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Home > Reference > Education > Indian Universities > Universities in West Bengal > Visva-Bharati University
Visva-Bharati University, Indian University, Birbhum
Visva Bharati is a recognized central university, established by Rabindranath Tagore in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.

Visva-Bharati is a campus in a rural setting in the district of Birbhum, which is about 160 km by road from Kolkata. The history of the university dates back to 1863 when Maharshi Debendranath Tagore established an ashram and called it Brahmacharya Ashram in this locality. Later this ashram was renamed as Brahmacharya Vidyalaya and is now known as chatim tala at the heart of Shantiniketan. Visva-Bharati University was declared to be a central university and an institution of national importance by an act of Parliament in May 1951.

Visva-Bharati University, Indian University Rabindranath Tagore the son of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, established Visva-Bharati University. The idea is to encourage people from all walks of life to the spot and meditate. In 1901 Rabindranath Tagore established the first co-educational school inside the premises of the ashram called Patha Bhavana. Tagore used to organize the Hindu Mela in Shantiniketan, which became a centre of nationalist activity during the beginning of the twentieth century.

In 1921 Tagore started the Visva-Bharati University with the prize money of the Nobel Prize he received for the publication of his book of poems entitled Gitanjali in 1913. The university also became a cultural centre of Brahmo learning in this period. The institution was granted its actual university status 1951. Rathindranath Tagore became the first upacharya of the university. Indira Devi Chaudhurani was another member of the Tagore family who performed the role of upacharya.

Rabindranath Tagore The high officials of the Visva-Bharati University include the acharya (chancellor), the upacharya (vice chancellor) and paridarshaka (visitor). Visva-Bharati has the Governor of West Bengal as the Pradhana (Rector) and the President of India as the Paridarsaka (Visitor). The President of India appoints the Upacharya (Vice-chancellor) and the Acharya (Chancellor) of the University.

The Visva-Bharati University has several institutes and colleges under its supervision for undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral studies. Vidya Bhavana is the Institute of Humanities, Shiksha Bhavana is the Institute of Sciences, Palli-Shiksha Bhavana happens to be the Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Binay Bhavana is the Institute of Education. However, Visva-Bharati University is particularly known for the Kala Bhavana or Institute of Fine Arts. It has a museum under its management, which is called Rabindra Bhavana in the Uttarayan complex, which is the residence of Rabindranath Tagore.

Patha Bhavana, Shiksha Satra (two elementary and secondary schools) and Uttar Shiksha Sadana (a higher secondary school) are the four schools under the supervision of Visva-Bharati University. They confer certificates of the university. Apart from these educational segments, Visva-Bharati University also has Bengal Institute of technology and Management (BITM,Santiniketan), IIIT Kolkata associated with it. Thousands of national and international students come in Visva-Bharati University to acquire various educational degrees. The children studying in lower classes enjoy learning their lessons under the shadow of the trees, which is a unique tradition in Shantiniketan. Rabindranath Tagore felt it was necessary that an affinity should be built between the students` minds and the flora and fauna of the `asrama`.

The celebration of seasons was always a striking feature in the `asrama`. These festivals came to be associated with the special culture of this institution and thus introduced traditional Indian forms and rituals by organizing these festivals. The university has ethnic decorations in its heritage locations like the libraries, administrative offices with flowers, `alpana` and distinctive green handloom curtains.

The nearest railway station from Visva-Bharati University is Bolpur (Shantiniketan) on the Eastern Railway and the air terminal is Kolkata Airport. The University campus at Shantiniketan is about 3 km from the railway station can be reached within two hours from Kolkata by train. The University has two campuses, one at Shantiniketan and the other at Sriniketan, which lies about 3 km from Shantiniketan. The institutional buildings and departments are distributed among them. Other than being a reputable university and educational institution, Visva-Bharati University is also a well-known tourist spot in West Bengal.

Famous alumni, academics and affiliates of Visva-Bharati University
Syed Mujtaba Ali - Novelist and litterateur Gayatri Devi - Maharani of Jaipur Vincenc Lesny - Indologist and Iranian studies scholar Brajendra Nath Seal - Philosopher
Charles Freer Andrews - Anglican priest and lecturer - philanthropist Savitri Devi - Actress Sylvain Levi - Oriental scholar Amartya Sen - Economist
Dr Probodh Chandra Bagchi - First Vice Chancellor of the university to be appointed from outside the Tagore family Leonard Knight Elmherst - Agricultural educationist Suchitra Mitra - Singer Tan Yun-Shan - Confucian scholar
Ramkinkar Baij - Sculptor and painter Indira Gandhi - Former Prime Minister of India Benode Behari Mukherjee - Painter and sculptor Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh - Artist
Kanika Bandyopadhyay - Singer Gourgopal Ghosh - Mohan Bagan football player Guru Kelu Nair - Kathakali maestro K.G. Subramanyan - Painter and theoretician
Prabhatmohan Bandyopadhyaya - Painter - poet - and social activist Santidev Ghosh - Author - singer and dancer William Winstanley Pearson - Philanthropist; translator of Tagore`s work Abanindranath Tagore - Painter and children`s writer
Nandalal Bose - Artist Somnath Hore - Artist - printmaker & sculptor Rajat Kanta Ray - Historian Giuseppe Tucci - Italian scholar
Sudhi Ranjan Das - Author and ex-Chief Justice of India Dinkar Kaushik - Artist Satyajit Ray - Filmmaker and writer Moriz Winternitz - German professor of Indian philology and ethnology
Ashin Dasgupta - Historian Stella Kramrisch - Art historian Bhimrao Hasurkar Sastri - Musician Sujit.K.Basu - Scientists & Management Administrator - Ex-Vice Chancellor.

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Indian Institute of Technology    
(Last Updated on : 31/12/2008)
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