional Tribal House at Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Model Traditional Tribal House at Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Model Traditional Tribal House at Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Model Traditional Tribal House at Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Model Traditional Tribal House at Santiniketan
Srijani Shilpagram – Pond
Srijani Shilpagram – Pond
Srijani Shilpagram – Handicraft Products on Sale
Srijani Shilpagram – Handicraft Products on Sale

Amar Kutir

This place is a cooperative society for artisans and local handicraft makers. The main building features two-storied showrooms from where you can buy leather, wood, and clothes items at a fixed and very reasonable rate. Must buy items would be batik print products, shola art, traditional musical instruments like ektara, lac bangles, notepads, etc. There is an open stage right next to this showroom complex where you can hear some live traditional Baul songs.

There is no entry fee for this place. Photography is not allowed inside the showroom but allowed elsewhere. The Baul singers and performers expect a tip if you listen to their songs and click photographs.

Website:-
http://www.amarkutir.org/
Amar Kutir (Main Showroom Building) – Santiniketan
Amar Kutir (Main Showroom Building) – Santiniketan
Amar Kutir – Santiniketan
Amar Kutir – Santiniketan
Unique Public Toilet at Amar Kutir with Traditional Style Painting
Unique Public Toilet at Amar Kutir with Traditional Style Painting
Amar Kutir – Children’s Play Area & Batik Print Workshop
Amar Kutir – Children’s Play Area & Batik Print Workshop
Amar Kutir – Exhibition Hall - Santiniketan
Amar Kutir – Exhibition Hall – Santiniketan
Amar Kutir – Exhibition Hall - Santiniketan
Amar Kutir – Exhibition Hall – Santiniketan
Amar Kutir – Exhibition Hall - Santiniketan
Amar Kutir – Exhibition Hall – Santiniketan
Amar Kutir – Open Air Performance Stage
Amar Kutir – Open Air Performance Stage

Kopai River

This small river is located right next to Amar Kutir and you just need to follow the unpaved mud road towards the river bank. This is a popular picnic spot and don’t be surprised to see groups of tourists cooking in the open and enjoying a day off.

Don’t be disappointed by the size of the river and you will hardly find any water in the dry season however during the monsoon this small river swells up and often spreads well over its original path.

Take some time out and rest under a tree shade and enjoy the view while the streams of water slowly move on.

Unpaved Path towards Kopai River at Santiniketan
Kopai River - Santiniketan
Kopai River – Santiniketan
Kopai River
Kopai River
Kopai River - Santiniketan
Kopai River – Santiniketan
Kopai River at Santiniketan – View From the Bridge
Kopai River at Santiniketan – View From the Bridge
Picnic Area around Kopai River - Santiniketan
Picnic Area around Kopai River – Santiniketan

Amar Kutir Heshel Ghor

This is a restaurant situated within the leather workshop of Amar Kutir complex. This place is located around two hundred meters from the showroom complex. I would personally recommend the food out here and is best to have a full meal and add on non-vegetarian items. You will be served in traditional brass plates and the taste of the food is simply delicious.

Amar Kutir Heshel Ghor – Located at Leather Workshop
Amar Kutir Heshel Ghor – Located at Leather Workshop
Amar Kutir Heshel Ghor - Santiniketan
Amar Kutir Heshel Ghor – Santiniketan
Amar Kutir Heshel Ghor – Menu List in Bangla
Amar Kutir Heshel Ghor – Menu List in Bangla

Eco Park

This is a small and beautiful park located near Amar Kutir. There was once a boating facility but now the boats are non-functional. This is more of a couple’s park and is covered with trees and ponds. Only mobile photography is allowed inside the park for free.

Ticket Prices:-
Adults & Children – Rs. 20
Boating – Rs. 20
Still Camera – Rs. 300 per hour
Timing:-
10 AM to 5 PM
Eco Park - Santiniketan
Eco Park – Santiniketan
Eco Park at Santiniketan
Eco Park at Santiniketan
Eco Park at Santiniketan
Eco Park at Santiniketan
Eco Park at Santiniketan
Eco Park at Santiniketan

Buddha Statue and Stupa

There is a Buddha status are two stored high along with two small stupas which one can visit. This place is still under construction and is being expanded. This place has been built by Santiniketan Ambedkar Buddhist Welfare Mission.

Buddha Statue and Stupa - Santiniketan
Buddha Statue and Stupa – Santiniketan
Stupa at Santiniketan
Stupa at Santiniketan
Buddha Statue at Santiniketan
Buddha Statue at Santiniketan
Santiniketan Ambedkar Buddhist Welfare Mission Park - Santiniketan
Santiniketan Ambedkar Buddhist Welfare Mission Park – Santiniketan

Prakriti Bhavan

This is a nature art museum with displays in the open as well as in uniquely styled buildings. The basic theme of this place is to use natural stones and tree bark and give it a shape to resemble an object or animal. For that matter, some are open to interpretation as per your imagination.

There are a rock sculpture courtyard and four galleries situated in two double storied buildings. You will also find metal sculptures in one of the galleries.

Ticket Prices:-
Adults & Children – Rs. 30
Still Camera – Rs. 30
Website:-
https://prakritibhavan.org/
Prakriti Bhavan at Santiniketan
Prakriti Bhavan at Santiniketan
Prakriti Bhavan – Rock Sculpture Courtyard
Prakriti Bhavan – Rock Sculpture Courtyard
Prakriti Bhavan – Rock Sculpture Courtyard - Santiniketan
Prakriti Bhavan – Rock Sculpture Courtyard – Santiniketan
Prakriti Bhavan – Display Gallery - Santiniketan
Prakriti Bhavan – Display Gallery – Santiniketan
Prakriti Bhavan – Exhibits
Prakriti Bhavan – Exhibits
Prakriti Bhavan – Exhibits
Prakriti Bhavan – Exhibits

Sonajhuri Haat

This is possibly the most famous stop one has to take while touring Santiniketan. This place is also called Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat which literary means Sonajhuri Saturday Open Market. If you are visiting during Holi then this place is open every day else during the off-season this place only operates as the name suggests on a Saturday.

This place is the place for all your shopping needs, you will get everything locally made and sold by local villagers. Don’t forget to bargain but keep in mind that these are local villagers who make these things at home and avoid squeezing out a lot.

You should not be surprised to see traditional Santhali dance being performed, if you are adventurous do shake your hips along with them.

This place is also referred to as Khoai Sonibarer Haat or Khoai Haat.

Sonajhuri Haat – Even the Police Assistance Booth Has Been Done With Local Flavour
Sonajhuri Haat – Even the Police Assistance Booth Has Been Done With Local Flavour
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Traditional Market and Santali Dancers
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Traditional Market and Santali Dancers
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat or Khoai Sonibarer Haat or Khoai Haat.
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat or Khoai Sonibarer Haat or Khoai Haat.
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Traditional Colourful Khadi Garments
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Traditional Colourful Khadi Garments
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Handmade Thread and Beads Necklaces
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Handmade Thread and Beads Necklaces
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Ektara (Traditional Musical Instrument used By Bauls)
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Ektara (Traditional Musical Instrument used By Bauls)
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat - Necklaces
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Necklaces
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Bamboo Bangles
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Bamboo Bangles
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Ear Tops
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Ear Tops
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Ear Tops
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Ear Tops
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Hawkers Celebrating Holi amongst Themselves at Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Hawkers Celebrating Holi amongst Themselves at Santiniketan
Sweet Curd and Rabri Seller at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat in Santiniketan
Sweet Curd and Rabri Seller at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat in Santiniketan
Traditionally Made Rabri with Wood Fire at Sonajhuri Haat Santiniketan
Traditionally Made Rabri with Wood Fire at Sonajhuri Haat Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Traditional Cane Chairs
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Traditional Cane Chairs
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Traditional Toys
Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Traditional Toys

Shakuntala Restaurant

This restaurant is located right within Sonajhuri Haat with a fantastic view of the market from the top floor which has open sides. Check out their delicious thali meal and do not forget to try the Kosha Mangsho (mutton).

Shakuntala Restaurant at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat
Shakuntala Restaurant at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat
Interiors of Shakuntala Restaurant at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat
Interiors of Shakuntala Restaurant at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat
Shakuntala Restaurant at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Rice Served in Traditional Brass Plates
Shakuntala Restaurant at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Rice Served in Traditional Brass Plates
Shakuntala Restaurant at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Food Menu
Shakuntala Restaurant at Sonajhuri Sonibarer Haat – Food Menu

Sonajhuri Forest

This place is located right next to Sonajhuri Haat and it’s a Sal forest. On a beautiful spring morning with blue skies and yellow-green leafy Sal trees, this place looks simply beautiful.

Made popular by the Bengali TV Serial Ishti Kutum which was shot around this forest and the nearby tribal village this place is slowly becoming a major tourist attraction. The local villagers have marked the spot where the protagonist Bahamoni had her wedding.

Sonajhuri Forest – Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Forest – Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Forest – Sal Trees at Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Forest – Sal Trees at Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Forest – Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Forest – Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Forest – The Spot Where Bahamuni’s Wedding Scene Was Shot - Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Forest – The Spot Where Bahamuni’s Wedding Scene Was Shot – Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Forest – Santiniketan
Sonajhuri Forest – Santiniketan

Boner Pukur Danga

This is a Santali Adivasi village located near Sonajhuri Forest. A trip to this village will give you a sneak peek at a typical Santali village life. The houses have beautifully decorated outer walls and every house is different from each other. These traditional art and wall painting style are done by the members of the house only.

Boner Pukur Danga – Santali Village at Santiniketan
Boner Pukur Danga – Santali Village at Santiniketan
Boner Pukur Danga – Santali Village at Santiniketan with Beautifully Paints Walls
Boner Pukur Danga – Santali Village at Santiniketan with Beautifully Paints Walls
Boner Pukur Danga – Santali Village at Santiniketan with Traditional Houses
Boner Pukur Danga – Santali Village at Santiniketan with Traditional Houses
Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan – These Are Traditional Colours Used In Painting Walls
Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan – These Are Traditional Colours Used In Painting Walls
Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan
Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan
Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan
Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan
Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan
Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan
Boner Pukur Danga – With Traditional Tribal Wall Motifs at Santiniketan
Boner Pukur Danga – With Traditional Tribal Wall Motifs at Santiniketan

Marang Buru Temple

This is a Santali temple located at Boner Pukur Danga village. The Santali people belong to the Adivasi community thus for them Marang Buru is the supreme deity the creator of everything. The temple remains empty and only during the festivity does this place becomes the center of village activity.

Marang Buru Temple at Boner Pukur Danga - Santiniketan
Marang Buru Temple at Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan
Interiors of Marang Buru Temple at Boner Pukur Danga - Santiniketan
Interiors of Marang Buru Temple at Boner Pukur Danga – Santiniketan

Kankalitala Temple

The location of this temple is a bit far from the main Santiniketan town and takes around 30  – 40 minutes to reach in a Toto. One reason you should not miss visiting this temple is due to the fantastic view of the Kopai River.

This is a small temple but of great significance since this is a Shakti Peeth. This means that according to mythology the bones from the corpse of Sati Devi fell here when Shiva was carrying here. The word Kankal in Bangla means skeleton and since her bones had fallen here thus the name Kankalitala.

Kankalitala Temple - Entrance
Kankalitala Temple – Entrance
Kankalitala Temple – Shops Selling Items for Performing Puja at the Temple
Kankalitala Temple – Shops Selling Items for Performing Puja at the Temple
Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Interiors of Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Interiors of Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Water Tank Next To Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Water Tank Next To Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Way to Ghaat - Kopai River at Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Way to Ghaat – Kopai River at Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Kopai River at Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Kopai River at Kankalitala Temple – Bolpur
Kopai River at Bolpur
Kopai River at Bolpur
Kopai River at Kankalitala Temple
Kopai River at Kankalitala Temple

Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Deer Park

This is a small reserves forest and is home to hundreds of various types of deer. If you visit them early morning when they are fed then you will be stunned to see their sheer number. There are watchtowers around the sanctuary from where you can get a panoramic view of the park.

Entry Fee:-
Adult – Rs. 50
Children (Below 12) – Rs. 5
Students – Rs. 5
Website:-
http://www.wildbengal.com/ballavpur-wls.php
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Deer Park – Entrance - Santiniketan
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Deer Park – Entrance – Santiniketan
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Deer Park - Santiniketan
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Deer Park – Santiniketan
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Deer Park
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Deer Park
Deer Park - Santiniketan
Deer Park – Santiniketan
Deer Park – Santiniketan - Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary
Deer Park – Santiniketan – Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary – Watch Tower
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary – Watch Tower
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary – Santiniketan
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary – Santiniketan
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary – Santiniketan
Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary – Santiniketan

Nabanna Utsav

This is the annual Folk Art and Craft Fair that takes place at Santiniketan. Every evening there is a musical performance at the grand stage. Along with local art, you can check the food stalls out there. Overall there is a fairground like atmosphere out here thus making the place very lively.

Website:-
http://www.samt.co.in/nabanna.html
Nabanna Utsav at Santiniketan
Nabanna Utsav at Santiniketan
Shops at Nabanna Utsav at Santiniketan
Shops at Nabanna Utsav at Santiniketan
Shops at Nabanna Utsav at Santiniketan
Shops at Nabanna Utsav at Santiniketan

All these places can easily be covered in two full days but it also depends on the season you are visiting. Winter and early summer months are popular high tourist times at Santiniketan thus prices of Toto tours, hotels, and the cost of items that are being sold also increases. If you want to travel during Holi then plan at least two months else getting a decent hotel room becomes impossible also train tickets become waitlisted.

If you are photographing Baul singers please do tip them as that is the only way for them to earn a living. While traveling around Santiniketan Campus do remember that this is a prestigious world-famous institution where you have students from all over the world thus avoid becoming too intrusive in the daily activities of the students.

Thank you for visiting my blog do keep checking out my new blogs which I try my level best to post one per week, thanks again.

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