The Ganesh Festival or commonly known as Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the grandest festivals that is celebrated in many parts of the country. Nothing however comes close to the enthusiasm and the grand scale of events that takes place in Mumbai.With colours all around, beating of the drums,Ganpati chants, chaotic queues outside the pandals, the city just becomes the epicentre of all this celebration. Add to that, the creative and spectacular Ganesh Chaturthi pandals set up across the city which not only bring together people from different backgrounds but also adds a unique charm to Mumbai, a charm that is hard to find anywhere else. If we go back in time, the festival was initially introduced by the Maratha ruler ShivajiRaje in his days. However it was the freedom fighter LokmanyaTilak who provided the motivation to make this into a public event. The motive behind this was to gather people of all faiths to unite against the British rule. And it holds good even to this day. Mumbaikars regardless of their faiths participate in this celebration with equal enthusiasm.
For eleven days every year, Mumbaikars take a break from the mundane life and celebrate the festival with friends and family. The festival is marked by daily religious ceremonies, constant gorging of modaks and a particular form of street dancing that one gets to see only in Mumbai on the final day of Visarjan. Total madness.The festivities begin a good ten to twelve days in advance with the installation of Ganesha idols in the decorated and illuminated homes of people or on pandals in different localities and supported by local social groups. Every Ganpatipandal promises to offer a unique experience for all the visitors who come here to witness the grandest celebration of the elephant deity in this radiant city called Mumbai.
To help you prepare for the next Ganesh Chaturthi, here’s a list of the city’s most iconic pandals that you must visit.
Lalbaugcha Raja – Central Mumbai
The foremost Pandal on my list isLalbaugcha Raja, one of the most famousGanpatiPandals not only in Mumbai but the entire country. Also known as the NavsachaGanpati, it’s been in existence since 1934 and is managed by Raja SarvajanikGaneshotsav Mandal. It is the most visited pandal and every year massive crowd of devotees throng to get a glimpse and blessings of Lalbaugcha Raja. And not just the AamJanta, even the famous Bollywood Celebs take part in this celebration just to get a glimpse of Bappa! Undoubtedly the most popular Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai, if the sheer size of the statue doesn’t astonish you, what definitely will pump you up is the vibrant atmosphere and the devotees queuing up in the unending line roaring “LalbaugchaRajacha, Vijay Aso”.
Andheri Cha Raja – Andheri
The second on my list is yet another remarkable Ganesh idol of Azad Nagar SarvajanikUtsavSamiteeGaneshotsav Mandal located in Andheri and is popularly known as the Andhericha Raja. Like LalBaugcha Raja, even this Ganpati is believed to be ‘NavsalaPavnara’, meaning fulfiller of wishes.Established in 1966, it is also one the most revered Ganesh Mandals in Mumbai and is often frequented by celebrities. This mandal doesn’t have a towering statue like the others but is famous for its wonderful themes. It attracts a lot of spectators for their unique themes and carnival like installations. Great and grandeur!
GSB Seva Mandal – Kings Circle
GSB, GowdSaraswat Brahmin is known for getting the richest Ganesh idol in the city. And how? Well huge quantity of gold and silver is used to adorn the idol. It is also known as the ‘Gold Ganpati’ for obvious reasons. The stunning statue glittering in the festive lights is quite a sight. This makes it a must visit GanpatiPandal. The security here is always beefed up and the entire premise is heavily supervised by CCTV. This is one mandal where filmy tracks don’t get an entry as traditional beats take over.
Ganesh Galli Mumbaicha Raja – Central Mumbai
Mumbai Ganpatidarshan is incomplete without a visit to this mandal that is popularly known as Mumbaicha Raja. Located in the adjacent lane ofLalbaugcha Raja, this is one of the oldest mandals in Mumbai. Itmay have lost its popularity to Lalbaughcha Raja in the 1990’s however it still manages to pull a respectable number of crowds because of its elaborate themes of replicas of famous places in Mumbai and also for its towering idol.
Khetwadi Cha Raja – South Mumbai
The idol at this place is considered one of the most creative idols in the city. Decked with gold and diamonds, it adds the magnificent quotient to the mandal. This idol of Sarvajanik Shree Ganeshotsav Mandal was established in 1970. The lighting and grand decorations attract lakhs of devotees here every year. It’s also been credited of hosting the tallest Ganesh idol in the history of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai.
There are hundreds of other pandalsspread across Mumbai. While you pay a visit to my picks, I would suggest you to randomly explore mandaps anywhere in the city and witness yourself how the entire city comes together to participate in this grand celebration.
- Try and find hotel accommodation in South Mumbai and not in the suburbs as most of the places for tourists’ interests are in South Mumbai
- Since Ganpati is the most important festival of Mumbai, many visitors plan their visit during this time. So make sure you book your tickets in advance
- The cost of hotel accommodation in Mumbai is a bit higher than other cities so keep your budget a bit more flexible
- Local trains are the best ways to travel in Mumbai during this time to avoid any chaos