Maharashtra – a state with vivid hues and myriad of colors, it brims with hospitality and experiences that are memorable.
When I got an invite to witness the International Ganpati festival, I was more than elated. The city is the main hub of celebrating the welcome of Lord Ganesha; for ten days the festivities continue with pandals decorated to celebrate his presence. Devotees sing and dance, modaks are served as prashads and all over the state, and there is a reverence for Lord Ganesha.
My experience with Maharashtra Tourism –
As we touched down the Mumbai International Mumbai airport, I could not hold back my excitement to experience the sheer magic of Mumbai’s most celebrated festival.
The team from Maharashtra tourism and Thomas cook welcomed us at the airport and escorted us to the bus which then moved towards our first halt for breakfast. A traditional welcome with dhol and bigul was all set up to begin the festivities and welcome us. My heart started racing and I couldn’t stop myself from dancing to the tunes of the electrifying music. I could instantly feel the connection and the warm vibe of Maharashtra, welcoming lord Ganesha.
After a hearty authentic breakfast, we boarded the bus that had representatives waiting to take us on to the next destination – Palghar.
The Bus, equipped with all essentials had tour representatives to guide us and help us with the itenary. A passport was handed to us with my initials and a boarding pass to Palghar. I loved the creativity and personalized attention.
Please also read : A detailed blog on Palghar
Distance from Mumbai – 2.5 hours
Palghar, a lesser known tribal village is home to scenic views of waterfalls, lakes, clean beaches, delectable cuisine, local culture and worth visiting temples.
Palghar is approximately 2.5 hours from Mumbai. The road is smooth and free from traffic overload. What is worth appreciating is the scenic beauty that is worth admiring on the way. With the downpour, the leaves of trees glistened and gleamed making it look even more alluring. After a beautiful scenic drive, we reached the Fern Hotel – located on the highway with beautiful rooms and a grand lobby. The hotel boasts of its location and picturesque views from rooms. A warm welcome and a smooth check-in later, we retired to our rooms and relaxed for some time.
1.Pandal Visit in district Palghar
We visited a famous temple in the district, followed by a house visit to see the pandal decoration of Mr. Tiwari, our host from Palghar. His house and family was as welcoming as the Maharashtra tourism. Lord Ganpati was placed in a beautiful pandal. We were awe-struck with the fabulous decorum and the charming hospitality of the family. We chanted bhajans with the family, devoured Prasad and bowed with reverence in front of Ganpati. It was a delight to see how locals were welcoming Ganpati in their homes with so much enthusiasm.
Later, we went for a nice Maharashtra meal that comprised of Bhaji like val, mugachi usal, ananas aamti, val vanga shegvachya, roti, dal, rice, salad, papads. I haven’t come across such indegenious flavors bursting with aroma and so delicious to taste.
Mumbai was our next destination, where we witnessed a grand celebration of Ganpati mahotsav by MTDC.
2.Ganesh Gali, Lal Bagh Parel, Central Mumbai
The theme this year was coronation of Shivaji maharaj. Mumbai Cha Raja of Ganesh Gali is one of the old and popular pandals. Founded in 1928, the Mandal is celebrating its 96th year of inception with a special theme. This year, the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal celebrates 350 years of Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation with a special theme. A huge crowd awaits for the darshan of Mumbai cha Raja standing tall at 22 ft and displaying grandeur with its illuminous glow. The darshan amidst the huge crowd is worth it and you feel empowered with the divine blessings of Mumbai Cha Raja.
Our bus moved towards the most awaited darshan at the Sidhivinayak temple. The temple has a small mandap with the shrine for Siddhi Vinayak (“Ganesha who grants your wish”). The wooden doors to the sanctum are carved with images of the Ashtavinayak (the eight manifestations of Ganesha in Maharashtra).
The inner roof of the sanctum is plated with gold, and the central statue is of Ganesha. The exterior of the temple consists of a dome which is lit up with multiple colors in the evenings and the statue of Shri Ganesha is located exactly under the dome. The pillars are carved out with the images of ashtvinayak. This temple is mostly visited by people who believe in Lord Ganpati and coming to the temple on Ganpati mahotsav is an experience of a lifetime. The darshan of Lord Ganpati was smooth with the help of our friends from Thomas cook who ushered us with ease in the temple.
4.GSB Wadala Pandal Ganpati
GSB Seva Mandal is one of the popular Ganesh pandals of Mumbai, with an installation of Lord Ganesha adorned with 69kg of gold and 336 kg of silver. The divine statue looked endearing with its glitter and is worth visiting, What I loved most was the comfortable darshan inspite of the huge rush during the festival. Prasads are distributed to the devotees in a line by the pandits.
The day comes to an end with a glimpse of the procession of Lord Ganpati taken back by devotees. It is such a beautiful sight to see a musical parade of devotees taking the effigy of Lord Ganesha and immersive in the sea. Prayers are chanted and lamps are lit where Lord Ganpati is revered. The soft wind and gentle rain on the night of Ganpati immersion marks the end of the second day of the auspicious ten day festival. It was a lovely sight to witness the devotion and belief of people in lord Ganesha, who is symbolic of destroyer of evils and paves the path for all possibilities. We signed off after the darshan and moved back to our hotel.
Maharashtra is the state that brews fervor of celebration of the ten day long festival with processions, chants, hymns and togetherness. It is a delight to witness a harmonious blend of mysticism and devotion. A big gratitude to Maharashtra Tourism for introducing us to the auspicious International Ganpati festival and making us a part of the celebrations.