Mumbai's Ganesh idols and themes for the Ganesh Chaturthi festival are legendary. Many of them are based on current issues or have a social message. Here are five of the most famous ones and how to see them.
The Lalbaugcha Raja, King of Lalbaug, is undoubtedly the most famous Ganesh statue in Mumbai. The mandal was founded in 1934, and has grown to be the most visited one in the city. The Kambli family, of Kambli Arts, has been making 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 -- astonishing! People simply believe that this Ganesh idol can fulfill 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 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 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).
- Location: Putlabai Chawl, next to Lalbaug Police Station in Lalbaug market (central Mumbai).
- Nearest Railway Station: Lower Parel Station on the Western Line and Curry Road Station on Central Line for the Navas Darshan. Chinchpokali, Byculla, or Cotton Green station for the Mukh Darshan.
- Waiting Time: 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.
- When to Visit: It's open around the clock. However, the busiest time is in the evening until midnight.
- 2019 Theme: Chandrayaan 2 and the exploration of space. The set will have galaxy, spaceship, and moving astronauts.
The procession for the immersion (visarjan) starts out 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.
More information is available from the Lalbaugcha Raja website.
Ganesh Galli Mumbaicha Raja
The Mumbaicha Raja, in Ganesh Galli (Lane), is located only a couple of lanes away from the Lalbaugcha Raja and is also very popular. It lost its shine to the Lalbaugcha Raja in the late 1990s but still pulls in the crowds.
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 the mill workers in 1928, making it the oldest one in the area. Importantly, the use of Plaster of Paris has been reduced to prevent pollution.
- 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.
- 2019 Theme: A replica of the proposed Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Lord Ganesh appears as an avatar of Lord Ram.
The procession for the immersion (visarjan) on the last day of the festival starts out 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 Collage, Girgaum Chowpatty. The immersion is completed by 8.30 p.m. on the same day.
More information is available from the Mumbaicha Raja website.
The award-winning Khetwadicha Ganraj 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!
- Location: 12th Lane Kehetwadi, Girgaum (south Mumbai).
- Nearest Railway Station: The nearest stations are Charni Road and Sandhurst Road.
- When to Visit: During the day is best. Peak time is in the evenings from dusk to midnight.
- 2019 Theme: To be announced.
More information is available from the Khetwadi Ganraj website.
GSB Seva Kings Circle
The GSB Seva Ganesh mandal 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 mandal is that it has an elevated walkway set up to aid viewing of the idol.
- Location: G.S.B. Sports Club Ground, Near S.N.D.T. 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 before September 6.
More information is available from the GSB Seva Mandal website.
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.
- Location: Veera Desai Road, Azad Nagar, Andheri West (western Mumbai suburbs).
- Nearest Railway Station: Andheri.
- When to Visit: Evenings are busiest, however devotees have some extra time to see the God. 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.
- 2019 Theme: Shree Mahakaleshwar Shikhar temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. The replica of the temple has a finely sculptured spire and brass lamps leading the way to the inner sanctum. The statue of Lord Ganesh has been dressed by US-based designer Sai Suman. It wears a magenta shawl with golden handwork, blue satin dhoti, and real gold crown. On the first day of the festival it will also be adorned with a 24-carat gold brooch.
The procession for the immersion will start out at 5 p.m. on Sankashti Chaturthi (September 17, 2019) and follow 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. The immersion will happen late morning on September 18, 2019.
Further information is available from the Andhericha Raja website.