Every year in either August or September, Hindus celebrate the birthday of Ganesh, the elephant-headed God, during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. During the festival, many worshippers in Mumbai make a point to visit some of the city’s most popular idols, some of which even draw over one million people per day. The lines and crowds during the festival can be very long and difficult to navigate, so read up on what to expect ahead of time if you plan to experience this.
1. Lalbaugcha Raja:
The Lalbaugcha Raja the King of Lalbaug, is undoubtedly the most famous Ganesh statue in Mumbai, and the most visited one. The Mandal (organizing group) was formed in 1934 and the Kambli family, of Kambli Arts, has been earning the idol since 1935. Its legendary design is now patent-protected. If you want to see the lengths people are prepared to go to for devotion, the Lalbaugcha Raja is the idol to visit. It draws an average of 1.5 million people a day! People believe that this Ganesh idol fulfils their wishes, and there’s a lot of media attention on it.
There are two main lines to see the idol: a general Mukh Darshan line, and a special Navas Charan Sparsh Darshan line for those wanting to make a vow or get a wish fulfilled (navas) and touch the idol’s feet. The Navas Darshan line takes devotees right to the idol’s feet, whereas the Mukh Darshan line offers viewing (darshan) from a distance of around 10 meters away.
The line for the Mukh Darshan typically approaches the idol from Garam Khada Maidan, and runs along Doctor B. Ambedkar Road, Dattaram Lad Marg, TB Kadam Marg, and Rani Baug. The Navas Darshan line forms along G.D. Ambekar Marg and Dinshaw Petit Marg (Ambewadi). It’s located in Putlabai Chawl, next to Lalbaug Police Station in the Lalbaug market in Central Mumbai.
Although the Navas Darshan line is better managed these days, you can still expect to wait up to 15 hours (or more) depending on when you go. Wait times of seven to 10 hours can be expected in the Mukh Darshan line when it’s busy. Otherwise, it’s an hour or two. It’s open around the clock. However, the busiest time is in the evening until midnight.
The procession for the immersion (visarjan) typically starts at 10 a.m. from the Lalbaug market on the final day of the festival and takes the following route: Bharat Mata Theater, Sane Guruji Marg, Byculla Railway Station, Clare Road, Nagpada, Dunkan Road, Don Taki, Sant Sena Maharaj Marg (Kumbharwada), Suthar Gully, Madhav Baug, C.P. Tank, V.P. Road, Opera House, Girgaum Chowpatty. The immersion happens at 8 a.m. the next morning, using a special raft
2. Ganesh Galli Mumbaicha Raja:
The Mumbaicha Raja, in Ganesh Galli (Lane), is only a couple of lanes away from the Lalbaugcha Raja and also very popular. The Mandal is well known for its novel new themes every year, often a replica of a famous place in India. It was formed for the benefit of workers in 1928, making it the oldest idol in the area. Importantly, the use of Plaster of Paris has been reduced to prevent pollution. The wait can be as little as 20 minutes, or a few hours and peak hours are in the afternoon and night from 3 p.m until 2 a.m.
The procession for the immersion (visarjan) on the last day of the festival typically starts from 8 a.m. and takes the following route: Dr S.S Rao Road, Ganesh Cinema, Chinchpokli Bridge, Arthur Road Corner, Saat Rasta, Sane Guruji Marg, Agreepada, Dr Bhadkamkar Marg, Opera House, Wilson College, Girgaum Chowpatty. The immersion is completed by 8.30 p.m. on the same day
3. Khetwadicha Ganraj:
The award-winning Khetwadicha Raja is considered to be one of the most spectacular Ganesh idols in Mumbai. The mandal was established in 1959 but found fame in 2000, when it made the highest Ganesh idol in Indian history, standing 40 feet tall. The idol is decked out in real gold jewelry and adorned with diamonds.
An added attraction when visiting the Khetwadi Ganraj is that there’s a Ganesh idol in almost every lane in the area—so you’ll have plenty to see! It’s best to visit during the day because peak time tends to be in the evening from dusk to midnight.
4. GSB Seva Kings Circle:
The idol of GSB Seva Kings Circle is affectionately known as Mumbai’s gold Ganesh. Yes, that’s pure gold it’s adorned with—more than 60 kilograms of it! The mandal, often stated to be the richest in the city, was founded by the Gowd Saraswat Brahmin community from Karnataka in 1954. They’ve prospered in Mumbai, and as a mark of respect to the city, they conduct various social programs along with a grand celebration of the Ganesh festival.
The idol is always an eco-friendly one, made out of clay. The Mandal is also distinctive because there’s none of the usual recorded music there. Instead, traditional Indian musical instruments used in south Indian temples are played. A convenient aspect of this manual is that it has an elevated walkway set up to aid viewing of the idol. This Ganesh idol only stays for the first five days of the festival, so try to see it as early as you can.
5. Andhericha Raja:
The Andhericha Raja is to the Mumbai suburbs what the Lalbaugcha Raja is to south Mumbai. The mandal was established in 1966 by the workers of the Tobacco company, Tata Special Steel and Excel Industries Ltd, who moved from Lalbaug to be closer to their factories.
Compared to many other famous mandals in Mumbai, the idol isn’t as towering or imposing. However, it has a reputation for fulfilling wishes. The mandal’s theme is usually a replica of a significant temple in India. The idol is the only one in Mumbai to be immersed on Sankashti Chaturthi, which is about five days after Anant Chaturdashi (the last day of the festival when large idols are commonly immersed). Dress conservatively with legs covered or you won’t be allowed in.
The procession for the immersion typically starts at 5 p.m. on Sankashti Chaturthi and follows this route: Azad Nagar II, Veera Desai Road, J P Road Amboli, S V Road, Andheri Market, Navrang Cinema, Sony Mony, Apna Bazar, Indian Oil Nagar Junction, Four Bungalows, Seven Bungalows, Versova Bus Depot, and finally to Versova village. It takes about 20 hours
So What are you waiting for? Book online darshan & make your ganesh Chaturthi memorable!