It’s Thursday. I can smell the weekend from here.
Every alternate month there is something which bites me – the travel bug.
When August came, Sassy wanted to visit her aunt in Siuri, a small town in Birbhum around 250 kms from Kolkata.
So when opportunity came knocking at my door, who am I to ignore?
I quickly checked and found that we could reach Shantiniketan on a Friday night, stay there for 2 nights, make an afternoon trip to Siuri and back and then return to Kolkata on Sunday evening.
So some peace and more food and a drive – sounds awesome? So let’s start with a teaser pic!
Where to stay?
Since my first trip to Shantiniketan in 2014, I have been staying at only one place there – Chhuti Holiday Resort. Having 24 cottages, this place is tucked in a small lane, around 150 mts from the main road, yet away from all the hustle and bustle. Squeaky clean, very homely atmosphere, I will have to think really hard to find something which needs to be improved. Yes, it’s that good and not to forget the restaurant serves excellent food as well. And they have their own car parking lot as well.
How to book
You can book online at www.chhutiresort.com and avail the off season discount of 30% on room rent up to 30th September using promo-code: CHR26Y
The Foodie Journey & where to eat
Let me put a THANKS outright at the beginning – this time I trusted the blog of Mr. Foodka i.e. Indrajit Lahiri on his recent visit to Shantiniketan and his recommendations were spot on!
Aarhani – the Home-chef experience
Let me begin with the highlight of the trip – Aarhani is a impeccably maintained place (let’s not put it as a restaurant) run by a home chef couple near Prantik. They accept only pre-orders and you will have to call them up at Rini madam (+919641962667) and Dibyangshu sir (+919836611383) . Location: https:/https://goo.gl/maps/VvKrwWKbYammVNQh8
Till then, I was completely inexperienced in this professional home-chef thing. It has rustic mud house serving as dinning room and also an open area seating as well. So what did we have? Fine rice, daal, aloo bhaja with posto, bandhakopir torkari, aamer chutney and Kashmiri mutton. The star of the lunch was the mutton, perfectly cooked, wasn’t hot which helped Rishaan asking for more mutton and the unique thing being it was so full of flavors! 3 of us had gorged into whatever was there and I won’t be too wrong to say this lunch was priceless.
I paid INR 750/- for that lunch for 3. Throughout those couple of hours, we came to know that the gentleman himself carefully buys each ingredient and then cooks himself – very humble as I experienced. So any of you visiting this place, make some time and have some patience to experience this magic of Aarhani kitchen!
The Restaurant – Chhuti Resort
We had two courses for over 2 days here and let me be frank – the chef personally checks on each time, at the start and at the end of the meal! Yes, it does happen. Full marks to them. How’s the food quality?We had complimentary breakfast included and we had aloo paratha to bread toast to puri sabji. They kept on asking if we wanted anything more! Pretty nice taking into consideration that they balance it out so that small kids can also enjoy the same food as adults.
Here we had a plate of Pabda jhal and a plate of chicken curry to go with rice, jhirijhiri aloo bhaja and some tomato chutney and all of this was less than INR 850/-. The pabda was a large one but fresh and the jhal was also little mellowed – it worked for Rishaan. The chicken curry was a pretty standard fare and with gorom bhat, it tasted fine!
Kasahara – the cafe
The other place which was strongly recommended by our Aarhini lunch partner, Kaushik and his family, was the cold coffee at Kasahara cafe.
What’s that? So there is a cafe or canteen opposite to Sangeet Bhavan, named after Mr. Kimtaro Kasahara who came to Shantiniketan in the early 20th century being inspired by the Bard and stayed back.
Now this cafe mostly serves meals and snacks and seemed to be a favorite amongst the students and backpackers. But did we have there? A cup of cold coffee.
It was Sunday afternoon and we were on our way back to Kolkata, being pressed to avoid the infamous traffic jam at Dankuni.
But both of us wanted to taste the coffee. So after having traveled more than a kilometer from Shantiniketan, we turned back and needless to say, we enjoyed it.
It was a no frills coffee and the thick froth and the laid-back atmosphere did wonders! Pocket pinch is negligible, the medium cup was around 30 bucks.
But the aftertaste was something which lingered throughout our return journey.
What else did we do?
Walk around the “Shonibarer Hat”
This is a customary visit to this “one of a kind” ensemble of music, fashion and food at one place. Though now it’s lot organized, still the charm is there! While Sassy shopped around, me and Rishaan watched the Bauls sing and looking at the clay models.
A Deer park in Shantiniketan!
You must be thinking, amidst all this how did my 4 year old mini monkey enjoy? So that best thing for him was to discover a deer park, right in the middle of Shantiniketan! Different breeds of deer numbering to more than 100, it was the most engaging thing for a 4 year old kid.
So it was a good weekend – the peace of mind was there, excellent food complimented it, met with family. Shouldn’t be any more greedy!
But that’s us here at Honuman Shongothon – breaking the pattern which the world tries to put us in!
Hope you like this travelogue – do let us know your feedback in the comments here or in Facebook or Instagram.
Till then – Alvida…