Last Updated: December 7, 2019 Nidhi Singh
Durga Puja or how the Bongs call it Durga Pujo, is a time of the year when the entire West Bengal soaks in celebration. New clothes for everyone, new linen for the house, new gadgets and cars, and nights full of devotion, feasting, and a grand celebration. What makes for a magnificent sight though is the Puja Pandal, which every year gets better and grander! Another thing to notice over the years is how the celebration of Durga Puja has journeyed to other parts of the country and the world with the Bengalis. It is also true for the Puja Pandals and traditions. Now, you don’t have to plan a trip to Kolkata for Durga Puja experience; you can visit various other cities of India and relish the same experience. Well, perhaps this blog can be your Durga Puja 2020 celebration and pandal guide in India.
Durga Puja Celebration Dates: 22nd to 26th October 2020
Kolkata, West Bengal
We can’t begin this list without mentioning Kolkata, because it’ll be unfair, don’t you think. The City of Joy springs up with the commencement of Durga Puja and even earlier. The famed Kumartuli is barged with orders months before the festival. And once the festivity begins, the entire city is dotted with grand Durga Puja Pandals based on varied themes. If you are in Kolkata during Durga Puja, do not miss out on visiting the Baghbazar Sarbojanin Puja, which is reckoned one of the oldest puja pandals in the city. While you can savour good food at any of the pandals in Kolkata, a must-visit are the food stalls at Maddox square. Two most famous puja pandals are Deshapriya Park Durga Puja and Sreebhumi Sporting Club.
It comes as a bit of surprise to non-Bengali people that Nashik could be one of the venues for the grand Durga Puja celebration and grander puja pandals as well. But, the fact is, Nashik does host one of the best Durga Puja celebrations in Maharashtra. The festivity started in 1954 with Nashik Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee initiating the first Durga Puja Pandal in the city. Later more pandals were set up by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (H.A.L) in Ojhar; at Artillery Station, Deolali; the industrial area of Satpur-Ambad, CIDCO, Rajeevnagar, Panchavati, and Mahatmanagar. However, the one Durga Puja Pandal in Nashik to look forward to is of Nashik Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee which is the oldest and largest in the city.
The northeastern state of Tripura is an ideal destination to experience the Durga Puja celebration in India. There were around 2500 community celebrations in the state in 2013 while the capital city Agartala has been known to celebrate Durga Puja for more than 200 years now. With such a rich history, don’t you think, Agartala is worth exploring during the festive season? When here during the Durga Puja, do not miss out on witnessing the celebration at Durgabari Temple, the oldest venue for the celebration in Agartala.
The enormous size of the celebration in Guwahati can be compared to Kolkata’s. We are talking about 500 community pandals across the length and breadth of the city, which means you can enjoy unlimited pandal hopping, eating and being at awe with varied themes of the puja pandals. The best theme-based decorations can be seen at Athgaon Sarvajanin Durga Puja Samiti pandal and Bishnupur High School. At Geetanager Field and Rest Camp, Pandu, one can enjoy live music, eating at a large number of food stalls, and shopping. Also, visit Kamarpatty Sarbajanin Durga Puja at Kamarpatty area where a giant asura (demon) is the main attraction.
The celebration of Durga Puja in Cuttack dates back to 1832 by the Bengali and Oriya employees of the East India Company. In Cuttack, you can witness the silver and gold jewellery clad Durga in many lanes and pandals of what is also called Akaal Bodhon ceremony. In fact, in the suburbs of the city, there is a permanent Durga Puja Pandal where people can pay obeisance throughout the year.
Puri welcomes Durga in a slightly different way in its Gosani Yatra. During the Durga Puja festival in Puri and the Gosani Yatra, different types of clay figures of Ravana lifting Kailash mountain, the Sampati bird along with monkeys, demons, ghosts, Nagas, wooden toys and more are also worshipped. Also, the faces of the Gosani figures give an impression that Devi (Durga) and Mahisasura are looking at each other with great concentration and engaging in a fierce fight. The figurines are unlike the images of Kolkata and Cuttack, where the face of Devi is generally depicted in profile. Durga Puja in Puri is worth seeing if you have already seen the celebrations in Kolkata and want to see a new form of celebration.
The melting pot of culture, Delhi is undoubtedly the best place to visit during Durga Puja because clearly, the celebration here is unbeatable. From C.R. Park to Kashmere Gate to Minto Road, the Durga Puja Pandals in Delhi only keep getting better and grander! Watch one of the famous temples in Delhi come alive at The Safdarjung Enclave Durga Puja Pandal. On the other side, for witnessing one of the oldest Durga pujas in Delhi, visit Kashmere Gate where a grand pandal and exquisite decor will woo you. For watching the traditional Dhununchi Naach, visit the Minto Road Pandal. Timarpur and Civil Lines Pandals are also a must-visit in Delhi to get the flavour of age-old Durga Puja traditions and rituals.
You really can’t miss the Durga Puja celebration in Mumbai. We’re talking about more than 100 community pandals across the city inviting devotees and travellers alike to be part of a celebration of a lifetime. You’d sense a touch of modernity in the festivity though, and still, it’ll be one of the best Durga Puja experiences in India for you. Do include Powai Sarvajanin Durgotsav, Lokhandwala Durgotsav and the ones in Shivaji Park, Andheri, and Chembur. For an authentic taste of khichuri and labra, visit the Thakur Village Durgotsav in Kandivali. If you wish to spot celebrities, Balkanji Bari Durga Puja in Santa Cruz is a puja pandal you may not want to miss.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Visit Varanasi for the iconic Durga Puja celebration at Baageshwari Devi Durga Puja Samiti at Jaitpura. This spiritual centre of India is also seen celebrating Navratri followed by Dussehra, so you’re basically in for a double treat if you plan a trip to Varanasi. Apart from witnessing the puja pandal at Jaitpura, you can catch live performances at Baba Macchodaranath Durgotsav Samiti pandal and the daily evening cultural programmes at the pandal in Bhelupur. If in Varanasi for Durga Puja, stay till the 10th day to witness the celebration of Dussehra as well.
The grandeur and zeal of the festivity of Durga Puja would leave you surprised! The celebration in Hyderabad is something you don’t want to miss as you can see the city coming alive. The first puja pandal in Hyderabad traces its history back to 1942, and ever since the festival has become grander each year. You can witness the best of Durga Puja celebration in JPN Community Centre by Cyberabad Bangali Association. Then in Domalguda, you can witness the oldest Durga Puja Pandal set up by Hyderabad Bangalee Samity. In Secunderabad’s Vivekanandpuram, the Durga Puja festival is celebrated at its best at the beautiful Kali Bari Temple. The Keyes High School For Girls also organizes one of the best Durga Puja celebrations and is the best place to relish food and shopping during the festivity.
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
You wouldn’t believe how much fun is the Durga Puja festival in Chennai. The city doesn’t let its Bengali citizens miss home by offering them the chance to come together and celebrate the festival with a lot of zeal. To watch the oldest Durga Puja pandal in Chennai, you have to visit Giri Road in T Nagar where The Bengal Association hosts the celebration. You should attend SMCA Durga Puja in Besant Nagar, which is the most famous Durga Puja in Chennai. Relish homemade food and a gamut of theatre, music and dance performances here. Dakshini Society in Anna Nagar, Ramakrishna Mission Puja in Mylapore, and Dakshin Chennai Prabasi Cultural Association, Kelambakkam, OMR are other must-visit puja pandals in Chennai.
These are some of the places where you can witness the grandeur of Durga Puja in India. However, let me assure you, there are plenty other places like Pune and Nagpur in Maharashtra, Bengaluru in Karnataka, Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and Patna in Bihar where you can relish the festivity to the fullest. We hope you found the blog helpful, do show us your love by liking and sharing it with others. Also, tell us in the comment section what more should we add to this blog. We’d be happy to make the changes.
Published: 04 Sep, 2019
From the Lake District, Nainital, Nidhi Singh is a travel writer whose love for mountains can be seen in her write ups. Talk about solo travelling, indulging in adventure activities, binging on good food, planning budget trips or the Aurora Borealis and you will get all her attention. It is the wanderlust that keeps her going and if at all she could get one wish granted she would love to live a life less ordinary. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.