Bengal, dear reader, is for those who love culture with hearts and souls. Because you see, it has got both aplenty. There is no dearth of art, and pioneered by none other than Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. And who can fail to know that Shantiniketan was this man’s haunt? From palatial buildings to open air universities, music and dance dens to museums, colourful Holi to colourful flea markets, this destination attracts families, schools on excursion, and honeymooners alike, all through the year peaking at certain times. If you want to experience the joy of life as art gives it, you should hear Shantiniketan calling out your name by now. Following are the 5 best places to visit here.
1. The Tagore House
This is the hideout of the great man himself. It was built by his father, and features a huge huge premise, with manicured fields surrounding the main house. Built in old Bengali style, it has rooms with artworks in it, some are empty and some contain articles of daily use. The Tagore House is the best place to visit if you want glimpses into how the great writer went about navigating the trials of daily life. It is advisable to take a car to tour inside Shantiniketan, and you can talk to the natives for wonderful histories about the places.
2. Amar Kutir
Amar Kutir is the marketing head as well as the history encyclopaedia of Shantiniketan. It houses numerous products, some hand stitched or cloth made, lac made, very colourful, and mostly for clothing or home decor and show. It is also a history museum with authentic artefacts on display. This was importantly involved with the Indian National Independence uprising organisations, but the most noteworthy missing link is that Tagore never had absolutely anything to do with it, against popular belief to the contrary.
This is one of the many tourist attractions surrounding the magnificent Viswabharathi. Chhatimtala was constructed by Tagore Sr, Debendranath Tagore, to propagate the universal usefulness of the art of meditation and the practice still holds today. Visited by people from all walks of life, this is the place to immerse oneself in prayer and feel come to life the essence of the Tagore that lived and breathed in the grounds. The structure is simplistic and pretty, with the eponymous trees surrounding the place.
4. Kala Bhavan
This is an art wing of the universally famous Viswabharati educational institution founded by Tagore. On first visit to the place, you will be taken in by the electrically done front visuals-the patterns in visual Aztec like patterns clashing with scenery style, in eye catching black and white captivate the viewer like no other. Kala Bhavan has patrons eminent far and wide in the whole world and serves as a prominent centre for educating students in the arts. It is close to the Viswabharathi campus and should be included in tour itineraries.
5. The Rabindra Bharati Museum
This is a final fitting, satisfying end to your artsy, Tagore hunting vacation. Rabindra Bharati museum is an abode of art collections from the man himself, authentic and diverse as it could get, branching out into song, poetry and written document collections. There are manuscripts as well. Set on vast grounds, spacious like everything here, and done up in the same Bengali Zamindari style, this boasts of being one of the most impressive Tagore effect collection houses around. This should definitely be visited to look into historical art, building heritage, and a touch of peace and satisfaction to yourself.
Shantiniketan is an ideal place for a myriad and diverse sort of tourist population. There are the Tagore aficionados looking to understand him better, in which case it is rarely the first visit, there are the literature and culture lovers of faraway lands looking to examine closely this monumentally significant destination, or kids or families on holiday looking for an erudite leisure experience. Also, the unbiased history lovers, how can they ever be forgotten?
Shantiniketan is welcoming most of the time, and plan ahead well in advance, make lists to max out your vacation experience in this land of the poets and Baul musicians. Here is to hoping you come back inspired to write a bestseller of your own.