Updated: Mar 23
Discover stunning Durga Pujas from Kolkata’s suburban flank with our travel expert Reetwika Banerjee
Over the years, Durga Puja has become one of the craziest festivals of the East Indian belt in which Hindu worshippers do worship Durga murti(idol). Tremendous efforts are made for Durga Puja celebration. The touch of commercialization and political backings has evolved a handful of influential Puja committees in Kolkata who pose neck-to-neck competition to each another in terms of budget, sponsorship, celebrity endorsements, overall theme, pandal decoration, lighting, idol creativity, idol beautification, cultural programs and what not! Lots of marketing campaigns are launched by these clubs months before the Puja which in turn give rise to millions of surrogate advertising by others. However, amongst all this, even the Kolkata suburban circuit too has not fallen behind. Durga Pujas in Kolkata suburbs are conducted in a homely manner , i.e. planned and attended mostly by nearby residents of the area .
A theme based pandal
A record maker
A traditional idol
A creative theme idol
This year, basis a warm invitation from Halo Heritage, I planned to spend my Puja days in the historic Hooghly district (about 40 kilometers north of Kolkata), the first European settlement in Bengal which also houses the first municipality of Suba Bangla (Uttarpara Kotrung Municipality). It can be easily reached in an hour’s drive through Belghoria Expressway from Kolkata Airport or by local train from Howrah (main line). Converse shoes are best for long walks.
[Note: Between 1500 to 1900 A.D., ‘Suba Bangla’ also known as ‘Mughal Bengal’ was the largest subdivision of Bengal Sultanate in the entire Eastern India which included present day West Bengal and Bangladesh.]
Balaka Sarbojonin Durgotsab
(Theme: Women Empowerment)
(Theme: Bhooter Raja Dilo Bor)
(Theme: Heritage Family Puja)
Balagarh Nabin Sangha
(Theme: Go green)
Vivekananda Sporting Club
(Theme: 60 feet Durga – the tallest idol of the district)
History ratifies, this Gangetic belt has preserved millennium old rich heritage even earlier to the British colonial era and Halo Heritage is doing a great work in preserving the same. Every year in collaboration with Central Durgotsav Committee, Hooghly Chuchura Municipality and Chandannagore Police Commissionerate, they conduct a ‘Sharod Samman’ contest and honour top three Pujas of the district for Best Pandal Decoration and Best Idol, each from high budget and medium budget categories. Since the pandals are crowded it is advised to carry camera cases to protect cameras from scratches and theft.
(Theme: Gajraj Temple of Rajasthan)
(Theme: Som Family’s Temple)
3 no gate
After visiting so many beautiful pandals, I concluded that Durga Pujas in Kolkata suburbs are no less than the big budget Durga Pujas in south Kolkata.To be honest, I never expected to discover so many spectacular Durga Pujas on the western bank of Hooghly River. Without queuing for hours and walking miles, I enjoyed some of the best Durga Pujas in Kolkata suburbs . Believe me, next year do plan a visit to this side of the city to enjoy a perfect mix of traditional and marquee festive flavour. I bet, you will not be bored! Bags are a must too in order to carry all your essentials without hassle.
Keota Ujjwal Sangha
(Theme: Durga on Moon)
(Theme: Sun Temple of Konark)
(Theme: Rural Bengal)
Tripods can also be used to click pictures in a better angle.
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