Ten Second Takeaway

The Poush Mela in Santiniketan offers visitors an authentic mela experience, with arts, food and an explosion of culture. The mela takes place every year in the last week of December.

Reaching Poush

Come December and the sleepy Bolpur train station starts¬†buzzing with energy, ready to welcome visitors from far and wide, bound for nearby Santiniketan. The last week of the year is a time of celebration and merry-making here, led by the famous Poush Mela. Started by philosopher and religious reformer Debendranath Tagore, over the years it has gained immense popularity among tourists who want a slice of rural life. The otherwise sombre hamlet, where students of Visva-Bharati University {which was started by Debendranath’s slightly more famous son, Rabindranath} are often seen hanging out together, is full of excitement around this time.

The mela experience

Free to use pictureThe Poush Mela still holds the essence of a quintessential, traditional mela or village fair. The action starts before you even reach the mela grounds with rickshaw-wallahs literally dragging you to the venue. The aroma of roasted peanuts and old yellowed books greet you as you enter the sprawling field. While children enjoy their rides and candy floss, the women get themselves busy with shopping as the choices here are limitless.

Be it local handicraft, terracotta from Bishnupur or exquisite leatherwork, the mela has it all. Tagore started the mela with the idea of promoting local artisans, and even today they are an integral part of the fair.

The culinary delights are also not to be missed. There are rows of kiosks selling a wide assortment of cutlets, locally known as chops. And their variety is unending: Potato, banana flower, fish or egg fillings. Don’t forget to take a look around the Visva-Bharati University campus; important sculptures of Ramkinkar Baij, life size murals and many interesting artwork greet you at every corner.

Where: Santiniketan (Nearest Railway Station, Bolpur)

When: Last week of December, every year

Contact: www.wbtourism.gov.in (West Bengal Tourism organises tours to Santiniketan)

Distance: 170kms from Kolkata

Feature image courtesy: Neelsky/Shutterstock