The origins of the university date back to 1863 when Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, the zamindar of Silaidaha in East Bengal, was given a tract of land by Babu Sitikanta Sinha, the zamindar of Raipur, which is a neighbouring village not far from Bolepur and present-day Santiniketan and set up an ashram at the spot that has now come to be called chatim tala at the heart of the town. The ashram was initially called Brahmacharya Ashram, which was later renamed Brahmacharya Vidyalaya. It was established with a view to encourage people from all walks of life to come to the spot and meditate. In 1901 his youngest son Rabindranath Tagore established a co-educational school inside the premises of the ashram. Pramatha Chaudhuri From 1901 onwards, Tagore used the ashram to organise the Hindu Mela, which soon became a centre of nationalist activity. Through the early twentieth century the zamindars of Surul (Sarkar Family), another neighbouring village, a few minutes by cycle from the Uttarayan Complex, and the zamindars of Taltore, a village just north of the university town, continued to sell their lands and other properties to the ashram and the college that was being built on this spot.