Posted by: adminRST
Category: Santiniketan Travel
Upasana Griha

Very recently, a show had aired on Netflix – ‘Blown Away’, where glass artisans from all over North America assembled at the Corning Museum of Glass, New York, and participated in a competition to design, innovate & sculpt the most alluring masterpieces from glass, often defying science in the process!

The show, intrinsically celebrating the aesthetic genius of Glass art, has been running successfully for a few seasons now and the Indian OTT audience has indeed a solid hand to play in its success, a fact that raises a pertinent question – If an average Indian citizen is randomly asked to name a few extravagant glass buildings or structures that they had on their bucket list to visit, what would the answer be? Will it be the Dancing House in Prague or the Bauhaus Dessau in Germany? Or shall it be the mighty Louvre in old Paris?

Well, it’s time for a shocker! Have you ever visited a similar glass paragon which had existed for almost one hundred and sixty years, much closer home back at Bolpur, Shantiniketan in West Bengal?

The probable generic answer would be a supposed “No” unless the person questioned is either a Bengali or a Tagore enthusiast, and to honestly confess, it’s sad. The construction in itself, without getting over-shadowed by the maestro’s connection to the place, is adorned with sheets of multi-coloured Belgian glass which creates the perfect live kaleidoscopic illusions from within the house.

Essentially being designed as a prayer room, the Upasana Griha a.k.a. the Kaanch Mandir is a part of the Shantiniketan Ashram founded by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, a celebrated Indian philosopher and businessman in 1863 as a seat of Brahma stronghold.

Through the annals of time, under the apt leadership of his son, the legendary poet & Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the ashram came to be one of the finest deemed institutions for the studies of Art & Music – the iconic Visva-Bharati University. As a symbol of a rebel in itself, till today Visva-Bharati has successfully upheld the Tagorian principle of open education with students studying and learning from within nature surrounded by vibrant green trees, not rusty dead bricks.

Embodied in history and the memoirs of India’s independence struggle helmed by Tagore himself, Upasana Griha stands firm with prayers being regularly performed every Wednesday. The Covid-19 pandemic had shut the doors of this idyllic gem of architecture for almost two years, but now the place is open to visitors.

Image of Banyan Tree in Vishwa Bharati

Imagine standing on the same marble where Rabindranath Tagore once sat and prayed!

Within the same university campus, there’s another timeless wonder – an age-old Banyan tree whose shoots too have now grown into roots, a tree fabled to be planted by Tagore himself. It is believed by the locals that Rabindranath Tagore brought three stones from the river Kopai and planted the banyan with his own hands. Today this place stands as an emblem of history stuck within an otherwise busy urban landscape.

So, the next time your heart burns out in wanderlust seeking a slice of the times gone by, pack up your rucksacks and begin your Shantiniketan chronicles.

Get in touch with Visva-Bharati University for detailed schedules of the in-campus tourist venues.


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