How Durga Puja Started in Delhi


This is a painting made by Keshav Venkataraghavan
In 1840 a small Kali Temple was established in Delhi’s Nigambodh Ghat and a small Durga Puja was held here.

However in 1857 this temple was destroyed and the idol lay shattered and unattended on the banks of the Yamuna till the end of the year when it was rescued by Neelmoni Brahmachari, who  was a disciple of Krishnanand. Krishnanad was a well known philanthropist and had established Kali temples in Allahabad, Meerut, Agra and Ambala, etc. He started the Puja in his house till a Railway doctor, Hemchandra Sen, came to live in the city in 1879. Hemchandra Sen then set up the  puja to a rented place in Roshanpura near Nai Sarak in 1910, making it a public event. Since resources were limited it was on a small scale and conducted in an austere manner. In 1911 a second puja was organised in NAi Sarak and in 1912 it was established in Chandni Chowk.

Much to the sorrow of the organisers an idol could not be procured from Calcutta. Eventually a Christian gentleman, Parmananda Biswas brought the idol from Kashi by boat. Henceforth it continued to come from there till in 1926 it was made in Delhi itself.

the Roshanpura temple soon became a social and cultural hub for the growing Bengali community who had shifted to Delhi in the wake of the transfer of capital by the British.

Fearing the greed of the temple priest and his son, the Bengali community wanted to break their stranglehold and claim on temple donations and land. This led to purchase of land at Tis hazari for a new temple spearheaded by Akshay Chandra Bosu, Madhab Chandra Bandopadhaya, and Ishantosh Mitra.

In 1919-20 the idol was established in Tis hazari temple with much fanfare. However, financial constraints prevented the expansion of the temple and it remained small and soon was unable to cater to the needs of the growing community. A puja started in a Dharmshala near the Fatehpuri MAsjid too.

In 1948, it was shifted to Delhi Polytechnic in Kashmere Gate from Tis Hazari. This is the oldest Durga Puja in Delhi organised by the Delhi Durga Puja Samiti.

Photograph from the Kashmiri Gate Durga Puja by Arpita Sen
In 1957, it was held at Women’s Polytechnic till 1967. The next year, the puja was shifted to Bengali Senior Secondary School on Alipur Road till date.

In 1931 on application by the community 1 acre land was allotted by the govt. on Baird Road (Bangla Sahib Road today) and  puja was organized there. This was shifted to the Temple Road, west of CP where the new KaliBari Temple stands.

Today Durga Puja is organised in many parts of Delhi with great enthusiasm and piety.



Comment List

  • Atanu Dey 01 / 10 / 2014 Reply

    Nice article. The Kashmiri gate Durga Puja is a must for all bongs – more so because they serve a reasonably authentic Kolkata biriyani in the mela ground itself.

    • Rana Safvi 01 / 10 / 2014 Reply

      Hope I can visit it too

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