Shantiniketan is one place that will never take your identity into account. You can be anyone, come from anywhere, Shantiniketan will welcome you with wide open arms. If you are looking for a hurricane holiday, don't have more than two or three days at hand, this is the place to be.
A picture that not only exudes peace but is also an evergreen symbol of it, a scenery that soothes every storm in your heart, Shantiniketan takes you back to your roots. This is one place that is steeped with historical significance, yet is modern in every way. A site for the confluence of cultures from all over the world, Shantiniketan marks the importance of unity in diversity.
Shantiniketan primarily owes its attractiveness to the creative Mecca of the Viswabharati University, which Tagore nurtured with his flesh and blood, draining his heart and soul on it. The university grounds are home to Tagore's Ashram in the Uttarayan complex. If you are punctual enough, do visit the grounds during the day and you will witness what "classes under the sky" actually mean. There are art students drawing alpanas and rangolis, literature students composing pieces with fervour, and if you're lucky, you might be treated to the mellifluous voices of the music students.
Venture beyond the university gates and trek towards the red soil landscapes of the Khowai. A mini canyon of sorts, this place boasts of the rich red soil of Bolpur, a rare sight. If possible, plan your trip around a Saturday to visit the Shonajhurir Haat, or the Khowai Mela. From trinkets to food, it is a larger than life celebration of creativity in am modest backdrop.
Artists from all over the place, specially the sonorous Baul singers bestow their blessings on this place. Handicrafts, household goods, clothes in typical Shantiniketan print are in plenty.
You can also search for these at Amar Kuthir, boasting of locally made products. Holiday at Shantiniketan during the Dolyatra festival and treat your eyes to a riot of colours, when strangers, families and friends, Indians and foreigners alike soak into the festivities.
A scenery often the subject in Tagore's poems, the Kopai River is a lovely, pacific river. Its tranquility gets to you and if nothing else can, Kopai will definitely bring you back.
All in all, Shantiniketan is your weekend getaway, a trip that can be sensual in every way. We seldom across such places, thus this is one holiday you should immediately tick of your bucket list.
IMAGE COURTESY: FLICKR IMAGES