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Happy hopping, here's your pick
The idol at Nabagram Winnersí Club near Gate Bazar in Siliguri (A Telegraph picture)
The Boro Devi at the Devi Bari in Cooch Behar. Picture by Himangshu Ranjan Deb

Get ready to take in all the sites of the world '- and even beyond ' as you go pandal-hopping. From the famous Akshardham Temple to London's St Paul's Cathedral, they are all there for you. And if you have had enough of the worldly sites, hop on to a spaceship for a tour of the beyond.

Here's a peek at what some of the pandals of the town look like.

Nabagram Club

The main pandal of Nabagram Winners' Club, near St Joseph's School, Gatebazar, is a recreation of Akshardham Temple near Ahmedabad. And if that is not good enough, the garden in the pandal complex has been styled after the equally-famous Brindaban Gardens of Mysore. The interior of the pandal has been decorated with assorted items like rice, rajma, sequins and ice cream spoons.

Renaissance Club

The St Paulís Cathedral of Renaissance Club in Siliguri. Telegraph pix

For Renaissance Club, behind Siliguri Hindi High School, the 80-ft pandal is not only a thing of beauty, but a matter of pride as well. Modelled on St Paul's Cathedral, London, the interior resembles a Greek amphitheatre. It has been decorated with clay models of various animals and the pandal also has a little garden on its premises. A team from Chandannagar in Hooghly district has done the lighting.

Swastika Sangha

From the moment you walk in through the gates of the pandal of Swastika Yuwak Sangha, near Peerless Building, Hill Cart Road, you are in ET territory. The idol of Goddess Durga has been kept inside a spaceship, and for company she has visitors from outer space. The background of the spaceship details the various paraphernalia supposedly used by the visitors. To give a desi touch to the ET experience, the pandal also has Jadu, the famous character of Bollywood superhit Koi Mil Gaya. Music from the film as well as Stephen Spielberg-directed ET play in the background as you go around soaking in the experience of outer space.

Tarun Tirtha

Preparations on for a shila puja in Kalimpong. Pix: Chinlop Fudong Lepcha

Bharatnagar Tarun Tirtha Club, near the new railway underpass in Siliguri, is in mood for a mutiny. Why else would they have a Mangal Pandey to welcome visitors to their pandal' Not only the sepoy who triggered the 1857 mutiny, the club has also lined up a host of live human 'replicas' of famous persons as attractions for this year. 'This year we have put up live models of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Subhash Chandra Bose, Ramakrishna, Baba Lokenath, Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse from Calcutta to entertain visitors,' a club representative said.

Babupara Sporting

Introducing the concept of 'theme' in the border town of Naxalbari, about 30 km from Siliguri, Babupara Sporting Club, which is celebrating the 45th year of its Puja celebrations, has constructed its pandal in the shape of a 25-foot high Shivalingam. The nine rupas (forms) of Durga have been housed inside the pandal, where the audience are being taken on a trip of the solar system with the help of a light-and-sound show. 'The idol has been brought from Kumartuli,' Subhash Chattopadhyay, the artisan looking after the concept and designing of the Puja set, said.

Tarun Dal

Durga with an extra-terrestrial at Swastika Sangha. Telegraph pix

Lighting by experts from Chandannagar and a replica of the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur constitute the USP of Jalpaiguri's Tarun Dal. The 34 tomb like pillars of the 80-ft long pandal is an added attraction.

Aurobinda Club

The theme of Aurobinda Pathagar & Club's pandal in the Mashkalaibari area of Jalpaiguri is the relentless effort of man to overcome natural disasters. The idol of Goddess Durga stands in the backdrop of the tsunami aftermath ' drawn on canvas ' with statues of devotees thronging to worship her after the disaster that claimed so many lives.

Mohitnagar Club

Mohitnagar Club and Pathagar has used gunny bags, jute, earth and straw as raw material for its indoor decoration this year. While the pandal in Jalpaiguri is a replica of a Buddhist monastery, the idol, organisers claim, has been made by an artisan from Calcutta's Kumartuli.

Pandapara

The Pandapara Sarbojonin Durgotshab Committee of Jalpaiguri has made Devi Durga sit on the judge's chair in a court where the trial of Mahisasur is on. The pandal, however, is a look alike of Dhaka High Court.

Babupara Club

A plastic Disneyland ' that is what Babupara Club of Alipurduar has made. The credit for it, however, goes to Asit Khashnabish, a retired West Bengal Civil Service officer based in Siliguri, who has used moveable plastic balls for the project. The balls are not fixed and 'dances' to the 'sound of music', the organisers say.

Royal legacy

Puja committees might vie with each other for their theme-pandals and innovative idols, but the toast of Cooch Behar town is the one begun by the Maharajas more than 500 years ago at Devi Bari. Borodevi, as she is reverentially called, comes without her divine children and is flanked by Jaya and Bijoya, her two companions. The goddess comes astride both a lion and a tiger.

Shantikutir Club

The Shanti Bharati Parishad Puja in Malda. Pix: Surajit Roy

In its 40th year, the Shantikutir Club and Bayamgar of Cooch Behar, commemorates the 50 years of Pather Panchali, the Satyajit Ray classic. Nischindapur, immortalised by the movie, has been recreated here along with the famous scene of Apu and Durga watching the train passing by their village.

Shivaji Sangha

In Malda, Shivaji Sangha at Buroburotola has roped in brass makers from Nadia to create a temple with the alloy. The same organisers have also turned to electricians from Chandannagar who have lighted up characters like Tintin and Harry Potter.

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