If you happen to go to Shantiniketan, it is my earnest request that you should go for a minimum of 3-4 days as that little place has so much to show. Until you see them all with a good deal of time in your hands, you will be left with the feeling that your Shantiniketan visit was ‘touch, tick and go’! There’s so much to simply absorb, imbibe that I still long to go back when there’d be fewer crowd so that I can have Shantiniketan to myself and to my pace.
Shantiniketan/Visva-Bharati University: Tops everybody’s itinerary! There is so much to see here, starting from the Uttarayan Complex to the different university buildings, spread across a huge area, you need to be sure that you keep at least 5-6 hours for a complete tour. There are guides everywhere, and you can take the requisite passes from the counter that is near the Uttarayan Complex. The complete tour involves a lot of walking. It is advisable to hire a cycle or a cycle rickshaw for the tour, in case you can’t take too much of walking. (Read: Touring Vishwa-Bharati)
Khoai in Birbhum: Just off the Vishwa Bharati limits in Shantiniketan, about 3 kilometers away, is Khoai, a thick Sonajhuri forest with its curious canyon-like formation made by wind and the Kopai river. A Saturday Market (Shanibarer Haat) sits on its edges every week, from where you can buy beautiful village handicrafts and clothes. Read my elaborate blog on Khoai here – Why Must You Visit Khoai In Shantiniketan.
Sonajhuri Village: It’s more of a model village with mud-plastered houses, and clean narrow lanes that offer a good peek into the lives of the tribal-rich villages. Located on the other side of the Sonajhuri forest, you can walk to this village or take a rickshaw. Even though we had a rickshaw, we chose to walk around when we reached the village just in order to see it thoroughly.
Lipi, Ceramic Boutique: On our way from the Sonajhuri Village to Kopai River, we found this charming boutique store that sells beautiful ceramic pots, pans, plates and more. The wares are made by the local village people, but apparently designed by the owner, Lipi Bishwas. Very creative and exquisite stuff, prices were on the higher side.
Kopai River: And then there is the Kopai River, Tagore’s “Amader choto nodi” – our small river. About a 15 minute ride from the Sonajhuri Village/main Shantiniketan, please go to see the Kopai only in a cycle or a cyle-rickshaw. We insist. How else will you feel the lovely breeze from the fields on your face? How else will you be able to devour the beautiful, unadulterated greenery around you? And when at the Kopai river, simply sit for hours, looking at the river and listening to the Baul singing to you a song on life…. (Read my post on Ride up to Kopai River)
Kankalitala in Bolepur: About an half an hour’s drive from main Shantiniketan, Kankalitala is one of the 51 Shakti-Peeths in Hindu religion and is regarded as extremely sacred by the followers of Hindu religion. Do not go with expectations of grand architecture, for there is no architectural wonder here other than a concrete temple, Goddess worshipped in the form of a photo-frame and not the usual marble sculptures as seen in Hindu temples, and the temple’s sacred pond, which was rather dirty. Read my elaborate blog on Kankalitala here – Kankalitala – To Visit Or To Not Visit.
Adityapur Village: If you go to Kankalitala, make sure you stop by the village called Adityapur on your back. It is the same village that has a huge lotus pond, and seemingly, the entire menfolk being busy in fishing at the pond. We eulogised about the village in a separate blog which you can read here – Touring Adityapur Village in Shantiniketan.
Srijani Shilpagram: A place that showcases the homes and lifestyle of all the Eastern and North-Eastern states in India, come to this park to see India’s diversity. A tour of the whole place takes about 2 hours. And no, you do not need a guide for Shilpagram.
And then of course, you ought to devote a considerable time to shopping in Shantiniketan! I wouldn’t leave the place without my loot of sarees, dupattas, dresses for my little one, kurtas for my husband, gifts for my family, handicrafts for the house. Read about them all in my post – Where and What of Shopping in Shantiniketan.
Plan a trip to Shantinektan during Poush Mela in December with our compilation of itinerary, sight-seeing suggestions, Mitali homestay review, shopping and food recommendations. Read the posts in the link — Best Shantiniketan Itinerary and Blogs