FAq ( Frequently Asked Questions)

We are a family of artist, designer, statisticians and dreamers who still believe in fairy tales. Based in Kolkata, India and the United States, some of us have a habit of frequently disappearing and getting disconnected from the busy world.

We made choupahari for those who don’t like to live a practical life all the time and want to experience Santiniketan the way we do –  bliss through all five senses . In creating Choupahari, we sought to craft a building that didn’t interrupt the beautiful surroundings, instead complementing the natural landscape. Every detail of Choupahari was designed by us; the house shelters daydreaming. Come dream with us.

We have named our boutique HOME-STAY resort ‘Choupahari’ as it is located at the edge of the beautiful “Choupahari forest”. We want to put a sustained effort to rejuvenate the depleting forest cover of the adjoining areas, and conserve the threatened flora and fauna of the region by inviting people’s attention and through educating them.

Choupahari forest lies between 8736’47’’-8733’00’’ East longitude and 2337’00’’-2339’00’’ North Latitude and is under Illambazar police station. While most of the forests in Birbhum district are on lateritic soil, the Choupahari Sal forests in the Ilambazar area (area 13.9 km²) are on both alluvial and lateritic soil with moderate water retention capacity. The grey colour sandy soil represents alluvial soil with coarse grain texture. The reddish colour soil represents lateritic soil in patches mixed up with pebbles and gravels, known as ‘moram’ to the locals.

Birbhum was one of the worst sufferers of the famine of 1770 followed by peasants’ insurrection. Many villages were entirely depopulated and the choupahari forest around Illambazar was on the verge of extinction in the nineties of the previous century. Though it has got back some of its flora and fauna, the wild life of foxes, wild cats, wolf packs, rabbits, wild boars, hyenas, wild fowl, partridges and the odd leopard have vanished completely. Once the thick forest which has a visibility down to 40 to 50 meters now has a visibility of over a kilometer.

Still choupahari forest is visited by Crow Pheasants, Pigeons, Green pigeons, Indian Magpies, Kingfishers, Indian Robins, Drongos, Hawk Cuckoos, Common cuckoos, Sun Birds, Indian Rollers, Parrots, Babblers, Common Ioras, Baya Weavers, Shamas, Bee-eaters, Tailorbirds, Egrets, Herons, Golden Orioles, Blue Flycatchers, Paradise Flycatchers, Long-tailed Nightjar etc. Tourists can enjoy the different known and unknown birds chirping and twittering in the morning while staying at our resort.

The far reaching scent of the Mahua flowers and fruits in bloom attract monkeys and wild elephants dwelling in the Dalma range of the neighbouring state of Jharkhand. They come in search for food, sometimes trampling crops and threatening life and property on the way.

The villagers, living in 32 villages located inside the forest, have realised that they can make a living by selling plates (thalis) made of sal leaves and mushrooms (locally called toshor ghuti) both abundantly available in the forest. The forest department formed 12 ‘Bonosamrakshan committees’ (forest preservation committees) comprising the villagers and made them understand how their survival was linked with that of the forest.

Choupahari resort is located near the Bonovilla Bus stand adjuscent to the eastern end of the Choupahari forest on Bolpur-Illambazar road near ‘Confetti exports’, a popular village workshop that makes hand crafted, lead free, non toxic, microwave-friendly potteries.

As the rapid growth of urbanisation has taken away some of Santiniketan’s old charm, we deliberately made “Choupahari” a little away from it, bordering the calm, serene Choupahari forest. It is a perfect getaway to experience the peace and tranquillity of timelessness and to re-energise, reinvigorate and re-awaken yourself.

We have four ‘over-sized’ Queen rooms each having a private bathroom with geyser, a balcony and a kitchenette . The tariff for each unit is INR. 5,500 only. We also have two first-floor King rooms with mezzanine floors, the charges of each of them is INR 6,000. Rates are based on single or double occupancy per room per night and include complimentary breakfast. One extra person can be accommodated for an additional charge of Rs.1500 only. We have a driver’s dormitory which can be availed by paying Rs. 700 for each of them. Rates do not include GST or Goods and Services Taxes. The above tariff may not be valid in festive days, New Year & long weekends. We reserve the right to change the tariff as per requirement. So visitors are requested to check the current tariff before making reservation.

You can. But it depends on the nature and timing of the event.

Unfortunately, no. But Choupahari is a 2-step walk-up only building except for one room on the upper floor. We promise the remaining three rooms and other constructions will make up for it. If you would like someone from us to help you walk your bags up/down the stairs, give us a shout.

Considering that we are in the midst of a village, it may or may not be a problem. If you give us enough time to prepare ourselves, we will definitely give it a honest try to serve you with a well-prepared restricted diet.

We generally do not offer any room service as the food has a long way to travel from our kitchen. Also, being a jungle HOME-STAY resort we are extra cautious while maintaining hygiene and cleanliness in our property. In the case of older adults and people with chronic disabilities of all ages, we have a flexible support system and our charges for room service are 20% extra on food, snacks and cold drinks. Please note : we don’t serve alcohol anywhere in the property.

We have a driver’s dormitory which can be availed by paying Rs. 700 for each of them. Rates do not include 28% GST or Goods and Services Taxes. The above tariff may not be valid in festive days, New Year & long weekends. We reserve the right to change the tariff as per requirement. So visitors are requested to check the current tariff before making reservation.

You can tune back to the real world anytime since we have free wifi and satellite LED TV in each of the four rooms and in some common areas.

By train
Bolpur is the railway station for Santiniketan. One can get down at Prantik station also. There are 27 direct train(s) from Kolkata to Bolpur. It is a two to three hours journey by train.

Convenient connections are 13017/13018 Gana Devta Express departing Howrah at 06:05, 3015/3016 Shantiniketan Express departing Howrah at 10:05 (this is the only train which originates/terminates in Howrah and Bolpur), 2347/2348 Sahid Rampurhat Express departing Howrah at 12 noon (and taking only 2 hours 20 min – the shortest time ), 3011/3012 Malda Inter-city Express departing Howrah at 15:25, 5657/5658 Kanchenjunga Express departing Sealdah at 06:45, 2345/2346 Saraighat Express, 215/216 Visvabharati Fast Passenger, 3071/3072 Jamalpur Express, 209/210 Darbhanga Passenger are other good trains.

For schedules check with Indian Railways . From railway station you can get our pick-up service or hire a car to get to Choupahari within 15 minutes of your arrival by train.

By Car
From Kolkata travel to Dankuni, crossing the 2nd Hoogly bridge and take the Durgapur Expressway. It is now part of NH2 (National Highway2). Else keep driving on Belghoria Expressway/NH34 until you get onto NH2. From NH2 there are two routes – one via Panagarh – Illambazar, that takes about 3.5 Hours and around 170+ kms from Kolkata, or you can take the second road through Guskara (Barddhaman) that takes about 3 hrs and is roughly 145 kms from Kolkata. Once you reach Bonovilla bus stop immediately after crossing the Choupahari forest, take a right turn to reach us. It may take you 2 minutes from the bus stop.

By bus
Santiniketan is well connected by buses from all around. From Kolkata, if you want to go by bus, then you have to take Kolkata-Asansol bus or Kolkata-Suri bus. For Asansol bound bus you have to get down near Panagarh and for Suri bound bus you have to get down near Ilambazar and for both cases you have to catch another bus for Santiniketan to get down at Bonovilla bus stop. It is a 10 minutes’ walk from there to get to Choupahari boutique resort.

We have private in-house free car parking spaces available for each of our four rooms. There is also some free street parking nearby.

Please strive to be on-time as check-in is from 12:30 PM.-1:30 PM daily. We understand that things come up, so if you are running, please let us know. Without prior intimation, rooms not occupied by 1:30 PM will be considered a no-show. Early check-in and late check-out are subject to room availability on the relevant day and a fee must be confirmed with the front office staff.

If you cancel your booking 15 days or more before arrival, you will get full refund of your deposit amount minus a service and cancellation fee of INR 2000. Cancellations must be made or confirmed in writing to be considered valid. Due to limited number of rooms, we request that you cancel at least 15 days before your scheduled visit. This gives us the opportunity to fill the rooms.

If you cancel 14 to 8 days before arrival, 40% of the advance deposit will be refunded. You may opt for not taking any refund, and use this credit towards any future booking at Choupahari.

But if your cancellation is 7 days or fewer before arrival, or if you fail to check-in (“no-show”), or leave before your due departure date, no refund will be made and you will lose the full advance payment. Only if we get a replacement booking for the same number of rooms and for the same duration, would we refund the full amount minus a service and  cancellation fee of INR 2000, irrespective of the timing of cancellation.  In case we get a partial substitute booking, partial refund will be done after proportionate and applicable deduction. The refund will be made to the account through which you had made the payment.

In the unlikely event that we are forced to cancel your booking we will attempt to offer you alternative accommodation. If suitable accommodation is not available (or unacceptable to you), we will promptly refund all monies paid and confirm that you will not be liable for any further payments to Choupahari. Our liability will not extend beyond this refund.

Check-in: 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM daily
Check-out: 11:30 AM

Each guest must produce a valid passport, Aadhar Card or a voter ID upon check-in. Please strive to be on-time; if you are running late, please let us know as rooms not occupied by 1:30 p.m. will be considered a no-show. Early check-in and late check-out are subject to room availability on the relevant day, a fee of Rs. 2000 and must be confirmed with the front office staff.

Smoking is not permitted in all enclosed areas within the facility and inside the rooms without exception. If one wishes to smoke, the advice is to do so outside and away from the porch area. If the guest doesn’t comply, he or she might be asked to leave and the booking might stand cancelled without refund. We may also charge a sum equivalent to one night’s stay.

Sorry. Pets are not allowed at Choupahari. Please leave your furry friends at home!

We do not accept any liability for damage, theft to your property or injury to you (or other members of your party) whilst on our premises unless caused by our negligence.

We are sure that you will take care whilst you stay with us, and we acknowledge that accidents sometimes happen. We do however reserve the right to charge for any damage or breakages. Guest will be notified of costs in writing as soon as the damage is discovered after guest’s departure. We also reserve the right to charge further sums if we are unable to re-let the room as a consequence of the damage.

Any dispute will be governed by the non-exclusive Indian law and will be settled either in Bolpur or Kolkata jurisdiction of the court.

You can get a bicycle from us and roam around in the village. If you want to see some of the interesting spots and places in and around Santiniketan, you may hire a car or a toto (battery operated auto). Cycle rickshaws sometimes are also a convenient mode of transportation.

Tagore’s ashrama, Closed on Wednesdays. One has to walk through the area. The first building in the area was a guest house built in 1863 by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore. It was named Santiniketan and thereafter the entire place acquired that name. Hermitage created with a Trust Deed in 1888 by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore. The area has several buildings associated with the Tagores – Santiniketan building, Nutan Bari, Dehali etc. School classes and major functions are held in the Amra Kunja(mango grove). Some of the Visva Bharati institutions are also located here. Tourists are not allowed to stray into areas where outdoor classes are held as they disturb studies. Some distance away on the eastern side is a small hillock with a large banyan tree. It was a favourite of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore.

Chhatimtala, Prayer place (under the “Chhatim” tree) of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore.

Brahma Mandir, Upasana Griha, constructed in 1891.

Sculptures and Frescos, Look out for sculptures and frescoes of Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij and Binode Bihari Mukherjee, particularly around Kala Bhavana. Kalo Bari beside Sangeet Bhavana is interesting.

Uttarayan complex, Closed on Wednesdays. The complex has several buildings associated with Tagore’s memory – Udayan, Konark, Shyamali (mud hut), Punascha and Udichi. The complex has well-laid out gardens. Combined entry fee for Uttarayan complex and Rabindra Bhaban Museum is Rs 5. Cameras and hand bags not allowed.

Rabindra Bhaban Museum, Open on working days from 10:30-16:30. Open on Sundays. Closed on Wednesadys. The house is called Bichitra. Constructed in Tagore’s birth centenary year 1961. There are original manuscripts, letters, documents, medals (including Nobel Prize medallion), plaques, certificates, paintings, photographs etc. During Poush Mela the place is over-crowded and queues for entry are long.

Khoai Mela, The mela starts from around 15:00 and goes on till about 17:30-18:00 only on Saturdays and is worth visiting.
Amar Kutir, Many handicrafts like cloth, leather, batiks, hand-loomed fabrics and similar available.
Kopai river , Known as Amader chhoto nodi in many of Tagore’s poems, particularly those for children.

Shilpa Gram. Shilpa Gram is close to the Ballavpur deer sanctuary. It is designed very nicely and showcases tranditional handicrafts of eastern region (including Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Manipur, Andaman, Jharkhand etc). Each state is represented by a traditional house which has collection of paintings, art crafts etc. The place is maintained neatly and has good collection of cultural elements.

Prakriti Bhavan, Located in the Ballavpur area of Santiniketan, it is India’s one and only Nature Art museum with an impressive indoor display of natural sculptures in driftwood, dry wood and a sprawling open air garden of natural rock sculptures. Set in the most picturesque part of Santiniketan it is an aesthetic manifestation of the legacy of Tagore’s Santiniketan in linking man with nature through Art, music and poetry.

Cheena Bhavana, the China study centre.
Hindi Bhavana, Hindi study centre.
Nippon Bhavana, for Indo-Japanese studies.
Kala Bhavana, College of fine arts and crafts, has a museum exhibiting sculptures, frescoes and murals and a library of art books.
Patha Bhavana, Now a secondary school, is of particular interest, being an example of the traditional Brahmacharya Ashram.
Sangeet Bhavana, College of music and dance.
Vidya Bhavana, College of humanities.
Siksha Bhavana, College of science.
Vinaya Bhavana, Teacher’s training college.
Siksha Satra, Now a secondary school.

Sriniketan Campus, This campus has two Bhabans. When Rabindranath started this Univertsity,he had two visions in his mind – one is spread of education and another is rural reconstruction. Sriniketan is campus for Rural Reconstruction. It offers B.Sc., M.Sc in Agriculture, BSW and MSW, masters degree in rural development, anthropology and CIT.

Visiting Hours, Winter: 14:00-16:30 hours. Summer: 14:30-17:30. During vacations: 07:30-11:00.

Those who are knowledgeable about Rabindranath Tagore, his contribution to Bengali culture and his activities can enjoy a visit to Santiniketan thoroughly. Guides are generally available outside Uttarayan Complex/Rabindra Bhaban, otherwise one has to follow the crowd. Semi-official guides charge Rs 300 for showing around Santiniketan and Rs 500 for the entire area including Sriniketan and Amar Kutir. They are knowledgeable and explain things well. They are particulalrly helpful in identifying sculptures and frescoes.

Poush Mela, The fair is held at Santiniketan from 7th-9th Poush (December 22/23-25). Tribal sports, folk songs and dances including songs by bauls, the itinerant singers, are a part of the fair and festivities. Some sort of “bhanga mela” or broken fair, with some shops, continue till the end of December. Accommodation is heavily booked during this period. Anybody wanting to visit during his period will need to plan ahead for hotel bookings.

Maghotsav, Anniversary of Brahmo Samaj celebrated on the 11th of Magha (25th January), with prayers and songs at Chhatimtala.

Vasanta Utsav, Held to celebrate Holi (March). The students dance and sing their ways through Amrakunja, followed by open-air variety programmes. Accommodation is heavily booked during this period. Anybody wanting to visit during his period will have to plan ahead.

Rabindra Jayanti, Although the birth anniversary of Rabindranath falls on 25th Baisakh (May 8/9), the anniversary as well as the Bengali New Year (Nabo Barsho) is celebrated on the first day of the Bengali New Year (Poila Baisakh) in mid-April with songs, dances, and recitations by the students.

Briksharopana (planting of saplings) and Halakarshana (ploughing of the fields) on 22nd and 23rd Sravana (August).

Varshamangal, Festival of rains during August/September. Tagore was a poet of nature and some of his finest creations were about the rains.

Santiniketan gave the world the mystic, Sufi philosophy minded “Bauls”. These are wandering minstrels who sing on various themes, the predominant one being the connectivity of the body and the cosmos and man’s eternal quest to realize it.

The local Santhali Tribe attract audiences from far and wide for their rhythmic and mesmerizing Folk Dances and Songs. They are imaginative craftsmen and women, who make artifacts with terracotta, wood, stone, palm leaf, beads, seeds, reeds and bamboos.

But the most important significance is the fact that Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate, chose Santiniketan and created his global university, Visva-Bharati and penned most of his classics here. Tagore was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. His compositions were chosen by multiple South Asian nations for their national anthems: India, Bangladesh, and possibly even Sri Lanka. He was a poet, writer, painter, composer, educator, philanthropist, and political activist.

Many ask : why do visitors flock to see Santiniketan ? The answer lies in the arts and the devotion people have for Tagore, especially his songs and drama, and how it has shaped Bengali language, literature and culture.

Choupahari is always interested in considering new relationships that align with our business objectives. People/organisations interested in partnering with Choupahari are invited to Contact Us

If you are interested to work for Choupahari issues of personality, attitude and overall profile come into play. Write to us at hello@choupahari.com

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