Thursday, 16 May 2013

Destination India

West Bengal (PART-XI)


“The land of the red soil" ('Lalbhumi') is also "the land of the brave". Often called "The land of red soil", Birbhum is noted for its topography and its cultural heritage which is unique and is somewhat different from that of the other districts in West Bengal. This district saw many cultural and religious movements in history. Several brave kings have dominated Birbhum since the begin. Remnants of civilizations add profound historical importance to place. The district headquarters is Suri. Bolpur-Santiniketan, Nannor, Joydev-Kenduli, Bakreswar and Nalhati are the principal sites of attraction here. The Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan, established by Rabindranath Tagore, is one of the places Birbhum is internationally renowned for. Many festivals are celebrated in this culturally rich district, including the notable Poush Mela.
The name Birbhum comes probably from the term Land (Bhumi) of the Brave (Bir). Another theory says that the district bears the name of Bir kings, who ruled in the area. But, Bir in Santali language means forests, and therefore, Birbhum could also mean a land of forests.

Places to visit in Birbhum:


Shantiniketan (i)



Santiniketan is a cultural town in West Bengal, near Bolpur, which is 180 km from Kolkata. This small cultural town was a vision of the famous Bengali poet and Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. The Vishwa Bharati University or ‘the University Town’, as it was known in early days was an attempt of Tagore’s efforts that even today attracts significant number of visitors to the place.

With a rich cultural past, Santiniketan is a famous tourist attraction, especially for art and literature lovers, as this is the place where Tagore created many of his literary classics. The destination has a distinct culture and heritage of its own which can be experienced in the various festivals it celebrates like Poush Mela, Basantotsava and Rabindra Jayanti. 

Attractions in Shantiniketan:



 Visva Bharati University


The Visva Bharati University at Shantiniketan is world famous and is acknowledged as one of the greatest temples of learning in Fine art and Literature in India. Founded by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in 1901, the university has always defined the standards of literary excellence and its fine arts division carries on the Gurudev's tradition of uncompromising and unparalleled standards of excellence.
Maharshi Debendranath, father of Rabindranath Tagore, founded an Ashram here in 1863. Almost 40 years later, his son Rabindranath started an open-air school here that gradually blossomed into an international university where the cultures of the East and the West meet in common fellowship. The university today is a center of international culture and studies and has two campuses, one at Shantiniketan and another at Sriniketan.
The sprawling campus houses several institutions dedicated to different aspects of Arts and Culture -  Patha Bhavana, Uttar Siksha Sadana, Siksha Bhavana, Vidya Bhavana, Vinay Bhavana, Kala Bhavana, Sangeet Bhavana, Rabindra Bhavana, China Bhavana, Hindi Bhavana etc.
The Vichitra Museum houses the personal effects and a good collection of photographs of the Gurudev. The Nandan Art Gallery displays some of Tagore’s works along with murals, paintings, frescoes and artistic tributes by Ramkinkar, Nandlal Bose et al.
Following the Gurukul tradition, classes at the university are conducted outdoors. Many a great literary genius and music maestro has visited this temple of learning and gone back inspired or moved by its cultural ethos. 

Here are some of most places to see in Visva Bharati University campus:    

Uttarayan Complex


Uttarayan Complex is the place where Rabindranath Tagore used to live and is hence a very popular location. The entire complex is divided into many buildings in varying architectural styles.
Tagore’s five houses inside the Uttarayan Complex are Udichi, Udayana, Konarka, Shamali and Punascha. In 1863, Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, Tagore’s father, constructed a Prayer Hall in this complex, where Bramho prayers were conducted.

The museum and gallery of this complex exhibits a watch and a bangle belonging to Rabindranath Tagore. Many frescoes are displayed in this complex’s gallery. This complex is closed on Wednesday, as it happens to be the prayer day.

Kala Bhavana


In 1919, Rabindranath Tagore established Kala Bhavan, the centre for study and research in visual arts in India, in the complex of Viswa Bharati University. The subjects offered here include history of art, painting, sculpture, graphics and artistic design on which graduate and diploma courses are available.
The facilities extended to the students are Studio for Visual Arts, Kala Bhavana Museum that has around 19,000 articles in it, discussion forums and others. This place is also known for its research conducted by students.

Vidya Bhavana



In 1925, Rabindranath Tagore founded Vidya Bhavan, which is the study centre for the social sciences and humanities. It is situated in Santiniketan’s Viswa Bharati University complex. Here regular graduate and undergraduate courses are offered.
Here Graduate and Postgraduate degrees are offered on subjects like statistics, mathematics, zoology, chemistry, botany and biotechnology. Computer courses like MCA are also offered by this centre, and many national and international seminars and conventions are also conducted for the progress of various science subjects. This place is frequented by various students from different parts of India and the world.

For international students of this institute, one-year diploma course is offered on Indian culture and civilization. This centre also has an Archaeological Museum that exhibits documents written in various languages like Bengali, Oriya, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and Tibetan.  

Rabindra Bhavana


Rabindra Bhavan was established in Santiniketan in 1942, which stands on the shores of the River Kopai in West Bengal’s Birbhum District. Santiniketan houses the international university of Viswa Bharati, the foundation of which was laid by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore as a platform where the cultures of the east would meet the west.  
The memories of this Nobel Laureate with his personal artifacts, books, photographs and voice records are all displayed in Rabindra Bhavan. There is also a general section devoted to the letters, paintings by various popular artists, where even the original manuscripts of Tagore’s writings are preserved properly. Admission to the museum is free.

Patha Bhavana


There are two institutions in Santiniketan that are associated with the Viswa- Bharati University offering primary and secondary education. One is Shiksha Satra and the other is Patha Bhavana. In 1901, the Brahmacharya School of Patha Bhavana was established by Rabindranath Tagore and is now a renowned institution.
Patha Bhavana has a Gurukul system of ashrams, where students get chance to learn from nature. There is no barrier between a student and a teacher in Patha Bhavana and it is a nice educational campus to see.

Hindi Bhavana


Rabindranath Tagore understood the importance of the language Hindi in integrating the Indian society, so a centre for learning Hindi was also established inside Santiniketan that is named Hindi Bhavana.
Here advanced classes in Hindi are imparted to students giving a detailed understanding of the literature, its growth and evolution. The library here has numerous books about the Hindi literature and literary works in other languages. Tourists interested in stories, poems and literature overall can visit this place.

Cheena Bhavan


There is a centre in Santiniketan that focuses on developing relationship between India and China. This centre for studying about China is known as Cheena Bhavan that promotes the liaison between the two nations.
The Chinese society and culture are researched deeply in the facilities offered in this Bhavan and various Chinese scholars, who teach the students of Viswa Bharati about China often visit this place.  

Nippon Bhavana



The Nippon Bhavan is an independent centre that is not controlled by Viswa Bharati University and its programs are carried out by direct contact and exchange with Japan. It collaborates with some centres of the University and the department of Japanese studies is currently situated in the Nippon Bhavan.

The library of this centre has many books, mainly catering to Japanese culture, literature and artistic features. To develop the relation between India and Japan and help in the research, many Japanese scholars pay a visit to this centre. Regular conferences and conventions are held here on various topics related to Japanese culture and Indo-Japan relations.  

Sangit Bhavana



In the year 1919, Rabindranath Tagore had set up Sangeet Bhavana as a centre for promoting folk dance, arts, drama and music. Providing training in Hindustani classical instrumental music, vocal music and Rabindrasangeet are the specialty of this centre. It also teaches musical dance dramas, which were composed by the bard himself incorporating styles of Manipuri and Kathakali dance.



It was under a couple of Chhatim trees that Debendranath came to rest on his way to Raipur during the middle of the 19th century. Here Maharshi Devendranath, the father of Rabindranath Tagore, used to meditate. He had his realization of God at this spot. This site is revered by all in Santiniketan.
 Prayers are held usually at Convocation time. Successful graduates of the Vishwa Bharati University are presented a branch of five leaves each from the Saptaparni trees which abound in the area.

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