Pandal-hopping: Sneak peek of Mumbai’s 10 must-visit Ganesh mandals | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Pandal-hopping: Sneak peek of Mumbai’s 10 must-visit Ganesh mandals

Months of arduous labour and fine skills of thousands of artists, sculptors and decorators will be on display for the next 11 days. With larger-than-life idols and magnificent pandals lighting up Mumbai, the popular themes this year are environment, mythology and popular culture.

mumbai Updated: Sep 16, 2015 21:15 IST
Devotees carry Ganesh idol ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)
Devotees carry Ganesh idol ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

The wait’s finally over. Ganeshotsav begins on Thursday, enlivening the already vibrant spirit of Mumbai.

Months of arduous labour and fine skills of thousands of artists, sculptors and decorators will be on display for the next 11 days. With larger-than-life idols and magnificent pandals lighting up Mumbai, the popular themes this year are environment, mythology and popular culture.

As Mumbai commemorates the homecoming of its favourite deity, here is our list of must-visit pandals:

1) Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, Ganesh Galli

Mumbaicharaja, the oldest mandal in the area, has housed the idol in a setting that resembles the Bajrangbali temple in Gujarat’s Sarangpur. “The 22-foot deity is wearing a five-kg gold necklace and the hands and feet are sculpted from three kg of gold. The rest of the idol is made with plaster of Paris (PoP),” said Swapnil Parab, secretary, Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal.

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The ancient Bajrangbali temple in Gujarat’s Sarangpur has been replicated. (Kalpak Pathak/HT photo)

Legacy: In its 88th year

What’s special: The ancient Bajrangbali temple in Gujarat’s Sarangpur has been replicated

Location: Ganesh Galli, Lalbaug

Nearest railway stations: Western line: Lower Parel; Central line: Currey Road; Harbour Line: Sewri

Best time to visit: Any time during the day

Tickets: Can be bought online from www.ganeshgalli.com


2) Lalbaugcharaja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Lalbaug

When Peru Chawl was shut down in 1932, fishermen and vendors who were ousted from their marketplace prayed for a permanent place to set up their wares. They vowed to organise a Ganesh festival if their wish came true. After sustained efforts by local leaders and residents, the landlord agreed to give them a plot, which is the present-day Lalbaug market. Devotees believe Lalbaugcharaja grants wishes and the mandal attracts thousands of visitors.

Legacy: In its 82nd year

What’s special: The pandal is designed as a sheesh mahal (glass palace). "The idea is for the idol to be reflected from every corner of the pandal to project the larger-than-life image of Lord Ganesha," said mandal president Ashok Pawar

Location: Lalbaug market, GD Goenka Road

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The pandal is designed as a sheesh mahal (glass palace). (Satish Bate/HT photo)

Nearest stations: Western line: Lower Parel; Harbour line: Cotton Green; Central line: Currey Road

Best time to visit: Anytime during the day


3) Keshavji Naik Chawl Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Girgaum

Besides being the oldest in the city, the mandal is also one of the few that has not missed celebrating the festival even once. Apart from its centenary year, the celebrations have always been low key. “This year, we have used handmade paper for the idol and have tried our best to celebrate the festival in a simple and eco-friendly way,” said Jitendra Chothe, secretary of the mandal. “We are concentrating more on rituals rather than making the procession fancy,” he said.

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(Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

Legacy: In its 123rd year

Location: Keshavji Naik Chawl, Girgaum

Nearest stations: Western line: Charni Road

Best time to visit: Any time during the day


4) Kamat Chawl Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Thakurdwar

This mandal was founded way back in 1896 at Kamat Chawl, known for playing a part in the freedom movement. The pandal is known for its cultural activities, including theatre and folk dances. This year, the idol is surrounded by flower arrangements. "The best thing about this mandal is that it has been founded by the people and for the people. The boys from the mandal do everything – starting from lighting, installation to dismantling the pandal," said secretary Ramchandra Bhagvat

Legacy: In its 119th year

Location: Kamat Chawl, Thakurdwar

Nearest stations: Western line: Charni Road

Best time to visit: Any time during the day


5) Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samiti, Andheri

Andhericharaja is to the suburbs, what Lalbaugcharaja is to south Mumbai. The mandal is celebrating its golden jubilee this year, and the pandal has been designed by Andheri resident Dharmesh Shah as a replica of Ambaji Mata temple, located 185 kms from Ahmedabad. “We have used fibre to make the temple, which is reusable. The set can be used for other functions as well,” said Subodh Chitnis, treasurer of the mandal.

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Andhericharaja is to the suburbs, what Lalbaugcharaja is to south Mumbai. (Satish Bate/HT Photo)

A gold crown and a giant laddoo are attractions this year. The 8.5-feet-idol made with PoP will be immersed on the day of Sankashti, five days after Anant Chaturdashi on October 1. Chitnis added that a designer from New York, Sai Suman, has been roped in to design the 16 different costumes for 16 days for the idol. Like last year, the pandal would have a free WiFi zone with 4G connectivity for all devotees.

Legacy: In its 50th year

What’s special: The pandal is designed as a replica of Ambaji Mata in Gujarat

Location: Veera Desai Road, Azad Nagar, Andheri (West)

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The pandal is designed as a replica of Ambaji Mata in Gujarat. (Satish Bate/HT photo)

Nearest stations: Andheri

Best time to visit: 5am to 4pm

Rules: Organisers have a dress code — clothes above knee-length will not be allowed.


6) Goud Saraswat Brahmin Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti, Wadala

This is one of the richest mandals in the city and has an idol studded with gold on the hands and legs. Their pandals are also lavishly decorated. This year, the idol is made of sand. “Ganesha’s splendour gets better each year. We make sure the maha-puja prasad is distributed among everyone who comes for darshan,” said trustee secretary Ulhas Kamat.

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This year, the idol at GSB mandal is made of sand. (Kalpak Pathak/HT photo)

Legacy: In its 61st year

What’s special: Idol made from sand and studded with gold on hands and legs and decorated with diamonds

Location: Dwarkanath Bhavan, Katrak Road, Wadala

Nearest stations: Harbour line: Wadala

When to visit: Any time in the day


7) Fort Vibhag Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal Circle, Fort

At Fortcha Icchapurti, or wish fulfilling Ganesha, the show is run by Ravi Surve, a businessman and an ardent devotee. This year, the mandal features 42 Ganesha idols as found in temples in the country and 18 countries across the world including London, Australia, Paris, Rome, Bangkok, Cambodia and Japan. “This year, Lord Ganesha can be worshipped in many forms, which will leave the people spellbound,” said Ravi Surve, the organiser of the mandal who has been working on this concept for the past two years.

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The pandal depicts a palace and will display 42 Ganesha idols. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

Legacy: In its 60th year

Location: Near CST railway station

Nearest stations: Western line: Churchgate; Central line: CST

What’s special: The pandal depicts a palace and will display 42 Ganesha idols

Best time to visit: Any time during the day


8) Sahyadri Krida Mandal, Chembur

The pandal has been designed as a tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji and a huge set has been replicating the palace of the Maratha king. In its 40th year now, Sahyadri Krida Mandal has, in the past, created replicas of the Kali temple in Dakshineshwar, the ghats along the Ganges in Varanasi and the Vithala temple in Hampi. “Our pandals attract people from all faiths. The grand palace of Shivaji Maharaj is the attraction this year,” said Rahul Walanj, mandal president.

Legacy: In its 40th year

What’s special: The pandal set is a replica of Shivaji Maharaj’s palace

Location: Tilak Nagar, Chembur

Nearest station: Central line: Vidyavihar; harbour line: Tilak Nagar

Best time to visit: Between 3pm and midnight


9) Khetwadi’s Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal

Also known as Khetwadicharaja, this mandal and their idols have won several awards. This year, the 15-foot-high idol is adorned with precious stones. “We have ensured the pandal is continuous monitoring by installing CCTV cameras,” said Shankar Harale, secretary of the mandal. The pandal attracts up to 60,000 devotees every day.

Legacy: In its 57th year

What’s special: 15-foot-high idol adorned with diamonds

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This mandal and their idols have won several awards. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

Location: 12th Lane Khetwadi, Girgaum

Nearest stations: Western line: Charni Road; Central line: Sandhurst Road

Best time to visit: Any time during the day


10) Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) Seva Mandal, King’s Circle

The richest mandal, known for its golden Ganesha, will be under the surveillance of 48 CCTV cameras 24X7. “One of these cameras will relay real-time footage to the Matunga police station,” said Satish Nayak, a trustee. Celebrated for five days, this year the idol has been made from shadu clay and the hands, feet and ears are made of gold. However this year, the mandal will not make any offerings in gold or silver to the deity in light of the appeal made by chief minister to cut down unnecessary expenses keeping in mind the situation of drought-hit farmers in the state. “This year, the idol is 14-feet-high but we do not have a theme and will keep it simple. All traditions and rituals will be followed strictly,” said Nayak.

Legacy: In its 61st year

What’s special: The 14-foot idol is made from shadu clay and the hands, feet and ears are made of gold

Location: GSB Sports Club Ground, Near SNDT Women’s College, King’s Circle, Matunga

Nearest stations: Harbour line: King’s Circle; Central and western line: Matunga

Best time to visit: 6am to 11pm