"The land of the red soil" (Lalbhumi) is also "the land of the brave". Several brave kings have dominated Birbhum since the beginning. Remnants of civilizations add profound historical importance to place. The district headquarters is Suri. Bolpur-Shantiniketan, Nanor, Joydev-Kenduli, Bakreswar and Nalhati are the principal sites of attraction here. The Visva Bharati University at Shantiniketan, established by Rabindranath Tagore, is one of the internationally renowned places. Many festivals are celebrated in this culturally rich district - Poush Mela, Basanta Utsav, Kenduli Mela etc. Trapaith and Bakreswar are other famous places of attractions.
At a Glance
District Head Hq-
4,545 Sq Kms
35,02,404 (Ref: Census 2011)
Best time to visit-
Places of Interest-
Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary
Kaleswar Shiv Mandir
Tarapith, Shantiniketan, Bolpur
Distance from Kolkata-
Shantiniketan is a tourist attraction mainly because Rabindranath lived here and penned many of his literary classics (namely Rabindrasangeet, poems, novels etc.) here at his home where is a place of historical importance. The Shantiniketan campus is adorned by splendid sculptures, frescoes, murals, and paintings of Rabindranath, Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar, Binodbehari Mukhopadhyay and others. Birbhum District, where Shantiniketan is located, is also famous for its fairs and festivals like Poush Mela (December), Joydev Mela (January), Basanta Utsav (Holi) in March and the famous mystic Baul Singers. Rabindra Janmotsav is celebrated in mid-April to mark the Bengali New Year and as well Tagore's Anniversary. Briksharopan, the festival of planting saplings, and Halakarshan, the festival of plowing the fields, are celebrated on 22nd and 23rd day of Sravana (August). Varshamangal, the festival of rains, is celebrated during August/September. Poush Mela is an annual fair and festival that takes place in Shantiniketan. Commencing on the 7th day of the month of Poush (Dec-Jan), the fair officially lasts for three days, although vendors may stay up until the month-end. Poush Mela is characterised by its live performances of Bengali folk music, specially traditional bauls, wandering minstrels singing Bengali songs. Tribal dances (i.e. santali) are also the part of the fair.
How to reach
Air Service: The nearest airport is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose international airport, which is located at Kolkata.
Train Service: The nearest railhead is Bolpur. Frequently Trains are available from both Howrah and Sealdah (Kolkata) to Bolpur.
Road Service: An excellent road connects Shantiniketan with Kolkata. Other major cities are well connected by road with the place.
Poush Mela is the most remarkable annual fair here, held towards the end of December, marking the foundation day of Shantiniketan. Holi or Vasant Utsav is a popular festival here, which is observed with colours and fervour. Other melas like Barsha Mangal and Halakarshan Utsav also attract tourists to Shantiniketan.
Poush Mela is one of the main festivals in the district of Birbhum. Poush Mela is celebrated with great pomp and grandeur in Birbhum and its diversity spreads World Wide. The fair takes place for a week and in that week the place takes a different shape with people from different parts of the world. This fair is the place where different cultures mingle perfectly. On one side you can get the true spirit of Bengal in the form of local music and dance on the other hand people from different part of the country come and blend perfectly.
Tarapith, 80 km from Bolpur, is situated near the Dwaraka River in Birbhum, West Bengal. Close by to the Temple is the Bamdev Shangha Ashram. Enshrined at the Temple is a Murti of the Maa Tara, who according to local legend suckled the thirsty Shiva, and saved him from suffering. The Murti is covered in a golden mask during the day, and during the night they remove this covering. She is described as holding two snakes in her hands, with Lord Shiva on her lap suckling.
How to reach
By Air: The nearest airport Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport is at Kolkata. One can avail taxi or bus services from airport to reach Tarapith.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Rampurhat. Taxi services from railway station to Tarapith are available. Rampurhat is well linked with Howrah and Sealdah.
By Road: The state owned and private buses connect Tarapith with Esplanade / Dharamtala bus stand of Kolkata and with the neighboring cities of the state.
Birbhum District was inhabited by a number of people belonging to different sects, which makes the land as the blend of both indigenous and alien culture. The diverse culture of Birbhum from the prehistoric times and its rural society was the focus for the poets of Vaishnava and Shakta Padabali. However it was the folk culture, which gets prominence in the post-independence period. The folk culture or rather the native culture of Birbhum district was specially augmented by the contribution of the bauls, their philosophy and their music. The Baulism culture emerged as a religiously liberal philosophy and lifestyle which conforms to the ideals of Sahajyan movement, a refined form of Vajrayan movement, also supplemented by the influence of Vaishnavism and Sufism. The bauls who earn their living by singing & collecting alms, accommodate people from all castes & creed. "Baul" is the true replica of the mixed culture of the land and the truly modern bauls upheld a broader yet liberal perspective of life and culture. Tagore was immensely influenced by the bauls and some of his works are endowed with the Baul philosophy. Birbhum is the hub of Bengal's folk culture. In addition to being a confluence of Vaishnav, Shakta and Shaiva culture, Birbhum villages also observes the worship of "Gramadevata" or God of the village popularly known as the "Dharma Thakur", symbolized by a stone Tribals like bagdi, dome, hari, bauri worship "Dharma Thakur". The folks of Birbhum are the clear representation of the spirit of rural Bengal.
It was made famous by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose vision became what is now a University town - Visva-Bharati University. The place now attracts thousands of visitors each year. In 1901, Tagore started a school at Shantiniketan named Bramhachari Ashram that was modeled on the lines of the ancient Gurukul system which later came to be known as the Patha Bhavan, the school of his ideals, whose central premise was that learning in a natural environment would be more enjoyable and fruitful. Tagore envisioned a center of learning which would have the best of both the east and the west. After he received the Nobel Prize (1913), it enhanced not only the pride of India but also the prestige of Shantiniketan. The school was expanded into a University. It was named Visva-Bharati.
How to reach
Visva-Bharati is ensconced in a rural setting in the district of Birbhum, about 160 km by road from Kolkata. The nearest railway station is Bolpur (Santiniketan) on the Eastern Railway and the air-terminal is Kolkata Airport.
Bauls are a group of mystic minstrels from Bengal. The term Baul refers to both a syncretic religious sect and a musical tradition used as a vehicle to express Baul thought. Bauls are a very heterogeneous group, with many different streams to the sect, but their membership mainly consists of Vaishnavite Hindus and Sufi Muslims. Visitors can be often identified by their distinctive clothes and musical instruments, such as the ektara. Though Bauls comprise only a small fraction of the Bengali population, their influence on the culture of Bengal is considerable. In 2005, the Baul tradition was included in the list of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.
Mama Vagne Pahar
Mama Bhagne Paharh is a rock formation near Dubrajpur town of district Birbhum. It is a pair of almost spherical natural boulders of granite rock, one balancing on the top of other. The balancing of the rocks are so surprising that it is a famous landmark in West Bengal, where it is known as Mama Bhagne (the uncle and the nephew). The site has a number of boulders splintered across the place. It is the extreme eastern part of the Chota Nagpur plateau where the granite is gray and composed of glassy quartz pink, gray feldspar and black mica at the base of the rocks is a temple of Shiva entitled Pahareswar.
HOW TO REACH
By Air: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport is the nearest Airport.
By Train: It is well connected with Kolkata and Howrah by train.
By Road: Suri is the Administrative headquarters of Birbhum and it is well connected with the major cities in West Bengal as well as India by road.