Shanti Town IV

The road takes us through a level crossing at the Prantik Station and through the Canal Side Road to the Sonajhuri More. A left turn accross a bridge over the canal takes us closer towards the peaceful town now abuzz with activities of the day. Saturday and Sundays do not mean the weekend fro the people here….a rebelious against Rules, Rabindranath Tagore wanted an unconventional day to be the end of the week…and so on Wednesdays this town, just a little over 225 kilometres away from the Kolkata Metropolis enjoys a Sunday! Good for us travellers though who have only the conventional weekends to get away from the grind to the shelter of the Shanti Town.

The car passes through Shyambati with trees lining both sides of the road interspersed with picturesqe houses with fascinatingly appealing names. As we slowly leave Shyambati behind we enter the University Area with the first glimpse of the hind part of the Uttarayan Complex – the poets home. On the other side of the road within the boundaries of the Univer sity stands the Upashona Griho, believed to be the prayer hall where Maharshi Debendra Nath Tagore held prayer meets of the then much coveted Brahmo Samaj. The stained glass walls of the Upashana Griho creates a thousand hues as sunlight streaks through. I could almost hear the chorus of voices offering an ode to the formless God…I could hear ‘Noyono tomare payna dekhite royecho noyone noyone…hridoy tomare pay na janite hridoye royecho gopone’…Close by stands the much revered Chhatimtola. The Uttaryan Complex, once home to the poet stretches accross a wide area close to the University More. A part of it now transformed into a museum, is open to tourists to view remnants and aspects of the poet’s life. It was from here that the coveted Noble Prize was stolen! The complex has a museum known as Bichitra where there has been an attempt to capture glimpses from Rabindra Nath Tagore’s life. Nandan, the art gallery is also a must watch. As we stroll accross the first building, an extension of the Museum and the Art Gallery is Udayan – One of the five abodes of the poet within the areas of the complex. Standing neatly one after another at considerable distances are Konarka, Shyamoli, Udichi and Punoscho.The poet is said to have spent time in each of these buildings as he went on weaving one master creation after another.

Leaving the gates of the complex, we stepped into the University Campus. The stretch and vastness complemented beautifully by a strange feeling or freedom and being back to the roots gripped me as always. Never an ardent believer in rules, Gurudev had initiated this Institution in 1901 where education till date is carried on in the same way – in harmony with Nature. Unlike any school or university in the world, classes are still held in this centre for learning and culture, in the open under huge trees in the very lap of nature. The dream of the Poet materialized to its utmost when Vishwabharati was declared a Central University in 1951.Walking through the peaceful campus one by one we passed Gour Prangon, The University Grounds, Vidya Bhavan, Patha Bhavan, Siksha Bhavan, Vinay Bhavan, China Bhavan, Hindi Bhavan. Sangeet Bhavan and Kala Bhavan fall on the other side of the campus close to the much known Kalo Bari. The campus, the comfortable warm breeze and the peaceful ambience at once transferred me to a a state we friends refer to as ‘Haloo’ – a short form of halucination. Not an exact meaning though, the mind at this state travels through time, space and reality to a state of absolute trans where reality seems to get further and further away from you. The huge trees with Krishnochura, Radhachura and Polash crowning their green heads offers solace and refuge to us weirdly urbane creatures, who behind the facade of modernity and urbanity, long to return to their roots at the slightest pretext.

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