Ages back, a minute event used to be celebrated by the Tagore family in Shantiniketan, which turned to an eminent fiesta today that Bengal is recognized by. Poush Mela (fair) in Shantiniketan is one of the most vivacious winter carnivals celebrated on the 7th day of Poush month every year in Birbhum district of West Bengal. This is a melodious rural carnival of folk music (Baul), where numbers of village folk artists and visitors gather here during the tree-day event. Officially the festival lasts for three days, but you will get to see many vendors at the Mela Grounds till the end of Poush month. Visiting Poush Mela is a perfect blend of experiencing the spirit of Bengali traditions with some luminous artworks from various parts of India.
Apart from some amazing folk melody, you will also come across a variety of colourful stalls in the event exhibiting the dazzling handicrafts and printed fabric work of the local villagers. Some of the eye-catching Batik prints and Taant saree from Kanyakumari and Kashmir are the key attractions of handloom stores in Poush Mela.
An Overview of Poush Mela
As per Bengali calendar, the foundation of Poush Mela took place in 1250 on the 7th day of Poush (December 21st, 1843), when Devendranath Tagore accepted the statement of belief from 20 Brahmo Samaj followers. Those days the event used to take place on the north side of Brahma Mandir (the Kaanch Ghor or Glass House). Over times, the numbers of footfall has increased to a great extent at the event ground and consequently it was shifted to Purbapalli ground.
Today, Poush Utsav is featured by various tribal sports, folk composition and electrifying dance shows, which adds more ecstasy to this greatest carnival of Bengal. The flourishing performance by the students of Visva-Bharati University take this festival to an amazing level of delight.
Poush Mela in Shantiniketan kick-offs its sparkling sun-up with a soft tuneful touch of shehnai (a musical instrument). As per the event custom, Vaitalik group is first to enter the spiritual hermitage by signing songs, which is further followed by an entreaty meeting at Chhatimtala. After the prayer, they move to Uttarayan by singing songs.
Reasons to Visit Poush Mela
If Poush Mela is something you are still wonder about, here is why you should be a part of this colourful carnival in Shantiniketan:
#Old Traditional Fair: Poush Utsav or Poush Mela or Poush Fair, no matter how you name this carnival, Birbhum district of West Bengal witnesses ample of visitors every year during this three-day event. People flock across various parts of India and overseas to be a part of this 150 years old traditional winter festival in West Bengal. The base of this festival was formed ages back in 1843 as a consequence of Brahmo creed at Brahma Mandir, which is famed as Kaanch Ghor or Glass House today.
#Eye-catching Crafts: Poush Mela is one of the biggest exposures of local art and craft exhibited in the forms of taant, dhakai and striking Batik prints from Bengal and northern parts India. The handloom stores in the mela attract many tourists with their rural collections of craftworks and luring jewelleries.
#Luscious Eatables: Food is the essence of every carnival. And when it is on the soil of Bengal, expecting some lip-smacking eatables is quite an obvious thing here. Bengalis are famed for their rich traditions, intellects and delectable food habits. Visiting Poush Utsav caters you an exposure mingles of all. You will get to taste a wide variety of sweet items like Paati saptha, sandesh, jalebi and Mathura ka Peda. Out of these, another sweet item that one must try here at Poush Utsav is Pancakes. It is made of local jiggery, coconut, rice and pure milk. In addition, presence of numerous salty and spicy items likes ghugni, chop (kind of cutlet), phuchka and jhal muri (a mixture of puffed rice) also let you fell the Bengali spirit in actual sense.
#Folk Music: Vibrant art and colourful culture distinguishes Bengal from other parts of the country. Poush Mela is known for its electrifying folk music, which is scarce amongst the contemporary crowd. In Poush Mela, you get an elite opportunity to enjoy the blend of Baul’s minstrels with rhythmic dance performances by the tribal dancers of Birbhum. The key attraction of the musical event is the wondrous lyrics, which turns the carnival more energetic with the melodious voice of Bauls (folk singer) and their single stringed music instrument ektaras.
#Rides and Fireworks: The traditional fair in Shantiniketan reveals a sparkling dusk with some animated fireworks in the sky. Such fireworks mostly take place on the second day of the event when spectators rush to the fairground to take a possession of the front rows seats. The eternal beauty of Poush Utsav gives you a dazzling visa of the fair from its tall stand Ferris wheel (Nagordola). The audacious ride with screams from an elevation will surely take back to your childhood. Visitors find such rides a real fun!
So if you are still baffled and can’t make out a decision, believe me Poush Mela is something that you are going to cherish for long.
How to Reach
The winter carnival in the Birbhum district of West Bengal offers you a true essence of food, arts and culture. Numerous tourists visit every year to witness this amazing Poush Mela. Located around 170Kms away from Kolkata, Shantiniketan is well-connected to the city of Kolkata and other parts of the nation. Therefore, you can reach there by any of the following means of transports:
The connectivity between Shantiniketan and Kolkata is quite convenient. You will get number of busses for Kolkata-Asansol and Kolkata-Suri routes. For Kolkata-Asansol routes, you need to get down at Panagarh and change the bus to reach Shantiniketan. Similarly, if you get into the Suri bound bus, deboard near Ilambazar and change the bus that will take you to Shantiniketan.
Travelling by car is an excellent way to explore the natural beauty of environs. The 163 km distance from Kolkata to Shantiniketan can be crossed in 3 hours by road. On the way you will get some key stops like Singur, Bardhaman, Godda and Bolpur. Crossing the narrow roadways of Panagarh take right turn from Darjeeling Mor. Once you reach the Ajay River by highway take right, which will take you to Ilambazar and then proceed towards Bolpur. You can also travel from Dankuni by Durgapur Expressway, which is now a part of NH2.
The nearest railway station to Shantiniketan is Bolpor Station, which is within merely 3Kms reach. Once you reach Bolpor Station, you can hire cab or bus towards your destination. From Kolkata, reaching Shantiniketan is around 2-3 hours train journey. Some of the trains that you may travel by are Malda Inter-city Express from Howrah at 3.25PM, Kanchenjunga Express from Sealdah at 6.45AM, Sahid Rampurhat from Howrah at 12PM, Gana Devta Express from Howrah at 6.05AM and Shantiniketan Express Howrah at 10.05AM.
In addition, you can also try some other trains like Saraighat Express, Visvabharati Fast Passenger, Darbhanga Passenger, Jamalpur Express etc.
Shantiniketan has no airport; hence if you are travelling from other parts of India, you need to book your flights till Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata. Once you reach Kolkata airport, you can hire a cab or follow the above mentioned means of transport to reach Shantiniketan.
Places to Stay
In order to enjoy the sheer Poush Festival in Shantiniketan, tourists often focus on finding some comfortable accommodations in nearby localities. Though the charges of hotels and guest houses drastically climb up during Poush Festival, but visitors can still find some of the good pleases to stay here by spending an approximate amount of Rs. 2,000 to Rs.4000 or more.
The following are few quality staying options listed for you with good amenities:
#Mark & Meadows, Shantiniketan
Sriniketan Road, Bolpur, Birbhum,
Sriniketan Road, West Bengal India
Santiniketan,Bolpur Uttarapally (Goalpara),
731204 Bolpur, India
#Park Guest House, Shantiniketan
Deer Park, Visva-Bharati University Campus,
Bolpur, Birbhum Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary (Deer Park)
Shantiniketan – 731204, West Bengal
#Deer Park Eco Home
Deer Park, Santiniketan, Birbhum,
West Bengal, 731235 Bolpur, India
#Shanti Neer Lodge
Gurupalli, Santiniketan, Bolpur, Birbhum,
West Bengal, 731235 Bolpur, India
#Rangamati Garden Resort
Near Prantik Railway Station, Santiniketan,
Birbhum, 731235 Bolpur, India
#LODGE LIPIKA, Shantiniketan
Near Bolpur Railway Station, West Bengal India
#Hotel Rangamati, Shantiniketan
Bhubandanga,Tourist Lodge Road,Santiniketan,
Bolpur, , Bhubandanga , West Bengal India