Today we drove on the Kolkata – Durgapur highway and turned off at Burdwan to get to Shantiniketan. We stayed at Rare Earth Farms and Homestead. This building, built with locally available materials, also used products made by the Santhal Tribe in Bautijole village where the resort is located.
The entire construction is done using age old methods that Santhals still use to build their homes.
Destination: Shantiniketan, in West Bengal
Distance Covered: 164 kms
The Rare Earth Home Stay is the most exotic ethnic place we stayed on our drive. It employs the Santhals from Boutijole village, which the owners of the resort have adopted. We spent much of our time at Boutijole Village interacting, discussing and interviewing the villagers.
We also had the rice wine made by Santhals and had cooked rats as snacks! The Santhals have always been in the forefront of conservation and we saw bird houses made of baked earthen pots hanging in all the houses.
Their houses are made of mud walls and thatched roofs, and most houses have at least two floors. Children are encouraged to go to school and the local Viswabharathi University runs special evening classes in the village for all the children in addition to the regular school.
We took many photographs of the daily life in a Santhal village. The Santhals are very happy, self sufficient and quite satisfied with their lives. Their biggest concerns revolve around health issues and the expenses that come along with them.
Chatting with them, we also learnt of their livelihood challenges, and efficacy of the self help groups of women in the villages.
You can read more about the Santhals on Wikipedia, here.