A 2-6 days of tour in and around Santiniketan is recommended.
In case of 2 days tour, its better to stay at any hotel in Santiniketan. There are plenty of good hotels and home-stays there catering to a wide range of taste and budget. If time permits, other than the university, one can check out Baul Akhra of Rina Das Baul or Rabi Das Baul, Shola artist’s place (https://sholacraft.com/) or Kantha artists place in Nanoor.
In case of 4-6 days tour, we propose an experiential tour in and around Santiniketan covering People, Heritage, Nature and Culture.
Self searching is the essence of Baul music, which reflects the joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine. They urge people to rise above the divides created by caste, creed and religion to find peace and spread love. To know more about Baul, one may read http://contactbase.blogspot.com/2023/07/preserving-bauls-of-bengal-for-21st.html . After working with about 3000 Baul Fakirs for over 18 years, we developed a Baul Ashram at Bannabagram (in Ausgram near Guskara/ 20 KM from Santiniketan) for people to experience Baul music where Bauls from various Akhras across Bengal come on regular basis). Interested ones may like to stay here https://youtu.be/bDszMrMb4RE?si=FekmP5S21ti9PAnk and visit Santiniketan also.
Both Ausgram (where the Ashram is located) and Nanoor (20 Km from Santiniketan) are known for the intrinsic Kantha embroidery work. Kantha, led by women, is unique in its ethnicity, traditional appeal and contemporary allure. It is a form of an expression, narrates a story through the stitches https://youtu.be/X40L8-NcJbQZ.
Another possible place of visit is Joydev-Kenduli, located on the banks of River Ajay. The village is the birthplace of poet Joydev, who wrote the famous Sanskrit poem Geet Govinda in the 12th century. The place is famous for hosting one of the oldest and biggest Baul mela during 15th Jan (Makar Sankranti).
Tepantar Eco Theatre resort https://www.tepantar.co.in/– The space, located amidst rural serenity, is a good destination to enjoy theatre with usage of local props. For them, theatre is not just an art form but a way of life. This place provides visitors the opportunity to interact with theatre practitioners and co-create plays with them, located 30 minutes away from Santiniketan.
Natungram located at Kalna block in Purba Bardhaman is the hub of Wooden Doll artists and has evolved as a quite popular Cultural Tourism destination for art lovers, both for workshop/ demonstration and also to procure souvenirs/ gifts directly from the source. People can travel to Natungram from Santiniketan and also from Kolkata anytime during the year and may ask us at email@example.com for details.
The Ashram offers quality stay and food to visitors willing to experience culture with simple life in a peaceful space. Its located next to the forest range. Thus visitors love to have morning walk / cycling in the forest to be with the sound of chirping birds. The ashram has a small pond and a wide area where seasonal vegetables are cultivated. Guests can enjoy organic farming here too.
Kantha Weavers –There are 1500 women engaged in the weaving traditions living in the Ashram neighbourhood villages. One can interact with the artists and experience the weaving tradition, which is unique in its ethnicity, traditional appeal and contemporary allure. It is a form of an expression, narrating a story through the stitches https://youtu.be/X40L8-NcJbQ.
Chadar Badar – Chadar Badar (https://youtu.be/Rru8H54GjIw ) is an ancient indigenous form of puppetry; the puppets are made of bamboo or wood and are about 8 to 9 inches in height. Puppeteers use multiple self made instruments. Ideal time to visit Bannabagram Baul Ashram is between October and March. Bannabagaram Baul Ashram has its own annual Baul Fakiri Music Festival during the last weekend of November. About 250 Baul-Fakirs from different corners of West Bengal join the festival. This year Baul Fakiri Mela will be held at Bannabagram Baul Ashram on Nov 24 – 26, 2023https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Efe3C6LWDc8 .
We recommend at least 2 days of tour to Bannabagram Baul Ashram to experience the same. In case of 3-7 days of tour, we recommend visit to the places mentioned below also.
Santiniketan – Santiniketan, the World Heritage site, is 20 km away from Bannabagram Baul Ashram. The Visva Bharati University https://visvabharati.ac.in/, founded by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, is located here. Santiniketan’s architecture and natural surroundings perfectly capture Tagore’s idea of universalism. Apart from upholding the spirit of inclusive learning, Santiniketan is also the abode of various cultural heritages.
Tepantar Eco Theatre resort https://www.tepantar.co.in/– The space, located amidst rural serenity, is a good destination to enjoy theatre with usage of local props. For them, theatre is not just an art form but a way of life. This place provides visitors the opportunity to interact with theatre practitioners and co-create plays with them, located 20 minutes away from Santiniketan.
Dariyapur Dokra Hub – A visit to Bannabagram can be combined with a visit to the nearby Dokra artists’ village of Dariyapur. The place is 20 mins drive from the Ashram. Dokra is an ancient technique of production of non-ferrous metal ware by the metal casting process. The artisans follow the process which is believed to be 5000 years old to make figurines, animals, deities and jewellery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQwI-uKn9As.
Kushmundi is home of Wooden Mask makers and also has Dhokra weavers, Pottery, Basketry artists around. Mahisbathan – Wooden Mask, Kulator, Dehat, Pottery village – Kunoor, Basketry village – Daspara, Bamboo Mask – Baishyapara will give you a unique craft experience. Explore the villages, interact with artists, participate at workshop and see Community Museum at Kushmandi Wooden Mask Resource centre. Kushmundi also holds the Geographical Indication (GI) for the Wooden Mask art form. For details, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Naya village in Pingla in West Medinipur is home of 100+ Patachitra families. Visitors to Pingla will learn about Patachitra tradition and making & usage of natural colours, along with listening to the Patachitra songs, i.e, ‘Pater Gaan’ to know the stories of the paintings. Enjoy the Community Museum of the village. One can visit nearby village Sabang to see Madur weavers also. For details, please contact email@example.com.
Tepantar is a theatre village with a four-acre campus. In the last few years, it has evolved as a dynamic cultural hub. Lush greenery, chirping of birds, buzzing of bees make your stay really nice. Nearby places of visit includes Baul music hub Joydeb Kenduli, Shantiniketan, Kantha hub Nanoor, Bannabagram Baul Ashram, Dokra hub at Bikna in Bankura and Terracotta temples at Bishnupur. For details, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or, get in touch with Kallol Bhattacharya at email@example.com for accommodation at Tepantar. Tepantar also celebrates Dol/ Folk Holi, next edition on 18-20 March, 2022.
Purulia is a pied panorama of nature, people, culture and heritage. It is the land of the spectacular Chau dance inscribed in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010. Chau is a colorful, martial mask dance of eastern India. Nearly 180 families of Chau mask makers live in Charida village. This has evolved as a major Tourism destination for art lovers, both for workshop/ demonstration and also to procure souvenirs/ gifts directly from the source. They hold the annual mela in winter also. Charida also holds the Geographical Indication (GI) for the Chau Mask art form. For details, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or, get in touch with Pinaki Ganguly at email@example.com for accommodation at Charida itself.
Balarampur in Purulia is famous for Chau dance. Royal Chau Academy and Maldi Chau Shibir are quite known places for Chau practitioners. Chau dance inscribed in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010. Maldi Chau Shibir located next to Kumari dam has the Chau Resource Centre and also holds regular Chau training between 3 and 5 pm under the leadership of Jagannath Chowdhury and Biren Kalindi. For details, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Situated on 20 acres of land, Nimdih Gandhi Ashram is located at the foothills of Dalma in between Purulia and Jamshedpur. It offers a picturesque and enchanting view of the region and the Gandhi Ashram offers simple quality stay and food to visitors in a peaceful space https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y0t_gTqvMM . One can also visit different art and craft villages of Purulia from here for immersive cultural experience. Morning walk in the Dalma foothills, nearby villages, visit local haat will be enjoyed by the guests. Around 1000 different varieties of trees are in Nimdih Gandhi Ashram which has become the home of many birds. The day spends leisurely by identifying varieties of trees and listing the chirping of birds.
It can be a 2-4 days of trip.
Charida – Visit Charida https://youtu.be/bpvfvM6YDC8, the village of Chau mask makers along with a tour to neighbouring Ayodhya hills is recommended. The vibrant, colourful and elaborate Chau dance masks convey the vigorous intent of the art form that portrays animals or characters from the epics. About 180 families of Chau mask makers live in Charida village. This has evolved as a major destination for art lovers, both for workshop/ demonstration and also to procure souvenirs/ gifts directly from the artists.
Maldi – Maldi, a small village is the home of Chau dancers. Chau is an acrobatic martial art based dance form and inscribed in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScWzjvVv9tE. Here young Chau artists get regularly trained by the senior gurus https://youtu.be/5vCEOQD9hHI.
Bandwan Sabai Village – An indigenous community village located at 1.5 hrs driving distance from Nimdih ashram is the home of 200 artists involved with Sabai grass based craft making https://youtu.be/mOepCaSw3iI. Sabai Grass is a fine natural fibre that has the potential to be dyed. The local people are dependent on the surrounding forests for livelihood – the collection of a variety of leaves and grasses has been their main source of income over the period. Visitors can experience Sabai handicraft making here.
Sunderbans is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is renowned for its bio-diversity, unique landscape and the iconic mangrove forests. This landscape of the Sunderbans inspires the folk traditions of this land, such as Bonbibir Pala, a mythological play that revolves around the age-old conflict of man and animal. The mystic rivers of the Sunderbans inspire soul-stirring Bhatiyali songs. Likewise, another local tradition, Jhumur dance and songs, resonates through time. The land offers visitors an experience of a lifetime. For details, please contact email@example.com.