On the way to Santiniketan
On the way to Santiniketan
I left for Azimganj station at seven in the morning from Murshidabad. The train that goes directly from here to Kabiguru Rabindranath’s Bolpur is also called Kabiguru. Unfortunately it was canceled today due to repairs. I started my journey to Santiniketan by taking the local train from Rampurhat.
Although it is risky in foreign countries, this journey alone always has a different flavor for me. You can go to see people around. Same goes for local trains. In this seat arrangement of 10 people sitting facing each other, 13 people from a Santal family are sitting next to me. Poverty clings to their worn-out bodies and clothes, but their eyes are full of joy. Everyone came in groups from home to bathe in the Ganges. In this region of West Bengal, the impression of simplicity in living as well as the diversity of languages is evident. In fact, the face of all the poor working people in the world looks the same to me, it seems a little too familiar.
It was 11:30 on reaching Rampurhat. Hoped to get ticket to Bolpur from here. It was found, but it will have to wait for another couple of hours. After waiting for a long time, I went to the bus station after asking people for information. Although the happiness in the bus journey is very much, but in this small life, I can see as much as I can in this vast world.
I ran around Rampurhat in a battery operated auto towards the bus station. Seeing the sweet shop next to the station, I couldn’t handle the temptation anymore. A plate full of six-seven varieties of delicious sweets cost an unbelievable Rs.45. Sweets are very cheap all over West Bengal. It’s a wonderful thing for a sweet tooth like me.
Go to the station and get the bus to Bolpur, but it takes about an hour. A bus was just leaving for Seuri stop in Birbhum. You can go to Bolpur via Siuri, after knowing that, I bought the ticket and left without thinking about it. The bus started running along the huge highway on the way to Suri. I was looking at the foreign roads and people with wonder.
It took about one and a half hour to reach Siuri from Rampurhat. Before getting off the bus, I ate banana bread to satisfy my worries about lunch. It didn’t take much effort to find a bus to Bolpur by asking people. After waiting for a while, when the journey started, I gave up and thought that I was moving towards my destination.
The seats of the buses in this direction of West Bengal are a little tight, so you have to sit a little tight. Locals necessarily take the bus because of the difference in fares, and where there is a train service, buses are out of the question unless absolutely necessary. Had a good conversation with the old woman in the next seat. He was surprised to hear that he was walking alone. After hearing about Santiniketan, he said that his grandson also got admission there this year. After a few more stories, I resigned myself to the window and focused on the view of man and nature. How much have I read about this Birbhum in West Bengal, heard it in various books and discussions. Seeing with your own eyes is a matter of fascination.
The bus started running. The road never ends. It is already noon. But if I catch Kabiguru train from Azimganj, I could reach Santiniketan within 11 hours. Of course, this aimless wandering in between and the bus journey would not have happened. Finally, after all the waiting, I reached Bhardupur, Bolpur, Kabiguru’s Santiniketan. From the bus stand, I looked for the means of transportation in Kolkata. Talking to people, I realized that the only public transport from here to Kolkata is the train to Howrah. I went to the train station first with a rickshaw. Reached Aradhya Santiniketan by auto after checking the last train today.
Since I plan to return to Kolkata today, I was looking around without delay. The area is so calm and mellow that just walking makes you feel good. Although it is a pilgrimage site for Rabindracharcha, it is not the case that Rabindra music can be heard here on the streets. After walking some distance, I realized that such a large area cannot be explored on foot. I reserved a toto or battery operated auto rickshaw from the gate for 150 rupees. The interesting thing is that all the toto drivers act as guides here and the descriptions of each establishment are said by heart. Saw this thing in Murshidabad too and it is definitely a skill of these professionals.
The journey to Santiniketan started in 1863 by Rabindranath Tagore’s father Devendranath Tagore. Although it was established as an ashram, Rabindranath established a Brahma Vidyalaya here in 1901 and gradually its scope continued to expand. Which was transformed into Visva Bharati University in 1951 after the independence of India. Rabindranath spent a long time in the latter part of his life here, so Santiniketan is considered the pilgrimage site of Rabindranath.
Santiniketan campus is like our public universities. But more quiet and noise free. Much like our Jahangirnagar. A wonderful afternoon can be spent sitting on the balcony of the building next to the courtyard grounds. I visited the historic Chatimatala, the beautiful worship building and other academic buildings nearby. After going a little further, the houses of some teaching officials were seen on the side of the road. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s house was also seen. Impressive aesthetics are evident in every home. Various works of art can be seen on the way. Hearing that I am from Bangladesh, the Toto driver took me to show the newly built Bangladesh building. The building seems to have been opened very recently.
Looking at the clock, I realized that it was time to return home. Santiniketan has such a huge area that it is not really possible to visit in a short time. Although after returning only regret is not staying one night in Bolpur. There was nothing to do due to lack of time. But the biggest regret remains not being able to see the Kopai River and the tribal area. Hopefully, if I live, I will go again sometime and definitely for a long time.