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Revision as of 02:57, 15 January 2009 by P.K.Niyogi (talk | contribs) (Fairs and festivals)
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Santiniketan [4] is a city in Birbhum district of West Bengal. It forms one urban agglomeration with Bolpur.


The town is home to Visva Bharati University founded by Rabindranath Tagore in 1921. It was declared a central university in 1951. It has produced such diverse personalities as Indira Gandhi and Amartya Sen. It has been home to great artists and musicians.

Get in

By train

Bolpur is the railway station for Santiniketan. It is about three hours by train from Kolkata. Convenient connections are Gana Devta Express departing Howrah at 6.05 am, Santiniketan Express departing Howrah at 10:10 AM (this is the only train which originates/terminates in Howrah and Bolpur, so one has a better chance of finding seats on this train rather than the other trains if one buys unreserved tickets. If you are buying reserved tickets, then it won't make a difference), Malda Inter-city Express departing Howrah at 3.15 pm, Kanchenjunga Express departing Sealdah at 6:45 PM., "Shahid Express" departing Howrah at 12 noon everyday.Saraighat(afternoon),Visvabharati fast passenger, Jamalpur express, Dwarbhanga Passenger are other good trains. For timings etc. check with Indian Railways.

By bus

Santiniketan is well connected by buses from all around.From Kolkata ,if you want to go by bus .Then you have to take Kolkata siliguri bus or Kolkata Suri Bus. For Silguri bound Bus you have to get down near Panagarh and and for Suri bound bus you have to get down near Ilambajar and for both cases you have to catch another bus for Shantiniketan.

By car

Santiniketan is connected with Kolkata by an excellent road. From Kolkata travel to Dankuni and take the Durgapur Expressway. It is now part of NH2. It will bypass Saktigarh and Bardhaman. At Panagarh (Darjeeling Mor) turn right. After the highway crosses the Ajay river take the road to the right at Ilambazar and proceed towards Bolpur. At the Santiniketan-Sriniketan junction (also called Surul Mor) take the road to the left. Santiniketan is 212 km from Kolkata by road. Good drivers can cover the distance in about 3 hours.

Get around

Buddha by Ramkinkar Baij
Fresco by Nandalal Bose at Sriniketan
Typical Santiniketan leather craft
An itinerant baul singer entertaining tourists in the khowai area

Cyclerickshaws are the most convenient means of transportation as hired cars and taxis are not always readily available. See map of Visva Bharati complex


  • Tagore's ashrama - Closed on Wednesdays. One has to walk through the area. Guides are generally available outside Uttarayan Complex/Rabindra Bhaban, otherwise one has to follow the crowd. Hermitage created with a Trust Deed in 1888 by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore. The area has several buildings associated with the Tagores - Santiniketan building, Nutan Bari, Dehali etc. The first building in the area was a guest house built in 1863 by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore. It was named Santiniketan and thereafter the entire place acquired that name. School classes and major functions are held in the Amra Kunja (mango grove). Some of the Visva Bharati institutions are also located here. Tourists are not allowed to stray into areas where outdoor classes are held as they disturb studies. Some distance away on the eastern side is a small hillock with a large banyan tree. The place was a favourite of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore.
    • Chhatimtala – prayer place (under the "Chhatim" tree) of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore.
    • Brahma Mandir Upasana Griha, constructed in 1891.
    • Look out for sculptures and frescoes of Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij and Binode Bihari Mukherjee, particularly around Kala Bhavana. Kalo Bari beside Sangeet Bhavana is interesting.
  • Uttarayan complex - Closed on Wednesdays. The complex has several buildings associated with Tagore's memory - Udayan, Konark, Shyamali (mud hut), Punascha and Udichi. The complex has well-laid out gardens. Combined entry fee for Uttarayan complex and Rabindra Bhaban Museum is Rs. 5. Cameras and hand bags not allowed.
    • Rabindra Bhaban Museum - Open on working days from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm. Closed on Wednesadys. The house is called Bichitra. Constructed in Tagore's birth centenary year 1961. There are original manuscripts, letters, documents, medals (including Nobel Prize), plaques, certificates, paintings, photographs etc. During Poush Mela the place is over-crowded and queues for entry are long.
  • Khoai Mela - The mela starts from around 3 pm and goes on till about 5.30-6 pm only on Saturdays and is worth visiting.
  • Amar Kutir - The place where all types of hadicrafts like cloth/leather batiks, handlooms etc. are available.
  • Kopai river - it is there as amader chhoto nodi in many of Tagore's poems particularly those for children.

Visva Bharati

  • Cheena Bhavana - the China study centre
  • Hindi Bhavana – the Hindi study centre
  • Nippon Bhavana – for Indo-Japanese studies
  • Kala Bhavana - college of fine arts and crafts, has a museum exhibiting sculptures, frescoes and murals and a library of art books.
  • Patha Bhavana - now a secondary school, is of particular interest, being an example of the traditional Brahmacharya Ashram.
  • Sangeet Bhavana – college of music and dance.
  • Vidya Bhavana – college of humanities
  • Siksha Bhavana - college of science
  • Vinaya Bhavana - teacher's training college
  • Sriniketan Campus - This campus has two Bhabans. When Rabindranath started this Univertsity,he had two visions in his mind - one is spread of education and another is rural reconstruction. Sriniketan is campus for Rural Reconstruction. It offers B.Sc., M.Sc in Agriculture, BSW and MSW, masters degree in rural development, anthropology and CIT.

Visiting Hours- Winter: 1400 to 1630 hours. Summer: 1430 to 1730 hours. During vacations: 0730 to 1100 hours.



Those who are knowledgeable about Rabindranath Tagore, his contribution to Bengali culture and his activities can enjoy a visit to Santiniketan thoroughly. Semi-official guides charge Rs. 150 for showing around Santiniketan and Rs. 300 for the entire area including Sriniketan and Amar Kutir. They are knowledgeable and explain things well. They are particulalrly helpful in identifying sculptures and frescoes.

Fairs and festivals

  • Poush Mela - the fair is held at Santiniketan from 7th to 9th Poush (December 22/23-25). Tribal sports, folk songs and dances including songs by bauls, the itinerant singers, are a part of the fair and festivities. Some sort of "bhanga mela" or broken fair, with some shops, continue till the end of December. Warning: All accommodation is heavily booked during this period. Anybody wanting to visit during his period will have to think ahead for hotel bookings.
  • Maghotsav - anniversary of Brahmo Samaj celebrated on the 11th of Magha (25th January) with prayers and songs at Chhatimtala.
  • Vasanta Utsav - held to celebrate Holi. The students dance and sing their ways through Amrakunja, followed by open-air variety programmes. Warning: All accommodation is heavily booked during this period. Anybody wanting to visit during his period will have to think ahead.
  • Rabindra Jayanti - although the birth anniversary of Rabindranath falls on 25th Baisakh (May 8/9), the anniversary as well as the Bengali New Year {Nabo Barsho) is celebrated on the first day of the Bengali New Year (Poila Baisakh) in mid-April with songs, dances, and recitaions by the students.
  • Briksharopana planting of saplings and Halakarshana ploughing of the fields on 22nd and 23rd Sravana (August).
  • Varshamangal - the festival of rains during August/September. Tagore was a poet of nature and some of his finest creations were about the rains.


  • Handicrafts, batik prints, leather craft - a favourable time for shopping is during the "Pous Mela". The unique style of embroidery associated with Santiniketan is known as'kantha stitch'. 'Sudha Karu Shilpa' in Andrews Palii, Santinikeatn, 'Amar Kutir' in Sriniketan, and 'Basundhara' in Sonajhuripalli offer quality kantha stitchwork in the form of Sarees, Dupattas etc throughout the year. Other handicrafts like dokra (artistic brassware from nearby Dariapur), leather bags, bamboo toys and locally handwoven cotton are also worth a look.
  • Rabindranath, Santiniketan, Sriniketan by Tapan Kumar Basak, price - Rs. 30 available locally


Look for "morabba" - a Siuri speciality (type of sweet meat).


Drinks are a taboo in this place but tourists have it quietly on their own.


  • Santiniketan Tourist Lodge (West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation), +91 3463 252699. Rs.300-1150.
  • Hotel Camellia, Prantik, +91 3463 254778/255044/255043 (, fax: +91 3463 255044), [1]. Rs.950-2000.
  • Chutti Holiday Resort, 241 Charupalli, Jamboni (off Sriniketan Road), +91 3463 252692/ 255015 (), [2]. Reservation from Kolkata: +91 33 2220 2826 Ilaco House, 3/1 Brabourne Road, Kolkata 700001
  • Jiraan - The retreat, 9333510012, 9332083644 (), [3]. Rs. 700-1500.
  • Manashi Lodge, 91 3463 254200. Rs. 150-500.
  • Bolpur Lodge, Bhubandanga, 91 3463 252662/ 252737. Rs. 150-550.
  • Hotel Royal Bengal, +91 3463 257-448, +91 33 92311 47752. Rs. 500-1200.
  • Park Guest House, +91 3463 226286, +91 33 22849347. Rs. 472 (non-AC) to Rs. 850 (AC).
  • Hotel Rangamati, +91 3463 252305. AC Rs. 1100 (good for three people).
  • Mark and Meadows Resort, Sriniketan Road, Kolkata booking+91 33 22448254/ 22450179 ().


  • Study at Visva Bharati University, [5].

Get out

Map of Birbhum.jpg
  • Surul - near Sriniketan, temples with exquisite terracotta carvings.
  • Kankalitala - 9 km, on the bank of the river Kopai, one of the satipeethas.
  • Labhpur-Fullara - 30 km, a satipitha, birth place of Tarashankar Bandopadhyay.
  • Nanoor - 20 km, birth place of Chandidas, 14th century Sanskrit poet, famous for his Vaishnav Padavalis. There is a temple dedicated to Devi Basuli.
  • Kendubillo - 30 km, on the bank of the river Ajay, birth place of 12th century Sanskrit poet Joydeb, author of the masterpiece Geeta Govinda. A fair is held here on Makar Sankranti (mid January). Baul songs are the principal attraction of this mela. There is a temple with terracota decorations.
  • Bakreshwar - 58 km, satipitha, also famous for the Bakranath Shiva temple and hot springs.
  • Tarapith - 88 km, saktipeetha, famous temple of Tara Devi.
  • Nalhati - 100 km, shaktipeetha
  • Sainthia - 44 km, shaktipeetha
  • Massanjore - 75 km, in Dumka district of Jharkhand, a dam across the river Mayurakshi with a picturesque reservoir. One can travel on to Deoghar another 98 km in the same direction.
  • Durgapur - 60 km, the steel city. One can travel on to Vishnupur another 70 km in the same direction or on to Asansol, another 30 km, along NH2.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!