Idol Crafting

Getty Images/Flickr RF

Kumartuli Idol-makers

Top choice in Kolkata (Calcutta)

Countless clay effigies of deities and demons immersed in the Hooghly during Kolkata’s colourful pujas (offering or prayers) are created in specialist kumar (sculptor) workshops in this enthralling district, notably along Banamali Sarkar St, the lane running west from Rabindra Sarani. Craftspeople are busiest from August to October, creating straw frames, adding clay coatings, and painting divine features on idols for Durga and Kali festivals. In November old frameworks wash up on riverbanks and are often repurposed the following year.

Photography is widely allowed, and for a small tip, it's even possible to sit in at a studio and observe the idol-maker immersed in his work. Apart from gods and (vanquished) demons, you'll often see statues of Victorian figurines, mythical demons, popular historical figures and local legends being constructed, as these are often used to decorate puja pandals.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kolkata (Calcutta) attractions

1. Tagore’s House

1.05 MILES

The stately 1784 family mansion of Rabindranath Tagore has become a shrine-like museum to India’s greatest modern poet. Even if his personal effects don’t…

2. Hooghly Riverbanks

1.14 MILES

All along the Hooghly riverbanks, strung along leafy cobbled promenades, lie a number of ghats or piers, which make for an excellent outing in the early…

3. Sheetalnathji Mandir


The best known of a closely grouped trio of Jain temples, this 1867 complex is a dazzling if unrefined pastiche of colourful mosaics, spires, columns and…

4. Marble Palace

1.23 MILES

Built in 1835 by a raja from the prosperous Mallick family, this resplendent mansion is as grand as it is curious. Its marble-draped halls are overstuffed…

5. Digambar Jain Mandir

1.37 MILES

In bird-filled gardens 250m west of Belgachia metro stands the Digambar Jain Mandir, with a tall lighthouse-style tower encasing a meditating statuette…

6. Mullik Ghat Flower Market


Near the southeast end of Howrah Bridge, this flower market is fascinatingly colourful virtually 24 hours a day. However, if you visit at daybreak, you'll…

7. Howrah Bridge

1.42 MILES

Howrah Bridge is a 705m-long abstraction of shiny steel cantilevers and rivets, which serves as a carriageway of nonstop human and motorised traffic…

8. Mullik Ghat

1.47 MILES

This bathing ghat has a great sunset view of Howrah Bridge. Access from Strand Rd is along the same footbridge that leads to the flower market. It gets…