Festivals are an integral part of Indian culture. Personally, I hate the commercialization of festivals that have diluted the essence of cultural and social integration. However, a majority chunk of the population loves to enjoy the festival on a grand scale. While Maharashtra celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi on a grand scale, Kolkata is passionate about Durgotsava. The grandeur of various Durga puja pandals in Kolkata clearly indicates its love for this festival.Durga Puja is celebrated across India with the same enthusiasm and faith, Kolkata races ahead in terms of competition with some captivating decorations and innovative themes that attract thousands of visitors from all over the country and even internationally. With more than thousand small and big Durga puja pandals here it is virtually impossible to list them all here and visit them all in the limited time of nine days. So, here we take a look at the top 5 Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata that you should not miss out.
Bagbazaar Sarbojanin Durgotsav
Also spelt as Baghbazaar, Bagbazaar is one of the must visit pandals in Kolkata. It offers a window into the rich Bengali culture and tradition. This Durga puja pandal remains one of the oldest Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata. It was organized by the people of the city and not inside a Zamindar’s house. The pandal was formed by the people that would contribute money until it shaped into a proper organization.
While most Durga Puja pandals are keen on bringing some of the bigger idols of Goddess Durga, Baghbazaar Sarbojanin Durgotsav and Exhibition group focuses on culture and tradition being the oldest pandal in the city. The pandal also comes up with various events that emphasize and display the rich Bengali culture, dance and art and craft that has been diminishing in the technology age. The pandal is located in North Kolkata near Bagbazaar Launch Ghat and Bagbazaar Kolkata Circular Railway Station. If you are using Metro railway you can get down at Shayambazar and you are just a couple of minutes away from this Durga Puja pandal.
College Square Sarbojanin Durgotsav
With more than 50 years of celebrations, College Square Sarbojanin Durgotsav has managed to be among the top Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata since the Independence of India. If you like grand scale decorations and themes this is the place to be. College Square has been attracting devotees and visitors here especially during night time for all the lights, colour and grandeur that is visible here during the Durga Puja days.
College Square attracts a lot of visitors especially after evening so if you don’t want all the commotion and crowd you can visit it during the day time when the crowd factor is relatively low. The pandal committee also organizes various campaigns during the festival like blood donation camp, educational help for poor and needy children, and distribution of medicine for the needy. To get here you can use Boubazaar Crossing, Shyambazar or Hatibagan. If you are using Metro railway you can get down at Mahatma Gandhi Road or Central Metro.
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
With more than 75 years of heritage, Badamtala Ashar Sangha has gradually made a place in the hearts of many Bengalis that flock here every year to take a look at the Goddess Durga idol. Although they are not grand, sophisticated and fancy they still remain one of the biggest attractions that you just can’t afford to miss during Durga Puja ceremonies in the city.
The group believes that they have been able to make a place in the hearts of millions of devotees and visitors with the honesty, dedication and sincere efforts that they put up to bring forward the culture and tradition of West Bengal. The pandal has also won many awards and local recognition that makes it one of the top pandals in Kolkata.
The pandal also organizes many other events like blood donation camp and sports events. This pandal is located in South Kolkata in Kalighat. It is right next to Kalighat Metro railway station and Rash Bihari Avenue. Hence, it is easier to locate.
Suruchi Sangha Durga Puja Club
Established in 1952, Suruchi Sangha has always been ahead in supporting sports and cultural activities across the city. While Suruchi Sangha has always concentrated on social messages and themes related to public awareness on various vices in the city, it actually got the fame only in 2003 when the pandal bagged the best-decorated pandal in Kolkata.
It won the same award again in 2009 with some exquisite artwork that can dazzle your mind. In 2012, Suruchi Sangha focused on Sea Pollution in Goa addressing other environmental problems in Goa. The pandal attracted a sea of crowd eagerly waiting outside to view it in real.
The pandal concentrates on various social activities that happen here for all nine days. Located near New Alipore close to Nalini Rajan Avenue this pandal is in South Kolkata. If you are using the Metro get down at Majherhat or Kalighat whichever is closer to your destination.
Ekdalia Evergreen Durga Pujo Club
Although this one is the last on my list, I kept it to end my blog post in style. Ekdalia Evergreen Durga Pujo is a crowd-puller so you might see long serpentine queues that never end. So, what makes Ekdalia Evergreen Durga Pujo so popular? This pandal certainly is passionate about the festival and it reflects in the kind of artistry work they do.
Every year, Ekdalia Evergreen Club erects replicas of some of the popular temples across India. To make it better they use lighting to enhance the beauty of the hard work that is on display. The group also comes up with interesting Goddess Durga idols that attract devotees from all over West Bengal. So, when you are in Kolkata make sure that you do not miss out these pandals. They offer you a glimpse into the culture, tradition and the zest that surrounds West Bengal and particularly in Kolkata.
There are many other Goddess Durga Puja pandals that I might have missed out here. However, that does not mean they are of lesser significance. Goddess Durga epitomizes power and creation and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The pandals highlight the message of peace and harmony in the society.
Which are your favourite Durga puja pandals in Kolkata?