Given that, my team is based out of Pune, India, I travel to the city once in a while and whenever I travel, I try to make the best out of it both by closing any work which requires my presence and quench the thirst of traveling by going somewhere new. What works out best for me is to travel over the weekday preferably Wednesday and return back on Tuesday. This gives me the time to visit the places around over the weekend and also saves some buck on the flight ticket.
Pune is blessed with beautiful hills and places of travelers interest nearby (including Mumbai) and it being in the state of Maharashtra, the lovely culture is the default.
I was needed to travel to the office this September 2016 hence I planned it during the Ganesh Pooja, the biggest festival of Maharashtra. During the Pooja, people bring idol of Lord Ganesh to their home and welcome him to be with his family and keep him until Visharjan is done. Ganesh Visharjan is the day when they immerse the idol in a water body and request the God to come again next year. A majority of the Visharjan happens on Anant Chaturdashi, the fourth day of dark lunar phase, especially the popular one and the day being a state holiday is a bonus.
I started for Mumbai a day before Chaturdashi from Pune, pooling in a gentleman’s car whom I connected over BlaBlaCar. I am lucky that my sister stays in Mumbai so a stay was not a problem and it also becomes a family reunion, so another bonus. So one trip three agendas FULFILLED!
I reached Mumbai and it started raining non-stop and it rained full-night. Comes the day of Visharjan and rain didn’t stop even for a moment. Mumbai is famous for it’s heavy rainfall during the monsoon. It’s also said that it rains on the day of visarjan every year and is believed to be a good omen. If you are planning to see the visarjan ensure that you carry an umbrella and waterproof shoes. If you are into photography never miss bringing the cover for your gears. I being aware of it was all prepared. My sister was asking me to cancel the plan due to the incessant rain and she kept me waiting that the rain may stop in sometime.
When it was 2 PM and still the rain didn’t stop, I planned to start for the Girgaon Chaupatty. Girgaon Chaupatty is the beach most popular for it’s immersion. Even the immersion of Lalbauhcha Raja, the most popular pandal of Mumbai, happens on the same beach. I took a local train to the Dockyard Road railway station and a taxi from there to Charni Road railway station as they are part of different rail route. The taxi dropped me at the other side of the station and as I crossed the rail bridge, I was at the Chaupatty beach and a walk of almost 500 meters got me to the immersion point.
NOTE: The rail route I took was perhaps not the best one and happened to take it as it is what a few co passengers suggested me. But still it was not inconvenient. It just cost me a few bucks extra.
To cross the road, I got up a foot-over bridge and as I took a few steps, below is what I saw. I group of young boys taking Shri Ganesha for immersion. It reminded me the hoard in the Chillar Pary, an interesting Bollywood flick.
A moment I got to the top of the bridge and walked a few steps to get down, I saw a big notice reading photography is not allowed on the bridge. Few steps more I headed and a security gently asked me “Sir, Please don’t take photos”. As I reached the entrance of the beach, a policeman stopped me seeing a camera in my hand and told me that I cannot go with a camera. I didn’t expect this 🙁 Pheww 🙁 🙁
“Photography to me comes next but first I want to see the immersion”, I said. I told him that I came from a different city to see the immersion and it’s fine if you don’t allow me to take photos but atleast let me see the immersion. I am fine keeping the camera at some place given that it is safe. He was helpful! He told me to go to the junction on the left before I go to the beach and all the action is there. Also, you can get to the beach from the same route.
What I saw at the junction was incredible. An innumerable number of Ganesha idols in different sizes, postures, themes and avatars coming from the street in front of me. You can see that the statue below is as tall as the 4 stories of the building in the backdrop.
I have seen many other immersions but this is definitely the grandest. The reason primarily is that the idols during other festivals are established by communities or at home but in this festival it’s the both.
I walked ahead in the street from which all the idols were coming and found a kiosk built just for the photographers. I got up the stairs of it and took a few photos from there. This was a good initiative by the government.
This idol depicts the Ganesh in avatar of Shiva, who is his father.
This Ganesh idol in a standing pose was followed by a huge crowd of followers. Also, what followed was the media, trying their own way to differentiate. You can see one standing on the barricade in the photo above.
A family with kids, colored in Gulabi (Pink), the color of unconditional love.
Each idol and the group differ a lot in their own ways. This troop was all dancing, singing and rolling.
Here is a gentleman’s procession.
And here is the college group going rogue.
All covered in the color of Ganesh Visharjan. This reminds me why they stopped manufacturing the old trucks with big bonnets. It would have accomodated a many more of them.
After spending a few hours at that street I decided to come to be beach as it was getting dark.
There was 1000s of peopls gathered at the beach. I somehow loved it more than even the Kumbh Mela where the millions gather. The reason primarily is that I connected more with the idols, rituals and immersion here while in Kumbh it’s just millions rushing towards the water body.
The jam-packed Girgaon Chaupatty beach
Mumbai city in backdrop of Girgaon Chaupatty
The idols being immersed. Boats tow the idols deep into the see and immerse there.
Once it got dark, I headed back to my sister’s place. I knew the route I took while coming was not the best hence inquired a few locals who told me that the nearest rail route to my destination is 2 Kms away. I love to walk and took the road from which procession was coming. Hold on, the party has just begun and I would have missed it all. I have had not even half the fun.
The evening processions also had trucks and DJs thumping loud music and spraying foam.
Dance floor on the move. The celebration was even getting bigger.
Swinging to the tunes of “DJ wale babu mera gaana baja de”.
The next procession was coloring the city pink and enchanting “Ganpati Bappa Moreya”.
Acts, activities, gymnastics and what not.
Young and old. All having a great-time. You will wish to be here with your family and join the fun. Families and closed groups, they surround themselves with rope to avoid unnecessary intrusion by unwanted.
It was almost 10 PM and I came to the junction from where I need to take the other street to get to the railway station.
This procession goes till next day morning. The popular Lalbaugcha Rama is still a few Kms away and will reach this point late in the night and that is the biggest of all parties.
I was not able to greet Lalbaugcha Raja. I would have met him but left behind a reason to come back. I wish to come next and when I come will follow the trails of Lalbaugcha Raja. Stay tuned for it.
If you are ever planning to come for the immersion, please do come. I highly recommend it!
Below are a few tips which may help you while planning your trip to the Ganesh Visharjan.
- Be prepared for the rain
- Wear waterproof shoe
- Avoid getting into the water. There had been news about sting-ray, etc. Here is a sample news.
- Rely on public transport. Don’t take your own vehicle as most of the roads will be blocked for the procession. The frequency of taxis will be less as this is the biggest festival in Maharastra and everyone joins the celebration.
- If you are a professional photographer, get the pass for one of the Photography kiosk.
- Technically photography is banned at the beach.
Here is an essential guide to Mumbai Ganesh Visarjan.