If you love ethnic trinkets, Poush Mela of Shantiniketan is just the place for you. Pick the choicest ornamental accessories and jewellery made out of terracotta, beads, and even palm leaves. Hunt for designer showpieces and room decoration items sold by the small vendors.
Shantiniketan is also known for its batik printing – done both on cloth and leather. You can also find costume jewellery sets made out of batik on leather. Held every December (during the Christmas week), the Poush Mela, which celebrated its centenary in 1994, has changed with the times. What began as a simple fair to help local impoverished craftspeople to showcase their wares to a greater audience has now turned into a full fledged urban fair. So if you want to want to see the real fair, ignore the huge kiosks selling stylised clothes and shoes, electronic goods and cell phone connections, and look for the smaller stalls or trawl the rows of artisans sitting on the ground and displaying their wares to discover exquisitely handcrafted ornaments and decorative items that come at a near throwaway price. This is where the heart of the fair lies.
Cultural presentations by local folk singers and dancers are also a highlight of the fair. There is a central stage for the participating groups to perform. Besides, there are impromptu but soulful renditions by the baul singers throughout the day. And if all the shopping and cultural extravaganza has made you hungry, look up the stalls selling telebhaja, jalebi and pithey.
How to reach: Bolpur, two kilometres ahead of Shantiniketan is the nearest town and railhead from Kolkata. By rail, Shantiniketan is 136 km from Kolkata while by road, it is 214 km away. Road conditions are not ideal and hence better avoided. Kolkata is the nearest airport.