Kolkata is known for historic buildings, lip-smacking food and rich culture. And the greatest festival of Kolkata, Durga Puja, defines the vibrant spirit of the city. During the festival, the entire Kolkata looks like a museum with ornate pandals in varied themes, majestic idols of Goddess Durga, magnificent lights and much more. Durga Puja pulls crowds from all over the world to the city. Due to the huge rush of locals and well as tourists, hotels and restaurants remain overpacked during this time. So, if you’re planning to travel to Kolkata during Durga Puja, you need to keep the following things in mind:
1. Book Flights In Prior
Ensure that you book your flights way ahead of taking the journey. Flight rates to Kolkata are much higher than usual before and during Durga Puja. So, if you book your tickets at the last moment, be ready to shell out a bomb.
2. Collect Passes
All popular pandals across Kolkata remain overwhelmingly packed with visitors during the festival. At times, people need to wait in queue for over 3-4 hours to get a glimpse of a pandal. The only way to avoid standing in the queue is to collect pandal passes. Many local Durga Puja edition magazines come with these passes. Get in touch with a local friend to know which magazines you need to buy for the passes. Or if you know someone from the puja committee, you can ask for the pass to that pandal directly from the person.
3. Stay In Heritage Homes
The best way to soak in the vibe of the festival is to stay in a heritage home in the city. They will treat you with Bengali hospitality and serve you authentic Bengali food. Also, Durga Puja is celebrated in homely style in these palatial properties.
4. Wear Ethnic On Ashtami
Essentially, the 5 days of Durga Puja are Sasti, Saptami, Ashtami, Nabami and Dashami. Kolkatans dress up in new clothes during Durga Puja. While even western is fine for the rest of the four days, ethnic is the city’s dress code for Ashtami. So, pack your clothes accordingly.
5. Participate In Shidur Khela And Bhashan
On Dashami, the last day of the festival, married women doll up in white sarees with red borders and play with sindur at the pandals. The ritual is known as shidur khela. People dance to the beats of the dhak with dhunuchi ( Bengali incense burner) in hand. Finally, the bhasan or immersion ceremony happens and emotional city folks bid goodbye to Durga Ma and say asche bochor abar hobe ( the celebration will happen again next year). A grand immersion ceremony takes place at Baghbazar Ganga Ghat.
So, if you’re planning to catch a train or flight, do it after Dashami. Or if you have more time in hand, you can stay back and explore more of the stunning city. For now, enjoy this virtual tour of Kolkata from the comfort of your couch: