By Aparna Mitra
This land of red soil, primarily gets its fame from Rabindranath Tagore’s creation – Bolpur Shantiniketan. There is a sense of calm and peace in this rural land, where Bauls can be heard singing distinct folk songs. It seems that even the air here breathes music, art and culture. Apart from being a home for many renowned poets, writers and saints, the villages near Bolpur are also ideal getaways for romantic couples. So, we present some villages near iconic Shantiniketan (or Santiniketan as it is referred in local dialect) that are ideal romantic destinations.
Destinations for a romantic Bolpur Shantiniketan tour
Labhpur is the village where famous Bengali writer Tarashankar Bandopadhyay was born. Many of his famous novels, especially Hansuli Banker Upkatha, find inspirations from this village. A stroll along the Kanori river banks and walking past paddy fields would truly relax and rejuvenate your mind.
- Must visit: Kachaari Bari (the residence of Tarashankar Bandopadhay), which has been converted into a museum. A drive to the Japeshwar Mahadev Temple at Kirnahar is also a must.
- Special Information: Being close to Shantiniketan, tourists crowd Labhpur during Magh Purnima, Poush Mela and Basanta Utsab.
- Trivia: Kirnahar, well known as the native village of President Pranab Mukherjee, is just 12 KM away.
- Nearest Railway Station: Labhpur (1.5 KM away)
Spread across nearly 200 acres, Ballavpur is famous for the Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary. This wildlife sanctuary houses various species of deer. Watch towers built within the sanctuary give a panoramic view of the varied wildlife and migratory birds visiting the artificial water bodies. Apart from a comfortable stay at one of the Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary resorts tourists also take a tour to the Ballavpur Danga village (1 KM away). A trip to the village gives tourists a glimpse into the tribal (Santhal) culture of this region.
- Timings for Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary: Open on all days from 10 AM – 6 PM (except Wednesdays)
- Entry fees: Rs.10 per person.
- Must visit: Nature Intervention Centre, Shyambati (open from 10 AM – 4 PM with an entry fees of Rs.5 per person)
- Nearest Railway Station: Bolpur (5.7 KM away)
Sonajhuri serves as a perfect romantic getaway amidst dense Sonajhuri forests filled with rare species of birds. Being home to many Santhali tribes, this place is famous for its handicrafts. Enjoy the rustic environment of the villages with a leisure ride through the village to Kopai river. Mayurakshi Canal flowing parallel to the village adds to the calm ambiance. This place awakens on Saturdays when local tribes organize a Haat (local market) where one can buy beautiful handicrafts, listen to Baul singers and cherish the tribal dance.
- Must visit: Amar Kuthi where one can buy local handcrafted items. Take a morning walk to Banerpukar village to listen to the mesmerizing sounds of birds.
- Special Information: Sonajhuri Haat is open only on Saturdays from 3:30 PM – 6:30 PM.
- Tip: Add extra charm to your stay with a romantic stay at Sonajhuri forest resort or homestays.
- Trivia: Owing to its natural beauty, many Bengali films like Belasheshe were shot at this village.
- Nearest Railway Station: Bolpur (7.8 KM away)
BABLI (Bureau for Agro Based / Linked Industries)
BABLI is a one-stop destination for all nature lovers to spend some secluded time from the hectic urban lifestyle. Initially a barren land, today it is used for all kinds of farming such as vegetables, fruits, poultry, animal husbandry etc. Equipped with composite farming, and planned water harvesting, BABLI seems like an oasis in this otherwise dry region. To have unique experience tourists may choose Shantiniketan homestays at mud houses or cottages that are available on rent here.
- Special Information: BABLI is not a resort. It is an extension of a well planned rural setup for all nature lovers to cherish. Visitors can relish the awesome food here which can be customized as needed.
- Nearest Railway Station: Bolpur (12 KM away)
Kenduli (Joydeb Kenduli)
Located on the banks of river Ajay, Kenduli acquired fame due to its association with the 12th century Sanskrit Poet, Joydeb. His Geet Govinda which describes the glory of Radha Madhab was written here. It is in the Radhabinod temple where the poet is believed to have dwelled. With intricate terracotta carvings this temple also houses an area known as the Asana (where the poet meditated). In order to commemorate the poet’s bathing in Ajay river, Joydeb (or Joydev) Mela is organized annually during Makar Sankranti. It is a delight to experience the culturally rich atmosphere, where Baul singers across boundaries visit this fair.
- Must visit: Kadambokhandi ghat on river Ajay, where the Poet Joydeb possibly took bath on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti.
Special information: If you are visiting the Kenduli Mela, make sure to watch the Abir Khela held on the third day. It is a special treat.
- Nearest Railway Station: Durgapur (25.2 KM away)