23 October 2010

Shoptomi Pandal Hopping: Too many pandals

Shoptomi (literally 'seventh day') is a big day for the pujo. Lots of activities at the local pandal, and the pandal hopping really picks up in Kolkata. The biggest crowds occur on Nobami (ninth day), but it's pretty bad even on Shoptomi. After our disastrous experience in north kolkata on Shoshti, we decided to stick with South Kolkata pandals on Shoptomi. As such, we made it to many, many more pandals, with a total of six that were really good: Jodhpur Park, EDF, Mudiali, Shivmandir, Shinghi Park, and Ekdalia Evergreen.

Jodhpur Park

My first daytime pandal was at Jodhpur park. This pandal was built to look like it had made out of legos, which was pretty cool. Various decorations around the pandal had pictures of Batman, Tom & Jerry, and more. They even had trees shaped like lego trees. I thought the concept was pretty cool, although it didn't look as sturdy as the other pandals we saw on Shosthi or Shoptomi. The lego look didn't extend into the idol, but the idol was pretty cool nonetheless: It had been deocrated to look like everything was made from clay. I loved the concept, although it didn't match the outside very much.

Prize: Most nostalgic.

EDF Pandal

My expert guide referred to this pandal as the 'pandal near EDF', without being more specific on the name. I'm rather sad that I don't know the exact pandal name, because it was an extremely well done pandal, one of my favorites of the pujo (for comparison, I took over 400 pictures here, while I took about 40 at east park circus). This pandal was based on artwork from the Shantinikiten area, which includes an arts-focused school founded by Tagore, the patron saint of Bengali literature and poetry. Not being from Bengal, I couldn't appreciate it with the same eye that my in-laws could. That being said, even to my untrained eye, the artwork in the pandal was incredible.

Outside the pandal they had a stature of Tagore, and tons of quotes from him. Inside, they had different kinds of artwork at different levels -- paintings on the ceiling, brasswork on the ground level, and other decorations on the wall. Very nice. I had a lot of trouble picking just three pictures for this pandal -- see my Shoptomi Picasa for more.

Prize: Best artwork, inside and out.


The Mudiali pandal was modeled after some sort of Indian castle. Again, I don't know if it was a specific castle, or just that sort of architecture. The inside was pretty nice, but the crowd was really picking up by this time and I didn't get much chance to explore it. The chandelier was very nice as well. According to my mother in law, Mudiali is very famous for the idol decorations, and the idol was definitely unique. It had all the classic elements of an idol, plus about a million peacocks. I didn't notice this when I visited the pandal, but rather when I got home and looked at my pictures from Shoptomi. I took a zoomed-in shot of Durga that was actually rather frighteningly full of peacocks.

Prize: Most overuse of a single decoration.


Shivmandir was located quite near to Mudiali, just down the block. Despite its proximity, we never did quite figure out how we got back to our car. Anyways, just down the road from Mudiali, we found what looked like an enormous tree stump, with a cave into it. This was the Shivmandir pandal, although I still haven't a clue what it's trying to look like (maybe a giant tree stump). Inside they had a somewhat spooky statue guarding the entrance, an area with stuffed bird and mock trees, and then the idol itself. The idol was very nice, but I never did figure out what exactly the theme was.

Prize: Most unusual theme.

Shinghi Park

Our next pandal was located at Shinghi Park. This pandal was shaped like the Golden Fortress, the primary Sikh temple, located in Amritsar. The internal decorations were very nice, although they tended towards tessellated patterns done in red. This decorative motif extended to the idol as well, which was absolutely enormous. Unlike some of the other Shoptomi pandals, this one was basically just a room with the idol in it. It was a well decorated room, but it lacked the statuary of the other large pandals.

Prize: Best non-hindu temple reproduction.

Ekdalia Evergreen

Our final pandal on Shoptomi was the Ekdalia Evergreen pandal, which was built to resemble temples from South India. The temple was gigantic (at least five stories, probably more like six-seven), but not as wide as the large pandals from Shealdah that we saw on shoshti. The exterior artwork was fantastic, with carvings depicting mythological stories and the exterior color spot-on for a weathered stone building. The weathered stone color looked completely incongruous in the Gariahat neighborhood, but it was quite nice. Also, unlike the other pandals, the name was written on the pandal in roman characters, which prevents me from asking my experts on how to spell things (but does not guarantee that I got it right). The idol was very nice and very colorful, but not as ornately decorated as the Shinghi Park idol nor as modern as the EDF idol.

Prize: Best exterior.

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