The district of Birbhum in West Bengal was ruled by the Bir Rajas and is known as the ‘Land of the Brave’. Some regard it as the Land of the Red Soil. As West Bengal is the cultural hub of India, so is Birbhum the religious hub of Bengal which has a culture of its own. There are a lot of sacred and holy places which are very famous among pilgrims and they are immersed in the richness of the cultural heritage of India in general, and Bengal in particular. This article will list out the top 5 places one should not miss out while visiting Birbhum. Here we go:
Santiniketan is a small town where the Visva-Bharati University is located. The University is an epitome of cultural heritage and marks the confluence of ideals of both the East and the West. It was established by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore as a unique centre for learning. Out of numerous socio-cultural events held here, the Poush Mela attracts a lot of people as this fair brings together artisans, folk singers and dancers on one platform. The fair lasts for three days and celebrates the beautiful culture of the land. At a distance of 3 km from Santiniketan, the Ballabhpur Wildlife Sanctuary is located. It is popularly known as Deer Park. The Spotted deer and the Blackbuck can be found here. It is also a natural bird sanctuary and attracts a lot of tourists and nature lovers.
2. Shakti Peeth
There are legendary tales about how Shakti or Sati self-immolated herself outraged at Daksha’s insult of Shiva. Following which a sorrowful Shiva performed the Rudra Tandav, carried the remains of her body which fell and scattered in different corners of the Indian subcontinent. The Tarapith is regarded as the place where Sati’s eye ball (tara) fell, Kankalitala where Sati’s waist fell. Moreover, the Nalateshwari temple in Nalhati is regarded as a Pitha and is located on a hill.
3. Jaydev Kenduli
A huge number of pilgrims and bauls (folk) attend the annual fair held in the village Kenduli which is regarded as the birth-place of the great Sanskrit poet, Jaydev. It emerged as a religious centre with the establishment of numerous hermitages. The Bauls are a special attraction as they are a group of minstrels and the mysticism in their folk music is enthralling and unique.
The ‘Data Saheber Mela’ is held annually during the month of March-April. It is believed that the Sufi thinker and saint, Hazrat Data Meheboob Shah Wali breathed his last in this place. His tomb is situated in this village which is visited by lakhs of pilgrims, especially to commemorate Data Saheb’s death anniversary. It is said that the saint had miraculous powers to cure diseases with ashes of dust.
Bakreswar is geologically renowned due to the presence of many hot springs which are believed to cure chronic ailments. The Khar Kunda, Bhairav Kunda, Agni Kunda, Dudh Kunda and Surya Kunda are some of the famous ones where the temperature of the water is above 60 degrees Celsius. Bakreswar also houses a Shiva temple and a large number of pilgrims worship and offer their prayers here.
Birbhum is one destination which will bring about peace and calm in one’s mind, body and soul. It will definitely enrich us with newer and fresher perspectives of life as we know it. Also, if you love collecting souvenirs do visit the Amar Kutir Society for Rural Development to get to know the creative side of Bengal’s legacy. Be it the kantha-stitched sarees, leather goods or bamboo crafts – these handmade art and craft items will definitely lure everyone! Do carry some of these memories home.
Other Major Tourist Destinations In West Bengal: