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Review: Baul Mon Resort – Shantiniketan’s hidden gem

Review: Baul Mon Resort – Shantiniketan’s hidden gem

Shantiniketan is West Bengal’s soul of art and literature and a world famous tourist spot as well. Given its popularity over the years Shantiniketan has several hotels and guest houses, but it is difficult to guess which ones to stay at. The ones already popular don’t come cheap and the ones good but not too popular are not easy to find due to lack of information on internet and booking websites.

During my search for one such place that would provide me the rural life experience I came across this resort called ‘Baul Mon’. Best not booked via online booking website, since even though the resort is listed in a few booking websites but they do not officially take bookings made via booking websites. Best is to book by calling them, details available at www.baulmonn.in .

The main building

The Space: The resort is just the kind of place you would want to stay in on a trip to a country side place like Shantiniketan. Abundant with green trees and ample space, the resort has cottages as well as rooms in 2 storey buildings. Rooms are big and clean. There is a restaurant as well serving all 2 meals, but the restaurant needs to be informed in advance if you want to have your meals the restaurant.

Cottage I stayed in

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What I liked: Abundant space to chill, a stage for Baul singer performances that take place on evenings. There is also a huge cage with pretty love birds and they also have a bunch of rabbits and a dozen pet dogs. It is a great way to spend the mornings watching the pets and feeding the rabbits. The backside of the resort is a huge rice field and as the night sets in, there is pin drop silence and all one can hear is the sound of fire flies. In winters, ask the resort staff to light a bonfire, and it is even such a lovely experience to enjoy some time in the midst of peace and calm. Personally for me I would definitely return back to this place to stay.

Feeding the rabbits in the morning
The rice fields behind my cottage
A sculpture in the Resort garden
Lovebirds in the garden
Pebbled lanes inside the resort
Pet dogs in the resort napping in the afternoon

What is not there: Of course as described above, you might have guessed this is a no flare place, so it would be unreasonable to expect flare and show. The resort is simple and neat with all basic amenities and justifies the essence of the Shantiniketan, simple and peaceful. I personally feel that coming to Shantiniketan and wanting to stay in a fancy hotel or resort takes away the spirit of enjoying the rural country side experience, although this is just my opinion.

Shantiniketan – An Art Lover’s Paradise

Shantiniketan – An Art Lover’s Paradise

‘Shantiniketan’ meaning ‘Adobe of Shanti or peace’ is a place true to its name and a true art, nature and peace lover’s paradise.

Shantiniketan is home to the world famous Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Having stayed at a distance of 160 kms from Shantiniketan in Kolkata for the last 4 years and yet not having visited the place was something that was always at the back of my mind. So recently I finally ended up spending a weekend in this stunning abode of art, culture and literature.  Here I have shared some photos from my weekend stay in Shantiniketan.

The moment you set foot in Bolpur, where Shantiniketan is situated, the first thing one would notice is the vibrant red color of the soil, the reason why it is also called the land of ‘Lal Matti’ meaning land of red soil.

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‘Lal Matti’ – Red soil

In the evening I wandered over the nearby ‘Haat’ meaning flee market. The one is called the Biswa Bangla Haat with proper stalls selling handmade and painted things made by the locals put up for sale. Trust me shopping here is a dream, such reasonable prices and such beautiful work of art on sale, such as hand painted umbrellas and painted wall hangings.

Hand painted umbrella
Local hand painted wall hangings
The permanent shops at the ‘Haat’

After spending some time at the Haat buying local handcrafted things, while wandering around we came across this beautiful park cum boating area called ‘Shyor Bithi’. Not a usual tourist spot, trust me it  a lovely secluded park and a great way to spend sometime in nature. It also have a restaurant, and to my surprise it was serving all cuisines like indian, chinese, even Italian.

Entrance to the park
The beautiful park over looking the boating area

Next morning we left early to visit the very holy ‘KanKalitala’ temple, a hindu temple of great significance for the local people here. It is at a few kms from Bolpur and one can easily hire an auto to take you there. The trip to Kankalitala is worth even if you are not too keen about religious things, the ride to the temple is through untouched villages and fields and such a great way to enjoy the country and village side scene. The streets around the temple is usually buzzing with shops selling offering for Godess Kali, such as colorful hibiscus garlands and incence sticks.

Hibiscus garlands on sale
The village side scene

Finally in the afternoon I ended up in the Visva-Bharati University founded by Rabindranath Tagore who called it Visva-Bharati,  meaning the communion of the world with India. First thing you notice once you enter the campus is huge trees and open spaces with study areas under the trees, one of the most unique things about the university is the concept of teaching under trees, which is still practiced today. There is the museum inside the campus with things Tagore used to use, his writings and other things related to his life on display. It takes well over a good 5-6 hrs to explore the entire campus along with the museum.

Open study areas under the trees
Museum comprising of a permanent display section and the five homes lived in by Tagore,
Art installations in the gardens inside the campus

Inside ‘Kala Bhavana’ a well-known and distinguished centre for Visual Art practice and research in India.

 

Further into the campus there is a section on display showcasing the huts and lifestyle of villagers from all regions in India like how the people in the villages in Orrisa live, how their huts are, etc. Other huts on display are from Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram,etc..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a tiring day spent exploring the University and museum, I headed off the the most interesting part of the trip, to the weekend ‘haat’ which gathers every weekend by the bank of the river there. Trust me you wouldn’t want to miss this for the world. As the evening commences so does the electrifying and infectious atmosphere by the banks of the river. The air is filled with local musicians playing baul music and it is such a festive and joyous feeling all around, almost as if you would want to tap your foot and dance and sing along.Don’t forget to grab an out of the world bengali lunch served in Lotus leaves in the hut style ‘Shakuntala’ restaurant right on the banks of the river beside the haat. Be sure to reach there early fr lunch else expect a long queue or worst id food gets over. I had the best mutton curry and shukto here. Such a great way to have lunch on the banks of the river amidst baul music and hands down delicious home style cooked food served on lotus leaves and terracota vessels.

Some  of the things for sale in the weekend haat. It is common for college kids and others with interest in art to come and sell their art work here. Its is a kingdom of art work, especially for me I did not want the evening to end. Home decor, fabric, bags, sarees what was not there to buy.  Rest assured I am definitely coming back here just to admire the sheer talent and art work display.

Local handircraft on saleAlas! after a soul satisfying trip of Shantniketan, I was off back home but not without visiting the newly opened museum ‘Gitanjali’ very close to Railway station that tells the story of ‘Gitanjali’ (the collection of poems for which Tagore received the Nobel prize) and Tagore.