History of Khoai
What hits your mind when you hear about Khoai? Is it the “রাঙা মাটির পথ” of Shantiniketan? Or the “আমাদের ছোটো নদী” poetry of Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore? But have you ever thought, what is the history behind Khoai?
In Bengali, Khoai is referred to as a specific geological formation, that can be seen mostly in Birbhum, Bankura & Burdwan districts of West Bengal and also in few parts of Jharkhand. These specific geological formations are in the form of tiny hills scattered all over the place. These are made of laterite soil, that is rich in iron oxide. It gives a natural canyon effect, which is caused by wind and water erosion on this soil. For these unusual and unique properties, Khoai is part of India’s Natural Heritage.
For most types of agricultural practices, Khoai is a very poor quality soil. But most of the time, you will see these geological projections are naturally situated adjacent to a forest area.
In Birbhum a large area of the land piece is covered by laterite. In Santiniketan also you will be able to see Khoai in Sonajhuri forest, and near Khoai Nodi. These areas are known as Khoai.
Still in some areas, if the laterite is covered with ordinary soil, it can support normal vegetation. Paddy and mangroves and many other types of vegetation can be seen growing here.
Also surprisingly, Khoai can only support Sonajhuri and Acacia trees, other than that the laterite soil does not support any other tree growths.
This uniqueness, the natural beauty, the serenity, and the calmness of the place in Bolpur & Santiniketan enthralled Kobiguru Rabindranath Tagore and after that what he did was even more heart touching. He wrote numerous everlasting poetries where Khoai became immortal and imperishable. You can also see Khoai in the paintings and creations of famous painters like Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar, and Binodbehari Mukherjee. Due to this, Khoai became part of the Cultural Heritage of Santiniketan & Visva-Bharati University.
The essence of Santiniketan Khoai Haat
About 170 km from Kolkata is situated Khoai with huge Sonajhuri trees scattered all around the place which is naturally so beautifully arranged in rows and columns to give a perfect picturesque appearance to the region.
The Saturday Khoai Haat is very famous worldwide. This haat is situated on the Sonajhuri forest covered with laterite soil. Every Saturday from 3 pm to 6 pm, this haat takes place where Santhal communities, the local artisans, and the students of Visva-Bharati sell local arts, handicraft items, and traditional Kantha-stitch, Khesh, Khadi sarees, bags, and different pieces of jewelry.
People and celebrities come from all over the world to enjoy the essence of Khoai and praise the natural beauty. Every Saturday, the Khoai becomes lively and the lifeless region comes to life; brightening up with very extravagant and beautiful colors due to the Khoai Haat. The place is filled with people, food, smiles, waves of laughter, and memories.
The local Bauls sing soulful Baul songs and earn their livelihood. The Santhal community performs their famous tribal dance in their traditional attire. To sum up, the place fills up with tranquillity.
The Famous Kopai
Coming to Khoai, one always wishes to see the “আমাদের ছোটো নদী” which is mentioned in Kobiguru’s poetry. It is the Kopai Nodi most of the time a deep dried riverbed that fills up with gushing water in the monsoon. It is situated very near to the Khoai and Sonajhuri forest.
Your comfort stay at Santiniketan
Santiniketan is the nearest town from here at a distance of about 8-9 km. You can reach Khoai in toto within half an hour from Bolpur. In Santiniketan, you can plan your stay as there are lots of holiday homes, guesthouses,s and hotels which are comfortable at reasonable costs. You can also visit the famous Visva-Bharati University, Aamrokunja, Chatimtola, Kala Bhavana, Geetanjali Theatre, Rabindra Museum, and so on. To know the exact history and importance of each place you can also hire a guide there.
It looks as if everything is intentionally created with perfect measurements, but all credit goes to mother nature and the poems of Kobiguru which made this place even more beautiful, mysterious, and peaceful. The essence of Khoai and Sonajhuri at its best!!