Two Giants of Travel Writing

Many people dream of making a break from the hum-drum day-to-day and travelling the world, to chronicle their journeys with a literary flair that echoes down the generations. There’s something decidedly romantic about the literature of great journeys, and the internet provides even more opportunity for writers to create inspirational and finely-honed travel articles. While it can sometimes seem the journals and blogs of those making their way around parts of or the whole world are not exactly literary gems, there are some truly great writers who cut their teeth by visiting other countries and cultures and journaling about their experiences. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of the big names who once set out with a suitcase in one hand and a typewriter in the other:

Pearl S Buck

Perhaps the Grande Dame of this kind of writing, Pearl Buck was a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and the Nobel Prize in 1938. Buck was born in the US but moved to China with her missionary parents when she was only three months old. Although she spent significant portions of her life in the US, she frequently returned to live in China for prolonged periods. She wrote numerous travel articles and non-fiction books usually dealing with countries in Asia.

Although much of her writing centres on the people and states of eastern Asia, her travel articles, commentary and political analysis had a wide scope and found publication in magazines and newspapers across the globe.

Ernest Hemingway

Not a man to do things by halves, Hemingway’s work was strongly rooted in what you might call participant observation. His non-fiction writing is often over-strained with desperate bravado and machismo, but he nonetheless brings some fine prose and incredible observations to the places he visited. ‘Death in the Afternoon’, first published in 1932, is the definitive English language book on the mood and atmosphere of a bull-fight in the first half of the 20th century. His time in East Africa led to the publication of the ‘Green Hills of Africa’, a book published in 1935 that detailed Hemingway’s stay in the Lake Manyara region of Tanzania.

The fiction that he produced was also heavily influenced by the places he visited – most famously of all through his experiences of working as an ambulance driver for the Italian army in the First World War, which would form the basis of his seminal ‘A Farewell to Arms’. His journalistic work also included a number of travel articles for publications across the globe.

Travel Destination: Sweden

The country of Sweden is endowed with abundant natural beauty and numerous tourist attractions. Here one will find the green fields of the south and the tundra climate of Lapland, highlands and wooded cliffs, picturesque islands and the calm coast in the Gulf of Bothnia, the great lake system, and a variety of wild animals. All of this attracts a large number of tourists to the country. And its rich history and beautiful cities give a chance to observe a unique culture. Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is located on 14 islands on Lake Malaren. It is known as one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. In the 13th century, the city served as the residence of the Swedish royal family and the capital of the then vast country of Sweden. The old part of the city is entirely located on the island Stadsholmen. No vehicles are admitted here. The most famous attractions include the Royal Palace, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, which was the coronation place of Swedish monarchs, the Antique Museum, the Palace Church, the Armoury, and the Treasury.

Several unique palaces are located in the neighboring island of Riddarholmen. Of special interest are also the Riddarholmen Church and a magnificent museum. The most remarkable tourist attractions of the islands include the Palace of Rosendal, the amusement park and the open-air museum called Skansen. The museum of wooden architecture has collected together more than 150 buildings of various age from all over Sweden.

Kungsholmen district is known primarily for its Town Hall, where the ceremony of awarding the Nobel prizes traditionally takes place. The Tower Hall is Stockholm’s emblem, and it has an excellent viewing platform from which the central part of the city can be seen.

There are more than 75 museums and a hundred of art galleries in the city. They include Gripsholm Castle, the National Museum, the Swedish National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of National History, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Royal Treasury, and many others. Drottningholm Palace is located in the suburbs of the Swedish capital. Visitors will see here the magnificent park, the Chinese pavilion, Drottningholm Court Theater, where opera and ballet performances take place every summer.

Bjork Island is a very interesting place due to the excavations of the first city in the country – Birka, which was often mentioned in medieval chronicles. Today Birka is the homeplace of a number of sites, which are under protection of UNESCO. The latter include the ancient fortress and the city walls, the graves of the Viking Age and the Viking Museum. The second largest city in Sweden is Gothenburg, famous for its wonderful beaches, pristine forests and lakes, as well as the nearby picturesque archipelago of islands. Gothenburg is the location of one of the oldest universities in Europe, widely known for its old buildings, the remnants of the fortress and it’s Art Gallery.

Kalmar is one of the oldest cities in the country. There are interesting remains of the Kalmarnaus fortress, Kalmar Castle, and the Baroque church of the 16th century.

Gotland is the most famous island in the country. In the time of the Vikings, it was a well-defended settlement and an important trading center. Visby was one of the most important European trading centers in the Middle Ages.

Santiniketan Travel Guide

Santiniketan is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, approximately 180 kilometres north of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). It was made famous by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose vision became what is now a university town (Visva-Bharati University) that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Santiniketan is also a tourist attraction because Rabindranath wrote many of his literary classics here, and his house is a place of historical importance.

Santiniketan was previously called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Dakat, a local dacoit), and owned by the Tagore family. Rabindranath’s father, Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, found it very peaceful and renamed it Santiniketan, which means abode (niketan) of peace (shanti). It was here that Rabindranath Tagore started Patha Bhavana, the school of his ideals, whose central premise was that learning in a natural environment would be more enjoyable and fruitful. After he received the Nobel Prize(1913), the school was expanded into a university. Many world famous teachers have become associated with it. Indira Gandhi, Satyajit Ray, and Amartya Sen are among its more illustrious students.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS:
There are several institutions under the Visva Bharati-Patha Bhavan, Uttar Shiksha Sadana, Siksha Bhavan, Vidya Bhavan, Vinay Bhavan, Kala Bhavan, Sangeet Bhavan, and Rabindra Bhavan, China Bhavan, Hindi Bhavan, etc. There is a museum called Vichittra and art gallery by the name of Nandan. Within the Uttarayana complex, there are five abodes of Tagore-Udayana, Konarka, Shamali, Punassha, and Udichi. Besides, Chhatimala, Upasana Mandir, and Santiniketan Bari are some of the oldest sanctums. In the year 1922, Rabindranath started a rural reconstruction center at Sriniketan, 3 km from Santiniketan. Later, some other institutions have come up here-Siksha Satra, Silpa Sadana, Palli Siksha Bhavana, and Santosh Pathshala, etc.

PLACES AROUND SANTINIKETAN:
Just 9 km away from Santiniketan, on the bank of the river Kopai is Kankalitala considered one of the sacred Saktipithas. In the Ballavpur Forest, 4 km away from Santiniketan, is the Deer Park. Nearby is Nonoor famous for its Bakranath Shiva Temple and the sulfurous hot springs. Other places nearby are Tarapith, Lavpur-Fullara, Saintha-Nandesawari, Nalhati, and Massanjore.

FAIRS & FESTIVALS:
Rabindra Janmotsav is celebrated in mid-April to mark the Bengali New Year and as well Tagore’s anniversary. Briksharopan, the festival of planting saplings, and Halakarshan, the festival of plowing the fields, are celebrated on 22nd and 23rd day of Sravana (August). Varshamangal, the festival of rains, is celebrated during August/September. Poush Utsav, a fair held at Santiniketan and Visva Bharati from 7th to 9th Poush (December), is observed to mark its foundation day. Tribal sports, dances, and folk songs, including songs by Bauls-the wandering minstrels of Bengal-are a part of the fair and festivities. Maghotsav is celebrated on the 11th of Magha (January) to mark the anniversary of Brahmo Samaj. Vasanta Utsav is held to mark Holi. The students dance and sing their ways through Amrakunja, followed by open-air variety programs.

HOW TO REACH:

BY ROAD – Regular buses ply regularly on the Calcutta-Santiniketan route covering a distance of 211 km.

BY RAIL – The nearest railway station to Santiniketan is Bolpur, which is connected to Calcutta. From Bolpur, one can simply take a cycle rickshaw to cover the 2 km distance to Santiniketan.

BY AIR – The nearest airport is at Calcutta.

WHERE TO STAY:
There are tourist lodges and tourist cottages run by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation. Visva Bharati runs a guesthouse. There are youth hostels at Bolpur and Bakeswar. There are also private hotels at Bolpur.