There are literally thousands of Kolkata Durga Puja pandals but some stand out more than others, as a result of their captivating decorations. Every year they compete to outdo each other with the most elaborate and innovative themes. The pandals in north Kolkata tend to be more traditional, whereas the ones in south Kolkata are contemporary and showy.
The easiest way to participate in the celebrations is to take a Durga Puja festival tour, such as the ones organized by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (see list of tours and make online bookings here or view more information about the tours here), Calcutta Photo Tours, Walks of Kolkata, and Let's Meet Up Tours. More information abut Durga Puja, including tours, is also available on West Bengal Tourism's Durga Puja website.
Wondering where is best to stay? Try these 10 Convenient Hotels for Durga Puja in Kolkata.
01 of 10
Bagbazar is one of the oldest Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata, having been in existence for around 100 years. It's a relatively simple one with emphasis on tradition and culture, but it always attracts the crowds with its strikingly beautiful idol of Goddess Durga. An exhibition is also held on its grounds, with carnival rides and stalls.
Location: North Kolkata, along the river in Bagbazaar. Near the Bagbazar Launch Ghat and Bagbazar Kolkata Circular Railway Station. The closest Metro railway station is Shayambazar.
02 of 10
Kumartuli Park is a relatively young pandal, having been formed in 1995, but one that has become deservedly popular. It's particularly special because it takes place in the area where many of the Durga idols are handcrafted by professional clay modelers. The organizers believe in thinking outside the box when it comes to themes, so expect the unexpected!
Location: North Kolkata, along the river at Kumartuli Park, just before Bagbazar (ideally, plan to visit both pandals). The nearest railway station is the Sovabazar Metro. It's also close to Sovabazar Launch Ghat.
03 of 10
Established in 1948, College Square has a really picturesque setting beside a lake and the whole area is illuminated for the festival. Understandably, the crowd flocks to this pandal to see the sparkling lights and their reflection on the water.
Location: Central Kolkata. 53 College Street. Near Kolkata University, off MG (Mahatma Gandhi) Road. The nearest railway stations are Mahatma Gandhi Road and Central Metro.
04 of 10
Monument Architecture: Mohammad Ali Park
As its name suggests, this pandal is located in a large park. It's another famous crowd puller, with an elaborate display that showcases magnificent architecture of monuments. The puja was started in 1969 and the idol has a classic ethereal look.
Location: Central Kolkata. Opposite College Square, on Mahatma Gandhi Road (visit this pandal along with College Square).Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Originally founded in 1936 as "Sealdah Sarbojanin Durgotsav", it was renamed Santosh Mitra Square in 1996 and rose to fame in 1997 with a particularly innovative theme. The pandal has remained popular ever since and is known for its remarkable art work. You can expect to be dazzled!
In 2017, the pandal has caused controversy by choosing London as its theme. The Goddess will be housed in a replica of Buckingham Palace. Miniatures of London landmarks including the Big Ben, Tower Bridge and London Eye will be kept outside the pandal. The Goddess will also be dressed in a 22 carat gold sari. The costumes are being made by renowned fashion designer Agnimitra Paul.
Location: Central Kolkata, in the Bow Bazaar area. It's off BB Ganguly Street, not far from Sealdah railway station. The nearest Metro station is Central.
06 of 10
Badamtala Ashar Sangha is a long standing Durga Puja pandal (around 75 years old) that also has a special place in people's hearts. From humble beginnings it grew to win an award for creative excellence in 2010. The pandal started experimenting with themes in 1999, and was one of the first in the city to do so. Since then, its themes have been diverse and captivating.
In 2017, the pandal celebrates the travel partnership between the US and India, as well as the global spread of Bengalis. Iconic US landmarks and cityscapes have been recreated. The idol is retaining a traditional look though.
Location: South Kolkata. Nepal Bhattacharjee Street, Kalighat. Right near the Kalighat Metro railway station and Rash Bihari Ave.
07 of 10
Suruchi Sangha entertains visitors with its arty outdoor display, themed on a different state of India each year. The Durga idols are modeled on how they look in each state as well. Although this puja pandal is more than 50 years old, it first found fame in 2003 when it won an award for the best decorated pandal. It won the award again in 2009. The craftsmanship is exquisite.
Location: South Kolkata, in New Alipore near the petrol pump on Nalini Rajan Avenue (close to the National Highway 117 intersection). The nearest railways stations are Majherhat and Kalighat.
08 of 10
Lighting and Temple Replicas: Ekdalia Evergreen
Ekdalia Evergreen began in 1943 and has become well known for its outstanding replicas of temples from all over India. The decor and lighting is superb. The pandal also has one of the tallest Durga idols in the city.
Location: South Kolkata, in Gariahat. You'll find it near Mandevilla Gardens where the South Point Junior School is, off Rash Bihari Avenue towards Gariahat Flyover. The nearest railway stations are Ballygunge and Kalighat Metro.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Innovation and Technology: Jodhpur Park
The spacious Jodhpur Park pandal is one of the most popular ones in south Kolkata. Its themes have been vast and varied, with some years more traditional than others. In 2014, it went hi-tech. The idol was created out of biodegradable materials by a 3D printer, which makes three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. It was the first of its kind in the world.
Location: South Kolkata. The pandal is at Jadavpur Thana, Jodhpur Park, just off Gariahat Road South. (Jodhpur Park is close to Gariahat and Dhakuria). The nearest railway station is Dhakuria.
10 of 10
Themes Depicting Rural Bengal: Bosepukur Sitala Mandir
Established in 1950, Bosepukur Sitala Mandir is a multi-award winning Durga Puja pandal, earning it quite a reputation as one not to be missed. It's a leader in unique and unusual themes, often depicting rural Bengal.
Location: South Kolkata, in Bosepukar, Kasba. Drive towards Ruby General Hospital from Gariahat and you'll find the pandal around midway, near Bosepukar petrol pump. The closest railway station is Ballygunge.