A deluge of people swept through the streets of south Kolkata well past midnight on Monday in between short spells of rain.
Streets in north Kolkata were comparatively less crowded, said police officers who were managing the crowd and traffic.
On Navami, the crowd started to build from the evening and officers expected a heavy turnout on the last day of Puja.
There were around 25,000 people inside the pandal of Tridhara Samillani and on the road leading to the pandal just before it started to rain around 2am on Tuesday, a police officer said. The crowd count had been like this since 7pm on Monday.
There were about 10,000 people inside the pandal on the approach road leading to the pandal of Suruchi Sangha in New Alipore at midnight on Monday, said an assistant commissioner of police.
Here too, the crowd count had been like this since Monday evening.
At the Rashbehari crossing, there were about 4,500 people trying to cross the road around midnight on Monday, added the officer.
“Tridhara Sammilani was the epicentre of the crowding in and around Rashbehari Avenue from Ashtami evening till the spell of rain around 2am on Tuesday. Some of the crowd also visited Ballygunge Cultural Association on the other side of Rashbehari Avenue,” said the officer.
There was some problem in crowd management at the Rashbehari crossing following the rain, as the Metro authorities shut down and opened the shutters to enter the Kalighat Metro station alternatively as the crowd inside swelled beyond holding capacity.
The ripple effect was felt on the streets and people could not move ahead.
On Ashtami evening, a 150m drive from Palit Street to Rashbehari Avenue took over 20 minutes. “The Google Maps route was blue, yellow and dots of red for a journey from north to south Kolkata. This stretch was mostly red and some yellow,” said a Shyambazar resident.
In contrast, the streets around Sovabazar had far less crowd. The crowd on Chittaranjan Avenue was also less than on Saptami, when police officers said north Kolkata witnessed a bigger turnout.
The roads in parts of east Kolkata were also comparatively less crowded on Ashtami night.
A New Alipore resident went to a hotel near the airport for an Ashtami dinner. The 26km distance was covered in 90 minutes flat. “I left home much earlier expecting a huge rush. But traffic was quite smooth,” she said.
The crowd had started to build from Tuesday (Navami) afternoon.
On Navami afternoon, a drive from Behala to Ruby intersection took an hour, around 35 minutes of which were spent between Chetla and Lake Market. “Despite heavy deployment of police, vehicles were crawling,” said a resident of Behala Chowrasta.
Police officers said they were expecting a huge turnout from Tuesday evening that could continue till dawn on Wednesday.
“Everyone wants to make the most on the last day of Puja. We expect a huge turnout from Tuesday late evening. I think the crowd will be on the streets like 4.30am or 5am on Wednesday,” said a police officer.