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8 Places to Visit During Durga Puja in West Bengal

By Anusha

Nearly a year of preparation and planning goes into the flawless execution of the grand Durga Puja festivities in West Bengal. What started as a small party during the colonial times, the festival has grown in size and fervour to the all-encompassing event it is today. The Durga Puja not just signifies religious and spiritual connections, but also is a cultural extravaganza, to which people return to every year from all parts of the world. It is a festival of celebration, of reunions, of heritage, art, female empowerment and delicious food.

The festival that is celebrated during the ten days of Navaratri are especially significant in West Bengal from the day six. The most beautiful aspect for a traveller visiting the region during this time of the year are the beautiful and intricately constructed pandals. The various streets and localities strive to oust the other with their pandal. Each is based on a theme, some traditional, others modern, but all of them are gorgeous! The festival also supports artisans in a big way by providing employment for hundreds of artists involved in the creation of idols, sets, pandals and lighting. Here is a look at some key places to visit in West Bengal to experience the essence of Durga Puja.

1. Kolkata

Even the insomniacs won't manage to see it all! The laidback and charming city of Kolkata goes into a frenzy as the festivities of Durga Puja nears. The pandals are set up, the sweet makers have already started selling custom orders, the idols shine in all their finery and it is as if the entire city is a work of art, waiting for appreciation and adulation. The city alone sees over 2,000 pandals set across the different streets, localities and communities. Based on various themes, they are a feast for the senses, both during the day and night. Yummy food is always ready to replenish the starved, but you can't resist the endless walks through the night as you are tempted to explore one pandal after another! Kolkata is definitely an important place to visit in West Bengal during Durga Puja.

Photo Courtesy: Debarup Mukherjee

2. Durgapur

Among the places to visit in West Bengal during Durga Puja is Durgapur located at a distance of 160 km from Kolkata. The city also readies itself for the gaiety of Durga Puja with pandals and idols that are transported from Kumarthuli. The surrounding small villages such as Kuldiha and Gopalpur are also interesting visits for their Durga and Kali pujas. The region is also popular for hosting cultural shows including plays, based on mythology. The significance of each day as per mythology is enacted in a play.

Photo Courtesy: Matthias Rosenkranz

3. Howrah

In Howrah, you can observe the importance paid to rituals and pujas at each pandal by each family. Located on the banks of Hoogli River, it is considered to be the twin city of Kolkata. The beautiful Howrah and Vidyasagar Setu bridges that connect the two cities are decorated with lights and make for a vivid journey. A feast for the senses awaits at the pandals and eating joints of Howrah as well and is a great travel experience during this time of the year.

Photo Courtesy: Amarnath

4. Birbhum

The Birbhum district in West Bengal is removed from the other regions of the state with a unique culture and tradition of its own. The people living in the fertile farmlands have agriculture as the mainstay occupation. The district and its villages represent an interesting travel opportunity during the time of Durga Puja. Folk culture is pre-dominant here, and you can enjoy the traditional rituals and procedures of Durga Puja that are far removed from the commercialised show taking place in the cities.

Photo Courtesy: Debarup Mukherjee

5. Bankura

The district of Bankura in West Bengal has steadily been gaining prominence for tourism related activities in the region. The rich culture and heritage of the region is showcased in the paintings, music, dance and other forms of art that emerge from Bankura. The rich heritage is also reflected in the festivities of Durga Puja. Beautiful pandals vie for the attention of the audience and exquisite bamboo crafts adorn the entire region during the festival.

Photo Courtesy: Subharnab Majumdar

6. Siliguri

The city of Siliguri in West Bengal is another place to visit as it comes alive with much gaiety during the festive occassion of Durga Puja. Hundreds of pandals decorate the various parts of the city in colourful sights and lights. Some of the committees that hold the Durga Puja are considered to be over 150 years old and attract large gatherings to their pandals.

Photo Courtesy: Debarup Mukherjee

7. Cooch Behar

Among the oldest regions in West Bengal to hold the Durga Puja, Cooch Behar is popular for the large idol of Durga. Made from clay, the large idol comprises of Durga along with the demon Mahishasura. The idol of Durga is painted in vermilion red. The interesting feature behind the worship at this temple is the human sacrifice ritual that was performed here in the past. However, the practise is no longer in use, and only the ritualistic procedure of offering few drops of blood is followed now. Animal sacrifice continues to be prevalent.

Photo Courtesy: Baishampayan Ghose

8. Chanduli

Among the oldest Durga Pujas that are conducted in West Bengal is the place of Chanduli, with a history of over 350 years. The Devi Durga idol worshipped here has only two hands as opposed to the usual display of ten hands. Religious fervour is widely apparent as the the festival of Durga Puja approaches. Rituals and traditions are followed as per age-old customs.

Craftsmanship on Display

Photo Courtesy: Matthias Rosenkranz

Read more about: west bengal kolkata durga puja
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