“Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya.” This chant resonates throughout India, particularly in Maharashtra, during the ten-day Ganesh Pandals festival. The translation of this slogan is “Salutations to Ganapati (Ganesha), Let the next year come soon.” While Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated across India, the prominence of Ganesh pandals is particularly notable in Maharashtra. Before we explore the top Ganesh Chaturthi pandals across India, let’s provide a brief introduction to the festival.
Many people mistakenly believe that Ganesh Chaturthi is exclusive to Maharashtra, but it is, in fact, a pan-India festival. While it is known as Ganesh Chaturthi in many parts of India, it is referred to as Vinayagar Chaturthi in Tamil Nadu and other southern states.
The festival falls on the fourth day (Chaturthi Tithi) of the bright half of the Bhadrapada month. It spans ten days, concluding with the immersion (Visarjan) of the Ganesha idol on Ananta Chaturdashi (the 14th day of the bright half of the Bhadrapada month). While people celebrate the festival at home, Maharashtra observes it publicly by erecting giant-sized Ganapati idols in pandals, hence it is known as Sarvajanik Ganshotsav. Now, let’s proceed to discuss the top ten Ganesh Chaturthi pandals across India.
Lalbaugchya Raja – Lalbaug, Mumbai:
Lalbaugchya Raja has been a dominant presence in Mumbai for over 85 years, originating during British rule. Located in Lalbaug, Mumbai, this pandal is one of the most ornate in the city, attracting an average daily footfall of approximately 15 lakhs during the ten-day festival. Legend has it that Lalbaugchya Raja fulfills the wishes of devotees who pray with unwavering dedication.
Dagadusheth Halwai – Pune:
The Dagadusheth Halwai Ganeshotsav is one of India’s oldest Sarvajanik pandals, with celebrations dating back to 1896. Named after Dagadusheth Halwai, a sweetmeat merchant from Karnataka who settled in Pune, this pandal boasts the reputation of having the most expensive Ganesh idol in the country, with reports suggesting it is insured for nearly a crore rupees.
Mumbaicha Raja – Ganesh Galli, Lalbaug, Mumbai:
During the ten days of Ganesh Sarvajanik Utsav, all roads in Mumbai lead to Ganesh Galli in Lalbaug. This pandal is renowned for its classical idols, which convey social messages each year. It holds the distinction of being the oldest pandal in Mumbai, established in 1928 by mill workers in Lalbaug.
Khairtabad Ganesh Pandal – Hyderabad:
Hyderabad enthusiastically celebrates Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav, with Khairtabad Ganesh Pandal traditionally being the largest in the city. This year’s idol stands nearly 100 feet tall and costs up to Rs 1 crore. Crafted from clay sourced from Rajasthan and painted with organic colors, it is a sight to behold.
Kasba Ganpati – Pune:
Kasba Ganpati’s history dates back to the time of Shivaji Maharaj, with Jijamata, Shivaji’s mother, building this temple. Though primarily a Ganesha temple, it celebrates a Sarvajanik pandal annually. Lokmanya Tilak initiated the Ganesha Sarvajanik festivals in Pune at Kasba Ganpati, and its idol has consistently ranked among the best in India.
Girgaumchya Raja – Girgaum, Mumbai:
Khetwadi and Girgaum are business districts with predominant Gujarati and Marwari populations. Despite this, these communities unite with Maharashtrians to celebrate the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav each year. These pandals feature unique themes and aesthetically designed idols, with Girgaumchya Raja rightfully claiming the title of the King of Girgaum.
GSB Seva Mandal Ganpati –
Kings Circle, Mumbai: GSB Ganpati has consistently held the title of the wealthiest Ganesh idol in India. This year, the idol is adorned with gold, silver, and precious stones, and it is installed in Kings Circle, a suburb heavily populated by South Indians and Gujaratis. Interestingly, this Sarvajanik Ganesh idol is installed for five days instead of ten, with immersion taking place on the fifth day of the festival.
Dharampeth Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav, Nagpur:
Nagpur has been celebrating Sarvajanik Ganesh festivals for nearly 60 years. While the pandals and idols may not be as grand as those in Pune and Mumbai, Dharampeth Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav is the largest pandal in Nagpur. This year’s Ganesha idol is innovative, comprised of various smaller idols forming a larger statue.
Nashik Cha Raja, Nashik:
Nashik, an industrial city in Maharashtra, has hosted Ganeshotsav pandals for many years. Although not as grand as Pune or Mumbai, Nashik Cha Raja holds a special place as the best Ganesh Chaturthi pandal in Nashik, located at Ghankar Lane, Ashok Stambh. The idol is worshipped for ten days before immersion on the festival’s tenth day.
Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav, Panjim, Goa:
Goa, similar to Maharashtra, has a significant Marathi population, making Ganesh Chaturthi a popular festival. While the pandals may not be as massive as those in Maharashtra, the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav in Panjim allows public access to Ganesha idols, with daily Puja and Aarti conducted during the ten-day celebration. Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav pandals can also be found in Margao and Mapusa.
In conclusion, Ganeshotsav is one of India’s most celebrated festivals, with pandals attracting an enormous influx of devotees during the ten-day celebration. The primary goal of celebrating these festivals on a grand scale is to promote unity among people of different faiths and castes. During this time, people set aside their differences and come together to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi.