- Location: Kolkata, West Bengal
- Time to Visit: Months of September and October
- How to Reach: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport connects Kolkata with other South East Asia. There are two major railway stations in Kolkata – Howrah and Sealdah. Apart from air and rail access, there are numerous bus options between Kolkata and Bangladesh.
- Nearest International Airport: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport
- Nearest railway station: Howrah Station, Sealdah Station
The best time to experience the splendor of Kolkata is during Durga Puja when the entire city transforms into a fairyland of light and music. Going from one Puja extravaganza to another, organized by various local committees who try to outdo one another in pomp and grandeur, is an unbelievable experience. But, there is another part to the festival that you should never miss. Durga Puja was originally a domestic festival, and some of the old royal houses still hold the celebrations in the traditional way. Its solemnity, quiet grandeur and respect for tradition are a contrast to the usually overwhelmingly opulent Pujas that are held on the Kolkata streets. Go from one royal house to another, particularly during the daytime, and experience Durga Puja with a difference. Which are the best houses to visit? Look out for local knowledge. At night, hit the streets. The city of Kolkata becomes a world in microcosm for nearly a week in mid-autumn. The Versailles Palace rubs shoulders with a tribal cottage from the Nepal mountains, while an ancient temple, complete with carvings and sculptures, look over the entire scene, they hardly look like what they really are – constructions in clothes and bamboos. The beautiful pandals (temporary cloth constructions that house the idol of the worshipped deity), stylized idols, and equally mind-blowing lights bring thousands out on the city streets during the festival of Durga Puja in Kolkata. It is one festival you need to see to believe. After all, it is not every day that you find yourself in the middle of a thick crowd and traffic jams at two o clock in the morning!
Durga Puja, the greatest festival of the Bengali community, ranks among the popular festivals in India. The four day festival of Durga Puja, devoted to the worship of Goddess Durga, is celebrated with great grandeur in West Bengal and other parts of eastern India. Enormous fanfare and festivities take place during the Durga Puja, Kolkata celebrations. People of all ages and every section, wearing new clothes, go for pandal hopping.
The fragrance of Shiuli declares the advent of this grand festival. The beginning is marked with Mahalaya, takes place seven days before the main festival. The festival comprises Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami and Maha Nabami. The last day of the festival, known as Bijoya Dashami, is the day of exchanging greetings. The festival commemorates the eternal victory of good over evil. Durga Puja, Kolkata is not just a mere occasion for sharing blissful moments, but has a lot of religious significance as well. Durga Puja, the most happening festival of the Bengalis, recollects the power of female Shakti symbolized by the Goddess Durga who kills asura to re-establish peace and sanctity on earth again.
When the time of Durga Puja celebrations comes closer, each and every locality of Kolkata starts making some sort of special arrangements. The yearly visit of the goddess is believed to bring happiness to the people. And to celebrate the occasion, all offices, educational institutions and business organizations remain closed. The grand puja sale also takes place during this period. Shopping malls and markets offer heavy discounts and rebates on a wide range of items. Traditional Bengali recipes and other dishes are also cooked during the festival. A number of activities like folk music and dance performances are organized to entertain the people.
There are plenty of hotels in Kolkata, and accommodation is never a problem here. There are five star luxury hotels like , as well a number of budget hotels. You must also not miss out on an opportunity to miss out on the local delicacies, particularly the famous sweet dishes and the amazing street food sold by vendors around the pandals.
Related Links :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3OZlfrmmBI&feature=related: Check out some of the best pandals and idols in this comprehensive clipping that captures the spirit of Durga Puja in Kolkata. This is the first of a two part video series on the festival. Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNcH6T5xVqo: Check out this first hand video of the Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata. You will get a taste of the splendor of the celebrations in this short clip.