Being a Bengali or an Indian, you grow up hearing tales of greatness of this mystical land that one often associates with Rabindranath Tagore. Although, many have heard these tales, only a few can truly comprehend them. Mostly because Shantiniketan is not just the Land of Tagore, but it’s also a place that brings out the intrinsic nature of joy and every other emotion – a place where poetry pours out candidly.
So, if you’re looking to truly experience Shantiniketan in all its transcendent beauty, you’ve stumbled upon the right place. Now, the first step would be to book a hotel which is in close proximity to all the iconic stops that we are about to help you explore. The best place to enjoy a peaceful and luxurious stay at Tagore’s abode is Mohor Kutir, one of the best hotels in Shantiniketan, also one of the few resorts in Shantiniketan with a swimming pool. After you check-in, make sure to freshen up and dig into the mouth-watering food of their restaurant, Panchmeshali. Now that you’re all ready, step out and explore the many beauties of this magical land.
FIRST STOP: VISVA-BHARATI
Established in the year 1921, Visva-Bharati University is an embodiment of Tagore’s ideals – a place that is a site of pilgrimage for many scholars and avid Tagore-eans. As you walk through its hallowed grounds, you get a glimpse of what studying here feels like. The fresh air and cool shades of towering trees under the open blue sky are the real teachers here. History, Geography, and Physics all laid out in their bare bones, taught by the gentle voice of Nature herself. Inside, there are centres like Kala Bhavana, Sangit Bhavana, and Cheena Bhavana, teaching students about fine-arts, music, and the language and culture of China, respectively.
SECOND STOP: THE UTTARAYAN COMPLEX
You have not truly experienced Shantiniketan, until you have visited the Uttarayan Complex. This was the place where Rabindranath Tagore resided. The moment you enter the gates of this establishment, you are engulfed with the artistic brilliance that resides in its every corner. Inside, you’ll find lush gardens and sculptures by Ramkinkar Baij, the legendary Indian artist. The five buildings where Tagore lived and penned down many of his iconic works are named Udayan, Konarka, Shyamali, Punashcha, and Udichi. The closest you’ll get to step into the mind of Tagore is through his well-preserved belongings at Bichitra Sadan. As you gaze through Tagore’s personal belongings the barrier of time breaks down, and suddenly the ethereal artist becomes a man who rekindles the fire of self-expression in you.
THIRD STOP: SUBARNAREKHA
Subarnarekha, popularly known as ‘a bookworm’s paradise’, is a place archiving the works of Tagore and other literary icons. The moment you set foot in this place, a sense of nostalgia will encompass you. The smell of dampened, yellowed pages will take you back to a time where joy came in hard-bound covers – a time sans social-media or other frugal distractions. The moment you pick up a book, time discards its rules and hours go by in seconds, while you stand spellbound by the hard-bounds.
FOURTH STOP: KHOAI MELA
Experience the beauty of Shantiniketan’s rich art and culture at Khoai Mela – a weekly bazaar held by the local artisans to showcase their exquisite craftsmanship. Each piece you pick up from here will entice your senses. The intricacies and the rich history moulded into these wonderful works of art will simply leave you mesmerised – to a point where you cannot help but wonder how, when the world was busy competing in a rat race, the artisans here at Shantiniketan created art that makes everything else seems trivial.
LAST STOP: TAGORE’S ASHRAM
As you reach near the end of your journey, the final place to visit would be Tagore’s Ashram. This place houses the mythos of not just Tagore, but the Nation too. The ashram was founded by Debendranath Tagore and it became the place where the Bramho Samaj was born. He fondly named it Shantiniketan (The Abode of Peace), which was later adopted as the identity of the entire region. Not only that, it is the legendary place where Tagore penned many of his trailblazing literary works. Today, it houses many of his awards, accolades, and personal belongings.
There is something quite magical about Shantiniketan that never fails to bring out the best in you. As you walk around soaking the beauty of the land, it is bound to invoke the desire of bringing your innermost voice out. After this experience, you can’t help but scribble down your unfinished drafts, recite the piece of poetry that you know by heart, or frame the artwork that has been lying around at the bottom of your priority list.