Santiniketan

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For the University in Shantiniketan, see Visva-Bharati University.
Santiniketan
শান্তিনিকেতন
Town
Santiniketan's Annual Poush Mela
Santiniketan's Annual Poush Mela
Santiniketanশান্তিনিকেতন is located in West Bengal
Santiniketanশান্তিনিকেতন
Santiniketan
শান্তিনিকেতন
Coordinates: 23°41′N 87°41′E / 23.68°N 87.68°E / 23.68; 87.68Coordinates: 23°41′N 87°41′E / 23.68°N 87.68°E / 23.68; 87.68
Country India
State West Bengal
District Birbhum
Elevation 58 m (190 ft)
Languages
 • Official Bengali, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Lok Sabha constituency Bolpur
Vidhan Sabha constituency Bolpur
Website visva-bharati.ac.in

Santiniketan (Bengali: শান্তিনিকেতন Shantiniketôn) is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, approximately 180 kilometres north of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). It was established by the famous Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose vision became what is now a university town (Visva-Bharati University) that attracts thousands of visitors each year.[1] The English daily, The Daily Star notes, "Using the money he received with his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the school was expanded and renamed Visva-Bharati University. It grew to become one of India's most renowned places of higher learning, with a list of alumni that includes Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen, globally renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray and the country's leading art historian, R. Siva Kumar, to name just a few."[2] Santiniketan is also a tourist attraction because Rabindranath Tagore wrote many of his literary classics here; his house is a place of historic importance.

History[edit]

Santiniketan was previously called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Sinha). This area was given to the Tagore family by the Sinha family (family of Lord Satyendra Prasanno Sinha). In 1862, Rabindranath's father, Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, found it very peaceful and renamed it Santiniketan, which means abode (niketan) of peace (shanti).

Here Rabindranath Tagore started Patha Bhavana, the school of his ideals, whose central premise was that learning in a natural environment would be more enjoyable and fruitful. After he received the Nobel Prize (1913), the school was expanded into a university in 1921. By 1951, it had become one of India's central universities. Many world-famous teachers came to be associated with it, including C.F. Andrews and Alex Aronson. Some of its illustrious students are Gayatri Devi, Indira Gandhi, Satyajit Ray, Abdul Ghani Khan, Sukriti Chakraberti, and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

Rabindranath Tagore with Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi at Santiniketan in 1940

Kala Bhavana, the art college of Santiniketan, is considered one of the best art colleges in the world. Other institutions here include Vidya Bhavana; the Institute of Humanities, Shiksha Bhavana; the Institute of Science, Sangit Bhavana; Institute of Dance, Drama and Music, Vinaya Bhavana; Institute of Education, Rabindra Bhavana, Institute of Tagore Studies and Research, Palli-Samgathana Vibhaga; Institute of Rural Reconstruction, and Palli Shiksha Bhavana; Institute of Agricultural Sciences. There are other centres, affiliated to major institutions such as Nippon Bhavana, the Indira Gandhi Centre for National Integration, Rural Extension Centre, Silpa Sadana; Centre for Rural Craft, Technology and Design, Palli-Charcha Kendra; Centre for Social Studies and Rural Development, Centre for Biotechnology, Centre for Mathematics Education, Centre for Environmental Studies, Computer Centre and Indira Gandhi Centre for National Integration.

As well as Patha-Bhavana, there are two schools for kindergarten level education — Mrinalini Ananda Pathsala and Santosh Pathsala — a school for primary and secondary education known as Shiksha Satra, and a school of higher secondary education known as Uttar-Shiksha Sadana.

Santiniketan is home to Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel Prize winner in Economics.

Geography[edit]

Santiniketan is at 23°41′N 87°41′E / 23.68°N 87.68°E / 23.68; 87.68.[3] It has an average elevation of 56 metres (187 feet).

Climate[edit]

  • Temperature (deg C): Summer — max. 42.4, min. 34.3; Winter — max. 15.7, min. 8.1.
  • Rainfall: 125 cm (June to September). Heavy in July and August.

The weather in Santiniketan is usually pleasant. There are the normal weather changes during summer, winter and monsoon. Spring has its own charm in Santiniketan because of its natural beauty blooming to its fullest amidst the lush greenery and due to the famous Vasanta Utsav held to mark the festival of Holi with the onset of spring.

Santiniketan can be visited at any time of the year. The climate is moderately warm, with summer temperatures at around 34-45 °C and winter at 8-15 °C. July and August see heavy rainfall.

Major events[edit]

Social and cultural events take place throughout the year. These include Basanta Utsav, Barsha Mangal, Sharodutsav, Nandan Mela, Poush Mela, Magh Mela, Rabindra Jayanti to name a few.

Of these, the Poush Mela is a major tourist attraction. It is a three-day fair (Bengali, mela means a fair), starting on the seventh day of the Bengali month Poush (usually, last week of December). It fetches tourists,artisans, folk singers, dancers, and the traditional Baul from the neighbourhood.

Attractions[edit]

Prayer Hall in Santiniketana

Prayer Hall[edit]

The Upasana Griha is a prayer hall, made of several coloured Belgium glass with marble steps on all the four sides, by the poet's father, Debendranath Tagore in 1863. During evening service on special occasions like 25 December, candle is lit around the prayer hall, and it wears a magnificent look in flickering light. Prayers are held on Wednesday. This prayer hall is also named as 'Kanch Mandir' in local term (Kanch in Bengali means glass and Mandir is temple). The Poush seventh of Bengali calendar (generally 23 Dec in English calendar) is observed here as the memorial date of the event of Tagore's father Maharsi Debendranath's transformation to Bramho religion from Hinduism. This date is the commencing date of Poush Mela for every year.

Dehali[edit]

Dehali: Rabindranath used to live with his wife Mrinalini Devi in this two storeyed building.

China Bhavana[edit]

China Bhavana: A centre for Chinese studies. Natir Puja, a dance drama of Tagore, is painted on its wall under the guidance of Nandalal Bose, pioneering Indian artist.

Hindi Bhavana[edit]

Hindi Bhavana: Department of Hindi Language. There is an important wall mural called "Medieval Saints" made by Binode Behari Mukherjee in the main hall.

Black House[edit]

Black House: A mud building known for its relief works done by stalwarts like Ram Kinkar and Prabhas Sen. Usually the final year student of Visva Bharati stay here.

Shantiniketan Griha[edit]

Shantiniketan Griha: The oldest building of Santiniketan. It was built by Rabindranath Tagore's father Debendranath Tagore. Rabindranath Tagore stayed here as a young boy. When little Rabi went to Himalaya, his parents lived here.

Kala Bhavan[edit]

Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan.

Kala Bhavan: The College of Fine Arts & Crafts has a museum exhibiting sculptures, frescoes, murals, and a library of art books.

Uttarayan Complex[edit]

Uttarayan Complex: The poet lived and worked in the Northern Complex consisting of several buildings: Udayana, Konarka, Shyamali, Punascha and Udichi. The Bichitra (or Rabindra Bhavan) designed by the poet's son Rathindranath Tagore.

Bichitra[edit]

Bichitra: It is also called Rabindra Bhavan, a research centre and museum where the poet's personal belongings, paintings and editions of his works are exhibited. It is designed by the Rabindranath Tagore's son Shamindranath Tagore. The replaced Nobel prize is kept there.

Sangeet Bhavan[edit]

Baul singers at Vasantotsav, Santiniketan .

Sangeet Bhavan: College of Dance and Music. The University is replete with works on art, music and the humanities.

Chhatimtala[edit]

Chhatimtala: Here Maharshi Devendranath, the father of Rabindranath Tagore, used to meditate. Prayers are held usually at convocation time. Successful graduates of the Vishwa Bharati University are presented a branch of five leaves from the Saptaparni trees which abound in the area.

Kankalitala[edit]

Kankalitala: This is one of the sacred Shaktipithas, on the bank of the river Kopai. A temple is here.

Visva-Bharati Central Library[edit]

Visva-Bharati Central Library: Paradise for book lovers.

Visva-Bharati Central Library

Gardens and parks at Shantiniketan[edit]

Santiniketan Garden
Deer Park

There is a Deer Park 3 km from Shantiniketan. Originally, the area was a fast eroding 'Khowai'. It is now a large wooded area with herds of deer and makes a natural bird sanctuary.

Shopping[edit]

Handicrafts and handlooms can be bought here.

Eateries[edit]

Shantiniketan is famous for its Bengali food, especially fish curry.

Places near Santiniketan[edit]

  • Fullora (40 km)
  • Nalhati (104 km)
  • Kankalitala (7 km)
  • Bakreshwar (58 km)
  • Massanjore (78 km)
  • Kendubilwa (42 km)
  • Nanoor (23 km)
  • Tarapith (80 km)
  • Kolkata (163 km)
  • Durgapur (58 km)
  • Barddhaman (98 km)

Transport[edit]

  • A bus from Kolkata dharmatala/esplanade is available.
  • A train direct to Bolpur from Howrah and Sealdha station.
  • Bus from Durgapur Railway station is also available for Bolpur/Santiniketan.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pearson, WW.: Santiniketan Bolpur School of Rabindranath Tagore, illustrations by Mukul Dey, The Macmillan Company, 1916
  2. ^ http://www.nationmultimedia.com/life/Exploring-Mother-Indias-cradle-of-art-30206439.html
  3. ^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Shantiniketan

External links[edit]