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. Out of all the pandals I hopped, below are my ten favorites of them!
1. Where It All Begins: Kumortuli (North)
It’s particularly special because it takes place in the area where many of the Durga idols are handcrafted by professional clay modelers. This year they paid tribute to the artists of Kumortuli by decorating the pandal with paint brushes and colors.
2. The Customary One: Bagbazar Sarbojonin (North)
It 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.
3. Manhattan in Calcutta: Badamtala Ashar Sangha (South)
The pandal celebrates the spread of Bengalis in the city which never sleeps. The New York skyline has been recreated. It was like a city within a city!
4. Majestic Mahishmati: Sreebhumi Sporting Club (North)
After the record smashing performance of Baahubali in the box-office, it was only natural some Kolkata pandal would adopt it. So, we got to walk in the magnificent Mahishmati palace!
5. The Devil Urbanization: Tridhara Sammilani (South)
The buildings coming up, and everything else falling apart including the goddess. It had a magical dramatic ambiance, and the monster here was urbanization!
6. Buddham Saranam Gacchami: Mudiali Tarun Sangha (South)
This puja did not feel the hustle and buzz of commercialization. No traffic, no noise. It felt peaceful. I guess it did total justification to the Buddhist monastery theme!
7. London In Calcutta: Santosh Mitra Square (North)
This pandal celebrated the spread of Bengalis in The Square Mile. Major landmarks of London were beautifully replicated. Durga was sitting in 10kg gold sari from Senco Gold, in a replica of the Buckingham Palace, and not just an exterior replica, also the interior replica of the palace!
8. The Greenhouse Effect: Baguiati (North)
They built a greenhouse structure with walls and roof made chiefly of a semi-transparent material, where Durga sat with regulated climatic conditions! They surrounded the pandal with plants and trees which gave the ultimate effect.
9. Durga Plays Garba-Dandiya: Dum Dum Park Tarun Sangha (North)
This pandal brought the flavours of Gujarat’s Navratri celebrations. A glimpse of the ancient art form of Gujarat, Matani Pachedi, used to paint folk tales, was caught in this pandal.
10. Humbaroo! Ho! Ho!: Hindustan Park (South)
They added a tribal feel to the festival. The pandal décor and its figurines were made of rubber tubes. A gentle lull of indigenous music hangs over the pandal, while colorful feathers have balanced out the black. Durga’s idol in the pandal was very elegant.