“Mahalaya” marks the beginning of Durga Puja and Navratri. On this auspicious day every year my father goes to the Ganges to pay homage to our ancestors. We had accompanied him to Princeps Ghat last time. After all the rituals me and Mrittika (my sibling) decided to head to north Kolkata. We wanted to visit Kumartuli, a artisan’s locality in the northern part of Kolkata along the banks of Ganges. It is one of the largest potter’s village in the state and houses thousands of craftsmen and artisans in it.
We got down at Sovabazar metro station and started walking towards Kumartuli. The road of north Kolkata has a pristine charm in them unlike any other in the “City of joy”. After breakfast with “kachori and sabji” and some sweets, we walked with many others who were also heading towards the area. In another 20 mins we reached a narrow alley where a street sign marked the entry to the area.
Kumartuli literally meaning “Kumar-potters and Tuli- locality” is a very old settlement of artisans in the north Kolkata area. The narrow alley was clogged with visitors who were eager to check out the making of the idols. Around two hundred families resided in the area. They had set up their outlets with very basic facilities. Each house has a distinct art and craft work related to the Durga Puja- the most important festival for the Bengali’s.
I checked out several houses where locals were focused in their work despite being cramped from daily visitors in the limited space. Some of them also had showpieces for sale. The old house had high arched ceilings where gigantic goddess idols were getting their final touches. Some were about to be transferred to the Puja pandals. Many photographers (like me) were present to capture the best shots. Youth decked up in their festive attire have gathered in huge numbers decked. It was a festive environment.
After exploring the various alleys we headed out of the area. I spotted a man selling “amras” (I am not sure about its name in English). It was a tangy fruit which was mixed with spices and pickles. I used to frequently have them in my childhood days while coming back from school. My childhood memories just became afresh at the sight of “amras”. We walked back along the main road where goddess idols were loaded on the trucks waiting to be sent to the Pandals across the city and outside.
A visit to Kumartuli is totally worth it.
Things to remember:
- Nearest metro station- Shovabazar Sutanati.
- Nearest boat stop- Shovabazar launch ghat on the Ganges.
- Prepare to walk a lot through the narrow alley.
- Must wear comfortable shoes
- Try to visit early in the morning as it get very crowded later in the day
- Photography gear
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