By: Urusha Mhatre

Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a popular Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the elephant-headed god Ganesha. It falls on the fourth day of the Hindu month Bhadrapada, usually in August or September. This year this festival will begin on 2nd September. The festival generally lasts 10 days, ending on the fourteenth day of the fortnight (Anant Chaturdashi). Ganesh Chaturthi festival is celebrated throughout India with great devotion. The festival is celebrated by families at home, by people at their places of work and in public. The public celebration involves installing clay images of Ganesha in public pandals and group worship. The seven to ten days long festival ends with the ‘Ganesh Visarjan’ where the idols are immersed in the water; it is done as a procession with millions of people accompanying the idol along with music and dance.

1. Mumbai

The passion and excitement with which Ganesh Utsav is celebrated in Mumbai remains unmatched. During Ganpati, the festive spirit takes over with the sounds of beating dhols and chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya echoing across the entire city. As the 10-day long festival unfolds in the city of dreams, life as you know it seems to pause. If you happen to be in the city during Ganesh Utsav, here are the best pandals in Mumbai you should visit.

• Lalbaughcha Raja – Lalbaugcha Raja is one of the most famous and revered Ganpati Darshans of the country. It draws an impressive crowd of believers every year.

• G.S.B Seva Mandal – This Ganpati pandal is believed to be richest mandal in the city. This year, the mandal has got an insurance cover worth Rs 300 crore for the idol adorned with 68kg of gold and 315kg of silver.

2. PUNE

Being the presiding deity of Pune, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the grandest of manners. The community-wide Ganesh Festival or Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav originated in Pune under the tutelage of Lokmanya Tilak. One of the most culturally significant and the go to place for all Punekars is Dagduseth Halwai Ganpati Temple. Other must visit destinations during Ganesh Chaturthi include ,Shri Kasba Ganpati Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Tambdi Jogeshwari Ganapati Mandal, Guruji Talim Ganpati, Tulshi Baug Ganpati Mandal, Kesariwada Ganeshotsav Trust, and Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Trust are the most famous.

3. Bangalore

Being the IT hub of India it is no surprise that Bengaluru has pandals with names like Techie Ganesha and Power Ganesha Temple. Yet there is one place which is the meeting point for all the people in Bengaluru. It is Bengaluru Ganesha Utsav, Basavanagudi. Basavanagudi sees a huge gathering of devotees during the festival and this is one place you should not miss if you are in Bengaluru during Ganesh Chaturthi Festivals. There are live concerts and cultural programs here and the place is bustling with art and culture in tow.

4. Hyderabad

If Mumbai has Lalbaugcha Raja then Hyderabad has Khairatabad Ganesh. This idol is 60 feet high and is a standing idol of the deity. There is one speciality of this idol. Every year the prasad that is prepared for the lord weighs more than 500 kgs. Even this year the laddu made as prasad weighs 580 kgs and is placed on the left hand of the deity. Ever seen a laddu that big?

5. Guwahati

Though Ganesh Chaturthi is not the state festival in North East India, it is celebrated with great gusto there too. In Guwahati, the believers head to the Ganesh Guri Ganesh Mandir where all the festivities take place. Experiencing this festival in North East India has a different zeal to it. Not any know how it is celebrated and how do people go about it. So if you want to see something different then head to Guwahati. The above reason and places to see in India during Ganesh Chaturthi should be enough to make your bags right away and set out on a festive tour of this vibrant country. Do let us know which place you found the best to be during the festival.

6. Goa

Goa, the smallest state, is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India. Renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture. The Ganesh festival is one of the most widely celebrated Hindu festivals all over India and holds a special place in the hearts of Goan people. It is an occasion of fun and frolic, a time of cleaning and decorating the place of worship of the elephant headed God. More importantly, it brings about a reunion of family and friends, exchanging gifts and overall rejoicing to celebrate the birth of Lord Ganesha. There are various idols of Lord Ganesh in different shapes and sizes well adorned and installed in heavily decorated pandals by various merchant associations and other groups in different parts of Goa. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi holds a special significance in Mapusa, which is famous for its Temples at Ganeshpuri and Khandola. Marcela is also one of the villages where this festival is celebrated the most as it is a village known for its wide number of Hindu temples. The artisans from the village are engaged in making many different idols of Lord Ganesh, with varied ideas springing in their creative minds. There are idols made of Arecanut, Coconut, Cane and Bamboo in this village. All over these festival days, there are hordes of devotees from different religions besides Hindus, scurrying at these places to worship and pay obeisance to the most loved God of Wisdom.

7. Ganpatipule

Ganpatipule is a small town located in Ratnagiri district on the Konkan coast of Maharashtra. It has a series of beaches and vantage points offering some stunning views of the sea. The 400 years old Swayambhu Ganpati Temple, on the Ganapatipule beach itself is the primary attraction in Ganapatipule that draws thousands of pilgrims every year and is the must include in Ganpatipule Tour Packages. The Swayambhu Ganapati Temple of Ganapatipule is known for its unique idol of Ganapati built on pule (white sand). It is believed to have originated by itself (swayambhu). It is one of the Ashta Ganapati temples of India and is known as Paschim Dwar Dewata. The idol of Ganapati here is made out of copper and depicts the God astride a lion. It is placed in the Sanctum Sanctorum and at sunrise and sunset a shaft of golden light penetrates and illuminates the idol. The Temple of Ganapatipule becomes the center of grand activity for the 10 day celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi when villager’s and pilgrims join actively in a procession honoring Ganapati. A taller idol is placed in an ornate palanquin and carried on the shoulders of the devotees through the village accompanied by a priest and a drummer. This festival is marked by vibrant celebrations, prayers and feasting.