Although Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated across Maharashtra with vigour, it is in capital Mumbai that the festivities become larger than life
The Lord of Success, Ganesha, is worshipped all across India, but none like in the state of Maharashtra, especially Mumbai. The Ganesh Chaturthi festival is observed from the fourth day after the new moon in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, which falls in August or September, every year. The community worship which is known as Ganesh Chaturthi was made popular by social reformer Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the late 19th century. Ganesha, is believed to be the son of Hindu gods, Shiva and Parvati, and is worshipped with much pomp and show, and the locals of Mumbai fondly call him, Ganpati-Bappa.
The iconic Lalbaugcha Raja – the King of Lalbaug, is unquestionably the most famous Ganesha idol in the ‘Maximum City.’ The community festival committee, or mandal, was founded in 1934 and has grown to be the most visited Ganpati in the city. Tens of thousands of devotees throng the pandal to seek blessings from the wish-fulfilling deity. Over the years, this much-hyped pandal has gained fame and attracted media attention with the who’s who of India Inc. and Bollywood making the beeline to offer their prayers to the lord.
Location: GD Ambedkar Road, Lalbaug (Central Mumbai).
Nearest Railway Station: Walking distance from Lower Parel, Curry Road, and Chinchpokli stations.
Waiting Time: Can be 20 hours or more in the “navas” line. The general line takes around five hours.
When to Visit: It’s open around the clock. However, the busiest time is in the evening until midnight.
The Mumbaicha Raja, located a few lanes down from the Lalbaugcha pandal in Ganesh Gali, is considered the second most popular Ganesha festival in Mumbai. Started as a community worship by mill workers in 1928, it is believed to be one of the oldest community Ganesh Chaturthi festivals in the city. Known for its lavish themes, which are usually based on famous monuments or places from across India, the pandal is a major crowd puller.
Location: Ganesh Galli (Lane), Lalbaug (Central Mumbai).
Nearest Railway Station: Chinchpokli, Curry Road, and Lower Parel railway stations are close by.
Waiting Time: Can be as little as 20 minutes, or a few hours. When to Visit: It’s always busy. Peak hours are in the afternoon and night from 3 p.m. until 2 a.m.
KHETWADI GANRAJ MANDAL
Established in 1959, the Khetwadi Ganraj Mandal rose to fame a decade back, installing the record highest Ganesha idol in the country – standing 40 feet tall in all its grandeur. Located in Girgaon
in South Mumbai, the larger-than-life idol is celebrated for wearing authentic gold jewellery.
Location: 12th Lane Kehetwadi, Girgaum (South Mumbai).
Nearest Railway Station: The nearest stations are Charni Road and Sandhurst Road.
When to Visit: It is best during the day. Peak time is in the evenings from dusk to midnight.
GSB GANESH MANDAL
Famously known as the “Gold Ganesha of Mumbai”, the GSB Ganesh Mandal is touted as the wealthiest mandal in the financial capital. Started in 1954 by Gowd Saraswat Brahmin community from Karnataka, this eco-friendly clay idol is bedecked with more than 60 kg of pure gold fineries. Located in King Circle in Central Mumbai, the celebrations are conducted in a unique South Indian tradition.
Location: GSB Sports Club Ground, Near SNDT Women’s College, R.A. Kidwai Road, King’s Circle, Matunga (Central Mumbai). Nearest Railway Station: Kings Circle on the Harbour Line and Matunga on the Central Line.
When to Visit: This Ganesh idol only stays for the first five days of the festival, so see it early.
Started by mill workers, who had moved from Lalbaug to suburban Mumbai to be close to their workplace, the Andhericha Raja is to the Mumbai suburbs what the Lalbaugcha Raja is to South and Central Mumbai. Though, not as grand or extravagant or patronised by the media or celebrities, the modest Ganesha pandal here is popular with the locals. The idol here is renowned also for fulfilling wishes and is revered as “remover of obstacles.”
Location: Vera Desai Road, Azad Nagar, AndherI (Western Mumbai suburbs). Nearest Railway Station: Andheri.
When to Visit: Evenings are the busiest; however, devotees have an extra day to see the god. The idol is the only one in Mumbai to be immersed on Sankashthi Day, which is the day after Anant Chaturdashi.