Those of us who know about Rabindranath Tagore, often plan a visit to Shantiniketan. Those who wish to explore Kolkata, ensure a visit to this revered and beautiful space. But very few know of Shaniberar Haat.
Besides a small and gurgling river, amidst a clearing in the forest, a secret world comes alive every week. Saffron clad sadhus play the ektara, the ancient one-stringed instrument. They are the regional Baul singers, who sing out the traditional songs with great style and divinity. Artisans from nearby villages, come with their wares. Women sell homemade delicacies. The air is rendered with festive joy and happy spirits.
Image Credit: tarasclub
This is the Shaniberar Haat, held every Saturday near Shantiniketan. Activity reaches a peak at 3 p.m. And the local villagers leave under the light of dusk at 6 p.m. They don’t use the artificial light of any form. For these three hours, artisans make crafts before your eyes and sell them. To buy a charm warm from the hands of its maker is a great joy. Somewhere a woman will be making the local sweet Nolen Gur with dates and jaggery.
Image Credit: blogspot
There are also many artists. They will paint your portrait or some other panorama on their canvas, within a jiffy, while you wait to devour some hot pakora, or while you listen to the soulful renditions of the Baul singers.
There is music and dance everywhere. Local performers, who have learnt the art from their families, keep the momentum always high. You can explore many regional traditions in one place.
Image Credit: media
This is also a great place to do photography. There is so much colour and vividness everywhere. It is like a magical world, which comes alive for a few hours, and allows you to experience its surreal charm.
You can arrive at the Haat, by taking a train from Kolkata to Bolapur, a journey that takes about four hours. From Bolapur, you can take an auto for a short ride of 15 minutes, to arrive at the forest clearing.
So, if you want to immerse in the local culture and tradition at Shantiniketan, plan a visit on Saturday to enjoy the magical experience at Shaniberar.