If you’re looking to discover yourself, find inner peace and attain meaningful experiences, then look no further than the Garden Bungalow at Shantiniketan. A veritable nerve centre of Bengal’s art and culture, Shantiniketan-named by famous poet Rabindranath Tagore and literally meaning ‘abode of peace’ is a small town located in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. Over the years, this rural paradise that served as Tagore’s erstwhile home has become a thriving centre of art and education. Aptly-named the Garden Bungalow, it rests amid the expanse of a lush 3.5-acre garden, housing exotic trees, creepers and shrubs. Far removed from the hubbub of city life and in close proximity to the famous Khowai forests of Shantiniketan, the Bungalow is reminiscent of 19th century Bengal’s Zamindari bungalows. It is flanked by a sprawling garden and lotus ponds, evoking a sense of rural Bengal’s nostalgia and tranquillity.
The colonial Garden Bungalow, with a mud house and several sculpted installations standing in the verdant garden, is tastefully furnished with antiques, each telling its own unique history and contributing to the rich character of the place.
These have been collected from royal homes across West Bengal and tell the tales of a bygone era, allowing you to wander into Bengal’s aristocratic past. The Garden Bungalow can be seen as an art installation, blending the efforts of a sculptor, a painter and a gardening enthusiast. Incorporating its inputs to capture the essence of Shantiniketan, the Bungalow also thus reflects Tagore’s legacy and presence, which is felt in every brick of Shantiniketan till date. The magnificent wood carvings across the door panels and on the windows have been patiently crafted by wood-carvers of the Dinajpur district and speak volumes of the perfect synthesis of traditional design, extraordinary craftsmanship and unconventional artistic imagination.
Although the place reflects an old-world charm, it has been equipped with a complete set of modern amenities for your comfort. The cosy accommodation also offers options you can choose from to create a wonderful world of marvel and inspiration. The Poet’s Recluse, located closest to the lotus ponds, fills the senses with a fragrant breeze through the flowering trees and allows a creative mind to explore its deeper emotional realm. The Painter’s Retreat, on the other hand, is evocative of a well-ventilated gallery with a beautiful vignette of colours and scenery to behold. The King’s Chambers, ornamented with the most luxurious furnishings, provides you with uninterrupted views of the sprawling garden to truly live life king-size, and The Bahaar Hall, appropriately named after the Raag Bahaar of Hindustani Classical genre, is a delightful muse for musical intellects, with the sound, view and feel of trees. All the suites open up to spacious verandas and terraces, giving you ample opportunities to absorb the natural view and experience peace.
The only sounds you will hear are the call of birds and rustling of trees, allowing you to soak in the serenity of the surroundings. Experience a holistic joy by engaging with nature with day time activities such as bird watching and gardening. Or, go for a nature walk, fishing and river trekking, just minutes away from the peaceful haven. For the more adventurous, the hotel offers an adrenaline pumping jeep safari through the ravines. The Santhali village is worth exploring if you’re interested in unravelling the innocence and culture of a simpler life. As the day turns into night, prepare for an enchanting experience as you are embraced by culture and art in more ways than one. Walk into the quaint workshops of village craftsmen and artists, get to learn about their art and pick up charming souvenirs which will remind you about these fascinating tales.
Meanwhile, at the Garden Bungalow, Indian classical musicians will transform the place into a cultural and spiritual melting pot. Bauls, traditional Bengali folk singers, will take you through a spiritual journey with their mystical lyrics, melody and dance, while Santhali group dancers will keep you entertained with the lore of their cultural heritage. However, if you wish to drown in the silence of the Bungalow’s haunting beauty, you can gaze at the stars, enjoy the sounds of crickets and night birds and experience total isolation. The Garden Bungalow is a destination in itself and will leave you spellbound through its captivating interplay of nature, culture and heritage.