“Gram chara oei ranga matir poth”…the red path beyond my village….
Khoai’s red path had inspired the Bard to pen down these famous lines. Narrow, just off the Vishwa Bharati limits in Shantiniketan, this path has remained the same since the days of the poet – unpaved, exposing the red soil, stirring the soul. About 2 kms long, it leads to the Khoai region in Birbhum.
What makes Khoai popular? With a thick cover of forest on all sides, Khoai draws tourist for its curious canyon-like formation made by wind and the Kopai river. It is not a very large area and certainly not very ‘grand’, but they are canyons none the same. Walk down a 100 meters from the narrow path and you will find Khoai in its natural glory. We went up quite a bit to admire the colour of the soil and the rocks that form this place. Being quite forested, it makes for a good place for a walk. What’s more, you will definitely find a Baul Singer sitting under a tree nearby and crooning his soulful song on love, life, God and death. No place better, then, to reminisce.
Shanibarer Haat is @Khoai too. Or, the Saturday market. Although it is called so, you will find artisans selling their wares even on other days of the week. Buzzing with shouts for the best Kanthas, chic and ethnic jewellery, home decor items, Shanibarer Haat is just like another small market place, just off the main path. We found the prices a little on the higher side though, and wondered about the quality as well. Which is why, we didn’t buy anything from the Haat.
Khoai, won’t take you very long. About 30-45 minutes maximum. Do note that the narrow path leading to Shantiniketan can be very dusty. Since we were in a rickshaw, we took care to cover our head, eyes and nose well enough. Taking a car would have been convenient on this stretch but would have robbed us of the air that Tagore would have once breathed.
Have you read my post on — Sight-seeing in Shantiniketan?