Are you planning to visit Santiniketan? Do you want to avail train or service from Kolkata? Why don't you take control of the wheel and explore the darling of Rabindranath's heart at your own pace? A road trip to Santiniketan will give a perfect opportunity to experience new things and make memories along the way.
Let's explore 12 best things to do on a road trip to Santiniketan.
1) Explore khoai on footDon't you want to explore the place which inspired Rabindranath Tagore to write the beautiful poem "Gram chara oi ranga matir poth" (red path beyond my village)? You cannot say your Santiniketan visit is complete without visiting Khoai region. This place is characterized by a patch of dry forest formed by Sonajhuri trees on a landscape of laterite soil rich in iron oxide, often in the shape of canyon. A morning/ evening stroll in this region will definitely give you a new lease of life. Sipping a glass full of 'khejur ros' (date juice) inside tribal village in the morning will be a memorable one.
2) Visit 'Shanibarer Haat'Another darling thing to do when you are in khoai region, is to attend Shanibarer Haat (Saturday Market). This means that you will have to time your visit around Khoai in the afternoon (3pm to sunset) on Saturday. A unique haat or marketplace is held in the bank of Shymbati Canal amidst Sonajhuri forest on every Saturday. If you are fond of buying handicraft products or trying out traditional Bengali sweet dishes (pithe, payes etc.), this colourful weekly marketplace , officially known as 'Khoai Boner Anyo Haat' is ideal destination for you.
3) Offer morning prayer @ Fullara Mata templeFullara (formerly known as Attahas) Mata Temple is situated in Labhppur (in Bolpur subdivision of Birbhum district) - about 30km from Santiniketan. According to myth, the lower lip of Sati fell here. 45 min drive through narrow winding metalled road will take you to this holy tranquil place. You will not find any proper idol of goddess here. A stone of around 15ft symbolizes the lower lip of Sati. If you want to offer puja, you can buy flowers, incense sticks from nearby stalls. Temple trust also offers option to have 'bhog' (prasadam/ veg lunch) inside the temple premise at a reasonable rate. While waiting for the 'bhog' you may try to feel the divine ambience by taking a stroll around this beautiful rural temple surrounded by dense foliage.
Do you want to enjoy a rural festival? Then come here at the fag end of January. A major festival is held here during Maghi Purnima.
If you are a traveller searching for offbeat places, a mere 5km drive from here will take you to 'hansuli bank' or a crescent shaped land formed by Kopai river and made famous by the novel "Hansuli Banker Upokatha" by Tarashankar Bandopadhyay.
4) Take Kali Maa's blessings @ KankalitalaOn your way back (from Fullara) to Santiniketan, you will find another Satipith - Kankalitala where according to myth, waist (Kankal in Bengali) of Sati fell. Lack of a three dimensional image of any kind will definitely surprise you. At Kankalitala, the image, is attended by the Purohits (priests) is a framed painting depicting the goddess Kali standing on top of Lord Shiva. Don't be tempted to buy souvenirs from the stalls outside. You can get those at a much cheaper rate at shanibarer haat.
5) Admire greatest artist's work @ Prakriti BhavanHave you ever seen Rabindranath sculpture made by mother nature? Do you want to admire the greatest artist's work? Prakriti Bhavan is the place to let loose your imagination. it is a unique museum which boasts of an "impressive indoor display of natural sculptures in driftwood, dry wood and transcreation in metal with a sprawling open air garden of natural rock sculptures." (as described by museum authority) The museum remains open all days between 9am-5pm.
6) Go on a shopping spree @ Amar KutirLocated about 15km from santiniketan, Amar Kutir is the best place to buy authentic, hand crafted 'Santiniketani' goods at a reasonable price. Leather bags, stitched sarees and decorative cotton bags are the star items and ideal for souvenirs. However, please note that leather bags are hard and suitable for you if you want to keep bare minimum items inside it.
7) Feel nostalgic for childhood days @ Kopai river bankIf you are a Bengalee or an admirer of the great poet (Rabindranath Tagore),you are very much familiar with the poem "Amader choto nodi" (Our small river). Do you want to see it in your own eyes? Two minutes' walk from Amar Kutir shop entrance will take you to 'choto nodi' aka Kopai river bank. A gentle walk along the river bank will force you to take a trip down memory lane and remember the bygone childhood days when you used to recite that famous poem "our little river flows in graceful loops"
8) Romance with nature @ Deer ParkIf you want to spend quality time in nature's lap enjoying birds' chirping while watching flock of deer, you must pay a visit to Ballavpur wildlife sanctuary situated 3km away from Santiniketan. Deer feeding time (10am-11am) is the ideal time to watch spotted deer and blackbuck as you will be able to watch them from a close distance.
9) Visit 108 Shiv Mandir
'108 shiv mandir' situated at Nawab Haat, Burdwant on the way to Santiniketan is a must visit attraction. A quick visit to this well preserved temple complex housing 108 Shiva Lingam in 108 temples will be a unique experience.