Our first stop of this tour will be Bishnupur, home to a collection of elaborate terracotta temples that resemble tiny jewel boxes. The Shyama Raya temple was built in 1643 and is completely covered with terracotta friezes depicting scenes from the Ramayana and the life of Lord Krishna. The Rasa Mancha temple resembles a flattened pyramid and features 108 symmetric pillars around its base. Other temples to be visited include Jor Bangla, Madan Mohan and Shridhara.
On the way to Shantiniketan en route at several artisan villages. West Bengal has a rich tradition of textile weaving and embroidery, and we will visit one or two rural enclaves where they still practice this art. We will also visit a village of potters that create the region’s famed Bankura horse votives out of red terracotta.
Shantiniketan, founded in 1921 by Rabindrinath Tagore, a revered poet, writer, musician and playwright. In 1913, Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and he is the author of the national anthem of both India and Bangladesh. He founded Shantiniketan (now Visva Bharati University) with the goal of creating a traditional Indian system of education in which gurus teach their disciples in open air, with an emphasis on the arts, humanities and Bengali culture. Afternoon visit to a local leather workshop, a village where they create primitive brass sculpture using the lost-wax method, and a local jeweler who utilizes only organic plant material in his designs.