First, a very Happy New Year to all of you, although the ‘New Year’ is already almost a week old now. I must apologise. But let me also explain — the 11-day whirlwind tour of Kolkata was both exhilarating and exhausting. And so, took time off to recover from complete lack of sleep and rest. Starting the new year’s chronicles with Kumortuli in Kolkata — Truly the place where Gods are made.
What is Kumortuli? For the benefit of those who are new to the word Kumortuli, here is the orientation — Kumortuli is the potter’s colony where idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are made. ‘Kumors’ are the idol-makers. Kumortuli in Kolkata is famous for being the biggest colony of idols. Idols made here are worshipped not only in Kolkata or the other cities of West Bengal, but they are also sent to different cities in India and abroad. Such is their workmanship with clay procured from the banks of the rivers Ganges and Hoogly, that many Kumors even travel to different cities to make idols.
Over the years, Kumortuli has been made even more popular by movies and media. The place is a photographers delight. Once here, you will want to spend the rest of the day with the potters and the artisans, marvelling at their painstakingly patient work and minute and detailed workmanship. My daughter refused to budge. She wanted to learn how they straightened the straws, bound them to different shapes and sizes, plastered them with well-beaten clay, gave shape, moulded the faces, drew the fingers, coloured the eyes, dressed the idol and decorated it. Truly a place for both children and grown-ups!!
Where is Kumortuli Located in Kolkata? Kumortuli is located in North Kolkata, very close to Shobha Bazaar. There are no taxi-drivers or bus-drivers in Kolkata who do not know this famous place. You simply have to utter the name Kumortuli and just about anybody will guide you to the right street. In case you plan to take the metro, alight at the Shobha Bazaar metro station, walk out and ask for directions. It is walking distance.
Is Kumortuli Open Throughout The Year? Yes. Although Kumortuli comes alive and roaring during the Durga Pujas when the Kumors (idol-makers) are in a frenzy to complete the idols of all sizes and types to be taken to different puja pandals within Kolkata and outside, Kumortuli gets a fair amout of work to sustain itself throughout the year. Plus, as the famous Bengali saying goes, baroh mashe teroh pabon, meaning 13 festivals in the 12 months of a year, Kumortuli is always flooded with orders of idols of Gods and Godesses. When we were there end-December, the potters were busy making the idols of Goddess Kali and Goddess Saraswati.
Kumortuli Timings: Kumortuli is open all 7 days of the week. The timings are from 9am to 1pm and from 3 pm to 8 pm
How Long Does It Take To Tour Kumortuli in Kolkata? Completely depends on you. Kumortuli is in a narrow lane flanked by the potters’ workshops on both sides. The main lane branches out to few more inside, and if you are curious enough, you will walk down every lane with your camera. We did the same. Can easily take from an hour to half a day to more. As I said, your hunger for more decides your stay here 🙂
Are Outsiders Allowed In Kolkata’s Kumortuli? Upon enquiry, the Kumors told us that during Durga Puja, photography enthusiasts and visitors are allowed entry only via passes, in order to sanitise the crowd. During the rest of the year, you can walk into Kumortuli anytime. Walk down the lanes at a leisurely pace, strike a conversation with the Kumors and you will go back home/hotel richer with anecdotes and stories.