Shantiniketan literally means a peaceful abode but is more popular as a destination, as an institute, as a campus for recreation, as a place of social welfare, as a place beauty within nature. It is famed for the great polymath and the first non-European Nobel Laureate Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore who spent a considerable amount of his life in Shantiniketan. He founded the Vishwa Bharati University and propagated the concept of open-air education in Shantiniketan.
Bishnupur, in Bankura district of West Bengal, is known for its famous Terracotta temples. The name of Bishnupur comes to the top of the list when there is a mention of terracotta temples in India and this tiny region holds the maximum number of these remarkable structures of ancient art and architecture. Terracotta is an old form of art made of clay which is then baked and glazed. The Bishnupur temples are wonderful examples where terracotta art has been used in its unique way.
Ajodhya Pahar or the Ajodhya Hills is a small plateau surrounded by the Dalma Hills, an extended part of the Eastern Ghats in Purulia district of West Bengal. No, don’t be mistaken by the name of Ajodhya that sounds similar to Ayodhya, a city in the present day Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh and mythologically famed to be the birthplace of Rama from the epic Ramayana. Our Ajodhya too has a link with the story of Ramayana but nothing to do with its famous namesake of Ayodhya. This is a small forested region nestled within the breathtaking view of hill ranges and inhabited by hardworking tribal communities.
The Chhau masks are an integral part of the world famous Chhau Dance, essentially a war-like folk dance involving acrobatic moves and martial art forms. This dance form is based on mythological stories and Hindu religious themes. The Chhau dance has been listed under the UNESCO’s world heritage list of dances, thus having international recognition. While Bollywood owes the credit to make it popular among the Indian maas. The Chhau mask that is a vital part of the dance is made in a tiny village named Charida in the Bagmundi circle of Purulia district in West Bengal.
Today I want to take my readers to a different, unique, much loved and much sought after destination. A destination that was very Indian and East Asian in ancient times but later it was opened for the whole world. A destination, that is so rich, colourful, flavourful and tasteful, that it takes you to the seventh Heaven. I can confirm that all of you have been here, so I will again take you to this utopian summer destination of ‘Mango-land’.
With the mercury soaring higher and higher in the summer months this year, people from every state of our tropical country are almost baking in an oven. All seeking a respite from heatwaves tries various ways and implements different techniques. Thus an idea popped in my mind, why not get a short break from this sweltering heat by going to nearby Scotland – the Scotland of India, yes our very own Coorg.
The mesmerizing atmosphere in some breathtaking landscapes, where on every turn you are embraced by the gurgling stream rushing down as a succulent waterfall or some gaping fathomless gorges or some mighty mountains blocking your way or the fragrant moist air carrying the scent of the wildflowers or the dense cloud, ready to pour down to unveil the warm sun or the tiny peaceful village with a handful of diligent locals or a small bridge over the agile young river or the snowcapped mountains standing high or the group of yaks foraging in the fields… it is Nature’s child – flawless and divine, it is North Sikkim.