India, the land of diverse cultures, varied traditions, and exquisite festivals, never stops amazing the world with her richness. Every festival that is celebrated in India marks the astounding cultural beauty of this nation!
Durga Puja is one such gorgeous festival of India. Celebrated in October or on the Karthik month of the Bengali calendar, it is nothing short of a carnival. Being the most awaited festival of the year for Bengalis, it is celebrated worldwide with great pomp and show. The air gets filled with a beautiful aura. The sprawling fields painted white by the Kash Phool, the resounding echoes of the melodious “Bajlo Tomar Alor Benu”, the pumping beats of the Dhaak, the breathtakingly beautiful pandals, and the serene and eye-soothing idols of the beautiful Almighty, Goddess Maa Durga! Durga Puja is one brilliant opportunity for every photographer to play with the stunning hues of the festival!
Durga Puja is celebrated with an unmatched enthusiasm in the state of West Bengal. It is also celebrated in the states of Bihar, Assam, Odisha, and Tripura. The Indian diaspora of other countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Germany, Hong Kong, the United States of America, as well as Switzerland, Sweden, London, and the Netherlands also come together to unite in their respective foreign lands and celebrate Durga Puja. As the legend of the Hindu Mythology goes, the warrior goddess Durga was brought into existence by the collective effort of all the gods in heaven. When one of the asuras - the evil beings who reside in 'pataal', or below the earth - was granted a boon which stated that he cannot be killed by any man, he began to try and take over the abode of the Gods. Since Mahishasura was not careful enough to choose his boon wisely, he forgot to ask for immunity from women. Following a five day battle between Durga and Mahishasura, the former emerged victorious, thereby returning peace to the gods and their homes. This is why Durga Puja is celebrated with such glory and enthusiasm.
Durga Puja is a ten-day-long festival and it is more of a grand carnival in the city of joy, Kolkata. The festivities begin from the day of Mahalaya. Then comes Maha Shashti, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Nabami and finally it ends with Devi Visarjan on Maha Dashami. On the days of Durga Puja, Kolkata shimmers like a glamorous bride. The streets are decorated with lights and flowers, huge and extremely beautiful gates are built out of bamboo, soothing music in the surrounding beautifies the atmosphere. Durga Puja is a festival that marks the victory of good over evil, it is an ode to every fierce and beautiful woman, it is a festival that empowers women. It is one magnificent festival that you can never afford to miss out on!
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta is the City of Joy, for real. Situated on the Eastern bank of Hooghly river, it is a beautiful city to visit. Wrapped by the garb of modernism, the city never abandons its roots. The charm of the city will bewitch you and leave you enchanted. So here’s how you can set foot in Kolkata.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, situated in Dumdum, is very well connected to almost every city of India. The airport has both domestic flights as well as international flights carrying passengers throughout the day. Spicejet, Indigo, Air India, Jet Airways, Air Asia, and Vistara are the flights that you can avail to reach Kolkata. The airport is very well connected internationally as well. You can look up for the flights from the IRCTC AIR website.
Kolkata has an efficient network of railways and is well linked to cities across the country. There are two major railway stations in the city, namely the Howrah station and the Sealdah station. Superfast trains like Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express connect Kolkata from Delhi and nearby places. Other trains run to and fro from these stations throughout the day, keeping the stations extremely busy round the clock. You can check out for the trains available from the IRCTC website.
Kolkata is connected with most of the Indian cities by road. National highway 2 and 6 connect the city with other cities and states. Kolkata has a broad network of private and government-run buses. The Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC), Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC), and the West Bengal State Transport Corporation (WBSTC) run regular bus services in the city. The Esplanade Terminus in the heart of the city is the main bus terminus.
DELICACIES FROM THE STREETS!
- Tiretti Bazaar, Kolkata - P-16, Sun Yat-Sen St, Tertia Bazar, Poddar Court, Tiretti, Kolkata, West Bengal 700012.
- Kusum’s Rolls - 21, Park St, Park Street area, Kolkata, West Bengal 700016.
- Telebhaja (Fritters) - Kalika Mukhorochak at College Street
MEAL TIME IT IS!
- Arsalan - 191 Arsalan Ground Floor Marina Garden Court Near Hotel Akash Deep, Park Street Area, Kolkata 700017 India.
- 6 Ballygunge Place- 6, Ballygunge Place, Ballygunge Near Patah Bhavan School, Kolkata 700019.
- Bhojohori Manna- 18 / 1 A Hindusthan Road EM Bypass, Sarat Bose Road, Near Deshopriya Park, Kolkata 700029.
- Pan Asian - ITC Sonar Hotel, 1, Lobby Level, Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, JBS Haldane Avenue Itc Sonar, Kolkata.
- Ottimo Cucina Italiana - ITC Royal Bengal, JBS Haldane Avenue Opposite Science City, Kolkata 700046.
- Dum Phukt - JBS Haldane Avenue ITC Sonar, Opposite Science City, Kolkata 700046.
- Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick - 2, Paddapukur Rd, Jadubabur Bazar, Bhowanipore, Kolkata, West Bengal 700020.
- Mouchak - No.2 Auckland place opp. Conclave, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Rd, Besides, Kolkata, West Bengal 700017.
- Bhim Chandra Nag - 46, Strand Rd, Fairley Place, Barabazar Market, Kolkata, West Bengal 700007.
Accommodation in Kolkata is not a big deal. Several hotels are available depending on your budget. However, during the rush hours of Durga Puja, we recommend you to make your bookings almost 6 months before your visit.
THE BUDGET HOTELS:
- BASERA GUEST HOUSE: Situated in the very happening area of Golpark, this hotel is extremely budget-friendly and convenient to stay during the days of the festivities. Standard, well sanitized and a safe double bedroom with 24-hour room services and wifi connection will charge you ₹754 per night. Special services include free early check-in, late checkout, and meal upgrading facilities, and free cancellation. A similar, but the air-conditioned room will cost you ₹933 with an additional facility of complimentary breakfast.
- STEP IN STAYS: This hotel is extremely budget-friendly and convenient to stay during the days of the festivities, as well. Standard, well sanitized and safe, air-conditioned double bedroom with king-size bed and with 24-hour room services and wifi connection will charge you ₹687 per night. Special services include free early check-in, late check-out, and meal upgrading facilities, and free cancellation.
1 STAR HOTELS:
- KRISHNA VATIKA GUEST HOUSE:Located in Salt Lake Sector I, this hotel is best suited for people of all types, be it children, family, bachelor, or even unmarried couples. A well sanitized, air-conditioned room with a king-size bed, 24-hour room service, balcony, and free breakfast, charge ₹1272 per night. It provides an additional facility for free cancellation, as well.
- KINGSTON BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Situated in 394 Jessore Road, this hotel is well suited for tourists as well. With a wonderful location that is just 4.1km away from the airport, this hotel is one such hotel that you’d want to check out! A well sanitized, air-conditioned room with a king-size bed, 24-hour room service, balcony, and free breakfast, charges ₹952 per night. It provides additional facilities of free cancellation, free parking, smoking rooms, housekeeping, and attached bathrooms. You got to check this out!
3 STAR HOTELS:
- PARK PALACE HOTEL: This sophisticated hotel in Gariahat Road is a place for you to enjoy your escape from daily routine. A well sanitized, air-conditioned, double bedroom with attached bathroom and daily housekeeping, this hotel charges ₹1247 per night. It provides additional facilities like free and secured parking, multilingual staff, and dry cleaning services. The best part about the location of the hotel is that it is located right in the heart of the Gariahat market, which is one of the best places for street shopping and street photography.
- THE LINDSAY: The Lindsay, nestled in Kolkata boasts of elegant culture, flamboyant history, and a prosperous future. A well sanitized, air-conditioned, double bedroom with attached bathroom, free wifi, and daily housekeeping, this hotel charges ₹2181 per night. It provides additional facilities like free and secured parking, multilingual staff, and dry cleaning services. It provides an additional facility for free cancellation, as well. Special services include free early check-in, late check-out, and meal upgrading facilities, and free cancellation.
5 STAR HOTELS:
- NOVOTEL KOLKATA HOTEL AND RESIDENCES: Close to the IT sector in New Town and a short 20-min drive from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport, Novotel Kolkata Hotel and Residences is the largest 5-star hotel in Eastern India. A stay in a well air-conditioned kingsize bedroom will charge you ₹4049 with complimentary breakfast. Common in-room amenities include en suite bath/shower, ergonomic work area, LCD TV, internet, hairdryer, minibar, and tea/coffee maker. Selected rooms offer a separate living room, bathtub, and kitchenette. Hotel Facilities: The hotel features a fitness center, business center, spa with steam and sauna, indoor and outdoor banqueting, and an outdoor swimming pool. Guests can avail of facilities such as currency exchange, concierge, porter, and more. For dining the hotel has The Square is a 24-hour restaurant serving international cuisine, The Studio (Pan Asian), Delice (bakery), Sante (lounge bar), and Cascades (pool bar).
- THE PARK KOLKATA: Located on the posh Park Street, in the heart of Kolkata city, The Park Hotel offers luxurious accommodation along with warm hospitality. It can be reached within 10 minutes drive from the Sealdah Railway Station, while the NSCBI airport is just 30 minutes away from here. Prominent landmarks accessible within 10 minutes from the hotel include Birla Planetarium, Marble Palace, Camac Street, and Howrah Bridge. A room for a person for a night has a rate of ₹6126. The hotel has opulent suites and rooms that include 36 Deluxe Rooms, 36 Luxury Rooms, 60 Luxury Premium Rooms, 16 Residence Suites, and 1 Presidential Suite. All these Wi-Fi enabled rooms and suites are equipped with modern amenities. Guests can relish gourmet food at the in-house restaurants, namely Zen, Saffron, and The Bridge. The hotel has some rocking bars, namely Roxy, Tantra, and Someplace Else. Moreover, guests can also visit Street Cafe for light snacks and coffee.
There are several beautiful places to visit during your stay in Kolkata. Below here is the list of the top 20 places that you cannot afford to miss when in Kolkata.
- Victoria Memorial.
- Fort William Kolkata.
- Belur Math.
- Howrah Bridge.
- Indian Museum.
- Birla Planetarium.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral.
- Birla Mandir Kolkata.
- Eden Gardens.
- Jorashanko Thakur Bari.
- Rabindra Sarovar.
- Shobhabajar Rajbari.
- Kalighat Temple.
- Nakhoda Mosque.
- Botanical Gardens.
- Alipore Zoo.
- Calcutta Jain Temple.
- Eco-Tourism Park.
- Dakhshineswar Kali Temple.
- Prinsep Ghat.