We went on a tour in one of the West Bengal tourist buses on Saptami(Saptami is the first day of Durga puja) on October 14th. This trip is the "Sanatani trip". If you are interested in visiting some beautiful old houses of Kolkata, I would recommend this trip. We had a very good guide for our trip, he had a lot of information on the history of all of these barir puja that we were going to.
Kolkata's creativity reaches its peak during Durga pujas. I am very enthusiastic about taking a tour and checking out the wonderfully artisitic pandals. It feels so sad that pujas are over:(
This puja parikrama was however not for the pandals, I wanted to visit and get the essence of Durga puja celebrations at the Banedi baris of Kolkata. West bengal tourism was organising such a tour. I booked my ticket almost a month and a half before and still could not get tickets for the morning trip:( I did manage to get tickets for the aftrenoon bus.
On Satami, we set off around 2.30pm from Netaji Indoor Stadium. Each of us was handed a brochure with information on the Pujas that we were going to. ( Some of the information that I have given here is from the brochure provided by WB tourism) Along with the brochures came a sumptuous box of snacks!
Munching on our snacks and feeling happy about the trip ahead, we set off.
Our first destination was Chandra Bari Durga puja. Bharat Chandra started this Puja. The Thakurdalan where the puja is held has been designed by a renouned architect , Srish Chandra Chattapadhyay. This premise has been declared as heritage property.
Chandra Bari Durga Puja
Next stop was Thanthania Dutta bari durga puja.This puja is over a century and a half old. The thakurdalan where the puja takes place is well maintained and very well illuminated. This deity is a bit different from the other deities. Here, Ma Durga is sitting on the lap of Lord Shiva.
Our next stop was Chhatubabu-Latubabur pujo, which was yet another impessive house. This puja was started by Ramdulal Deb in 1780, the ancestor of two famous Benali aristocrats Chhatubabu and Latubabu. The durga puja here is held behind a thin veil of purda. We were very impressed with the exuberance and grandeur of this place.Very impressive.We captured pictures of some more building owned by them. Each very well maintained and beautiful. There are two temples which belong to the family.
Considering the kind of traffic jam that Kolkata encounters during Durga puja, we were having a smooth ride. Hardly any traffic jams...i guess because it was aftrenoon, most people want to rest in the afternoons and visit the pujas in the evening!
Shovabazar Raj bari was very impressive too! This puja started way back in 1757. Goddess Durga's image has not changed since it started.Durga's vahana is more like a horse than a lion.
Even though it was raining, the crowd was getting thicker, with people and festivity all around, the mood was effervescent! Inspite of the rains, the crowd; it was wonderful experience.
Our last stop was Rani Rashmoni bari. This puja started in 1780 in Janbazar, Kolkata.This Durga puja has the privilege of sanctification by the great Sri Ramkrishna Parmhansadeb in 1864.The "Bhog" that is cooked here is very special. It is cooked with ganges water.
We spent a wonderful evening visiting these beautiful old Banedi baris of Kolkata.I wish we could see some more today. As alawys all good things come to end too soon...I thought to myself, but Durga puja had just started and this was just day one of durga puj!
My spirits lifted and I quickly called a friend of mine who lives in Bhowanipur. He organises a small puja with four of his friends, and I remembered that there are some banedi baris there as well. My next plan of action was decided. We thanked our guide for the wonderful day and got down at Dharmatala. We got a cab easily and off we went to ur!
I have some more beautiful pictures of Goddess Durga and beautiful pandals to share. Will continue this post with much much more.