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If you are crazy about visiting Kolkata during Durga puja, you must hit the city at least one week prior to the festival. The main reason for visiting the city in advance is to behold the finishing touches of the Durga idols.
Even if it is not possible for you, there is a plethora of other options to rejoice during this festival.
If you are totally new to the city, the best way to participate in Durga puja celebrations is to get in touch with the various types of tours organized by different travel companies or agencies.
The Tourism Development Corp. of West Bengal also offers various tours and short trips within Kolkata and nearby cities during Durga puja. Following are some of the best ways to experience Durga puja in the City of Joy:
Experience The Making Of Durga Idols
If you happen to be in the city a week ahead of the festival, you can plan to visit the area named "Kumartuli", which is located in North Kolkata. A majority of Durga idols are crafted by the skilled artisans at Kumartuli.
Here, you can witness the making of the idols and see the dedication and effort of the artists who make them. These idols take several months to be brought into shape.
There are almost 150 potters who live in Kumartuli with their families. Just hit the place on the day of "Mahalaya" just one week prior to Durga Puja and you will be able to witness the artists painting the eyes of Goddess Durga.
This ritual is considered to be very auspicious and is known as the "Chokkhu Daan" ritual.
Experience Pandal Hopping
Pandal hopping is the main highlight of this festival. The city is dotted with a myriad of Durga pandals in almost every locality. Each pandal has a special theme and decoration.
Although it is impossible to visit the innumerable pandals of Kolkata, you can plan to visit the most popular ones, which are in the North and South Kolkata.
The best time to start pandal hopping is during the night when they are illumined. However, if you want to avoid the crowd, you can visit the pandals even during daytime.
Experience A Zamindari (or Bonedi Bari) Puja
Apart from visiting the public puja pandals, you should also check out one of the traditional Zamindari pujas or Bonedi Bari Durga pujas.
These pujas are celebrated in the palatial mansions of zamindar families. The 2 most popular Bonedi Bari pujas of Kolkata are - Rani Rashmonibari and Shovabazaar Rajbari.
Experience The Bengali Cuisines
Durga puja is the best time to satiate your taste buds with the most delectable Bengali cuisines. When it comes to Bengalis and Durga puja, you will get a vast array of scrumptious food in every nook and corner of the city.
You must savour the "Bhog", which is served at almost all puja pandals in the noon. Whether it is any pandal or on streets as well as in restaurants, whenever you feel famished during pandal hopping, just grab a bite at any of these eateries.
Some restaurants also offer a special menu for Durga puja, which comprises of authentic Bengali cuisines and sweets.
Experience "Bhashaan" Or Immersion Of Devi Durga
The final day of Durga puja is also called "Dashami". On this day, the festival comes to an end. All the married women put sindoor (red colour powder) on Devi Durga and thereafter play with each other by sprinkling and smearing sindoor.
This ritual is known as "Sindoor Khela". After sindoor khela, the immersion of the idol takes place in the evening time.
To witness the immersion ceremony, you need to visit Babu Ghat, which is the most famous place for Durga immersion.