Kumartuli, potter's town in Kolkata

Kumartuli, Potter’s Town in Kolkata (2024)

Kumartuli, nestled in the heart of Kolkata, is a vibrant neighbourhood renowned as Potter’s Town. This historic locale is the creative epicentre for traditional artisans crafting intricate clay idols, especially during the revered Durga Puja festival. Discover the rich cultural heritage and artistic fervour as skilled craftsmen meticulously mould deities and other figurines, showcasing age-old techniques passed down through generations.

Immerse yourself in the bustling lanes adorned with workshops, where every corner resonates with the rhythmic hum of creativity. Experience the essence of Kolkata’s artistic soul at Kumartuli, where craftsmanship meets tradition in an enchanting tapestry of clay and culture.

Visiting and engaging with the potters in Kolkata was undeniably one of the highlights of my trip. Kumartuli, often hailed as a potter’s paradise, captivated me with its charm. Renowned for its exquisite clay sculptures, this destination is a must-visit in Kolkata.

Following the recommendation of my travel blogger companion, I ventured to Kumartuli bright and early to witness the potters in action. The streets were refreshingly devoid of tourists, allowing me to immerse myself in the sight of dedicated craftsmen honing their skills. This authentic experience truly stood out as the pinnacle of my Kolkata journey.

Clay statue for Kumartuli
Clay statue for Kumartuli

PIN for later reference – Kumartuli, Potter’s Town in Kolkata

PIN for later reference - Kumartuli, potter's town in Kolkata
PIN for later reference – Kumartuli, potter’s town in Kolkata

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About Kumartuli, Potter’s Town in Kolkata

Kumartuli, or Kumortuli, serves as Kolkata’s pottery hub, renowned for its exquisite clay pots and sculptures crafted from clay, mud, and fibre. The name “Kumartuli” derives from the Bengali term “Kumore,” loosely translating to “potter” in English. Boasting over 500 workshops, this area is the epicentre of artistic ingenuity, particularly during Kolkata’s festive seasons.

Kumartuli is the sole source of clay statues for Kolkata’s vibrant festivals. Skilled potters meticulously fashion images of gods and goddesses, revered in countless households and community pujas across the city and beyond. This dynamic locale is a testament to Kolkata’s rich cultural heritage and artistic prowess.

History of Kumartuli

The origins of Kumartuli, formerly known as Coomartolly, trace back to the era of the British East India Company. During this time, an employee named Holwell designated distinct districts for the company’s labourers. These neighbourhoods, situated within the bustling Indian quarters, adopted names reflecting the occupations of their inhabitants. Thus, Coomartolly emerged, signifying the potters’ quarters.

Potter working at Kumartuli
Potter working at Kumartuli

Since then, the potters residing along the riverbanks have persevered, continuing their craft through generations. This historical narrative encapsulates the resilience and enduring legacy of Kumartuli’s artisan community.

Process of Making the Clay Statues

One of the most captivating aspects of Kumartuli is the opportunity to stroll through its streets and witness the artisans and potters engrossed in their craft. Observing the meticulous process of creating clay statues, regarded as deeply religious, offers a profound insight into the cultural significance of this art form.

The creation of these statues involves a precise mixture of mud, soil, and cow’s urine or dung, blended using sacred tools imbued with religious symbolism. This tradition, steeped in spirituality, underscores the reverence and devotion with which each statue is crafted in Kumartuli.

Incidentally, did you know that the mud utilized for crafting clay sculptures is sourced from the depths of the River Ganga? It’s an intriguing aspect of the process. And, when these clay sculptures are eventually immersed back into the sacred waters of the Ganges, it completes a symbolic full circle, echoing the spiritual connection between the artisans, their creations, and the revered river.

Crafting clay statues involves several meticulous steps, each contributing to creating intricate and visually striking sculptures.

  • Step 1: The initial stage entails shaping a straw structure as the foundation.
  • Step 2: Clay is carefully applied by hand onto this straw framework, defining the contours and form of the sculpture.
  • Step 3: Attention to detail is paramount in the next phase, where artisans meticulously paint the statue’s features, adding depth and character.
  • Step 4: To enhance the aesthetic appeal, clay statues are adorned with garments, jewellery, and wigs, adding a touch of grandeur to the finished piece.

In addition to these steps, an exciting tradition dictates that if one wishes to create a clay statue, the soil used in conjunction with the clay must be sourced by a priest from outside the home of a professional. This custom underscores the spiritual significance of the materials and process of crafting these revered sculptures.

How to Get to Kumartuli?

Kumartuli is situated in the northern part of Kolkata, near Sovabazar and the Hooghly River, approximately 5 kilometres from the city centre.

  • By Metro – The most convenient way to reach Kumartuli is by metro. The Shobhabazar Sutanuti metro station is a mere 10-minute walk from Kumartuli. For further details, refer to the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (KMRC).
  • By Ferry – Another option is to take a ferry to BagBazar and then take a 15-minute walk to Kumartuli. Detailed information can be obtained from the Transport Department Government of West Bengal.
  • By Taxis – Opting for a taxi is the quickest mode of transportation to Kumartuli. However, it’s advisable to negotiate fares with taxi drivers beforehand. Additionally, Kolkata offers services like Uber and Ola, facilitating convenient taxi bookings via their respective apps.
  • By Tram – While trams used to operate between north Kolkata and Esplanade, recent information suggests that these services have been discontinued. Stall owners in Sovabazar have confirmed that trams are no longer operational for passenger transportation between these stops.

Best Time to Visit Kumartuli

The ideal time to explore Kumartuli is approximately 15 days before Durga Puja, typically in October each year. However, brace yourself for bustling crowds during this period, as the place garners significant attention, especially from photographers and travellers. It’s worth noting that you may encounter requests for payment to navigate the streets and capture photographs.

Kumartuli - clay statues

During my visit, I had the privilege of conversing with a skilled potter who kindly shared his contact information. He expressed willingness to provide guided tours of the workshops. Please be aware that during Durga Puja, there may be a nominal fee for such tours.

  • Potter’s Name: Samuel Pal.
  • Contact Number: +91 93319 04114.
Kumartuli streets

Is Kumartuli Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Kumartuli offers a safe environment for solo female travellers. The potters are typically focused on their craft and seldom disturb visitors. Nonetheless, as with any destination, it’s advisable to exercise caution and remain aware of your surroundings, particularly after dark.

Are you a newcomer to solo travel, or do you have queries about embarking on solo adventures? Explore our comprehensive list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about solo travel to address any concerns or uncertainties you may have.

Closing Notes

Kumartuli holds a special place in my heart. As an artist who finds joy in creating art, I sincerely appreciate all forms of artistic expression. Observing the talented artisans at work in Kumartuli was a genuinely enriching experience for me.

I spent several hours leisurely wandering through the streets, marvelling at each clay structure taking shape before my eyes. While I attempted to engage with some potters, their dedication to their craft immersed them fully in their work. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly encourage anyone visiting Kolkata to explore Kumartuli.

Have you had the opportunity to visit Kumartuli? What aspects of it did you find most captivating? I’d love to hear about your experience. Feel free to share your thoughts by reaching out to me at Solopassport@gmail.com.

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Kumartuli, Potter's Town in Kolkata (2024)
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    PIN for later reference – Kumartuli, Potter’s Town in Kolkata

    PIN for later reference - Kumartuli, potter's town in Kolkata
    PIN for later reference – Kumartuli, Potter’s Town in Kolkata