There is no better time to visit Kolkata than Durga Puja, the annual festival where the City of Joy decks up in its choicest finery and every locality or para as it is colloquially known, resembles a mini-carnival of sorts. Durga Puja is observed in the Ashvin month which falls in September or October of the Gregorian calendar and commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura or Good over Evil.

Durga Puja is a riot of colors, music, rituals, art, culture and lots more. Here are the top things to do in Kolkata during Durga Puja:

Going pandal hopping

Durga Puja is incomplete without pandal hopping anytime of the day or night. Travellers can put up at budget hotels in Kolkata near famous pandals. Affordable hotels in Hazra like FabHotel Arya Regency, located on S.P. Mukherjee Road near Jatin Das Park metro station, are the best choice. Famous puja places like Maddox Square (Lansdowne Road), 66 Palli, Badamtala Ashar Sangha and even iconic puja pandals at Gariahat including Deshapriya Park, Ekdalia Evergreen, Singhi Park and more are easily accessible from here.

You should check out other well-known pujas like Ballygunge Cultural and Durgabari which are famous for their old-world charm. FabHotel Ratnakar Inn – one of the most preferred budget hotels in Ballygunge – is the perfect choice for staying near these pandals.

There are thousands of famous Durga puja pandals located in Kolkata but you should check out the most famous ones like Barisha, Suruchi Sangha, Chetla Agrani and Naktala Udayan Sangha. You can also visit the top pujas in North Kolkata like Mohd. Ali Park, College Square, Ahiritola, Beniatola, Bagbazar Sarbojanin and more. Choose hotels in and around North Kolkata like FabHotel Pawan Putra in Kankurgachi which is near the Lake Town Sreebhumi puja pandal.

You can also zero in on budget hotels in Salt Lake which are close to major landmarks of the city. Staying at FabHotel Sreemaa Salt Lake will give you easy access to many famous pujas.

Decking up in your traditional best

Durga Puja is all about dressing up in traditional outfits and nothing encapsulates this better than a saree for women and dhoti-kurta for men. Ashtami is incomplete without wearing white sarees with attractive red borders while men can pick from a variety of colorful kurtas. Women can check out stores like RMGC Basak and Traders Assembly at Gariahat market while men can visit Kimbadanti or even the Dakshinapan Shopping Complex for stocking up on traditional outfits for this auspicious occasion.

Hogging on amazing local food

Durga Puja is when thousands of big and small eateries sprout up on street corners and pavements, offering a variety of lip-smacking delights. Egg rolls are a major favorite for residents along with other options like fish fry, noodles, chicken/egg chops, kachauris, jalebis, ghugni, shingara and lots more. Oh and yes, do not forget to sample the humble yet powerful puchka – Kolkata’s unofficial 8th wonder of the world!

For your dose of authentic Bengali cuisine, try 6 Ballygunge Place or Bhojohori Manna or even Kasturi. Bohemian is your go-to destination for fusion food like Malpua cheesecake and Gondhoraj Souffle. You can also visit Chinatown which is a food hub in itself at Tangra or romance delicious Chinese, Oriental and Continental dishes at restaurants in and around Park Street. Some names like Mocambo, Peter Cat, Bar B Q or Olypub carry with them slices of the city’s rich cultural history as well! If you’re a Biryani lover, well Arsalan, Rahmania and Aminia are worth visiting!

Enjoying various cultural activities

Check out the bevy of Durga Puja functions and rituals at major puja pandals. Most neighborhoods have their own music, dance and theatre programs along with performances by leading celebrities. There is the tradition of offering anjali (prayers) to the Goddess on Ashtami along with the sindur-khela on Dashami where women smear each other lovingly with red vermilion. Several rituals are performed each day at pandals and delicious bhog is also offered to visitors. Be entranced by the sound of the dhak, aartis and of course, the irrepressible dhunuchi naach which should give you some great snaps!

Attending the immersion ceremony

Durga Puja comes to an end with the Immersion Ceremony where neighborhoods converge and sing and dance till the Goddess is immersed in the holy waters of the Ganges. This is popularly known as bhasan and people usually have a ball on the streets and smear each other with colors while dancing to popular music. The immersion rituals taking place at major ghats like Babughat are a sight to behold. This is definitely one occasion where you can witness the sheer magic of the city.

Durga Puja is the best time to experience Kolkata in all its splendor. If you’re on a budget and desire quality accommodation, Fabhotels is the best option. There are several hotels under the aegis of the brand across the city. FabHotels has more than 250 hotels in 20+ cities across the country and offers the lowest online prices for both tourists and business travelers. The new-age budget hotels brand emphasizes strongly on technology for ensuring the best customer experiences and reliable backend operations. This budget hospitality brand is characterized by excellent service by properly trained staff members and strict auditing procedures.

With so many things to do and multiple attractions to savor, spending Durga Puja in Kolkata certainly makes for a wonderful experience. Moreover, people here are more welcoming than most other cities and when it’s their biggest annual festival, you can expect to have a great time!