Pune plays host to the Ganpati festival for ten days every year. It was started by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1893, to bring people together and promote harmony at a time when India was divided under the British Rule. This 10-day festival provides a platform for local artists to display their talent through cultural programs organised by the various Ganesh Mandals in the city. From replica of historic temples to creating palaces and larger than life idols, months of work of artists takes shape through these celebrations.
1. Kasba Ganpati
Established in 1893, this temple is the ‘pahila manacha’ ganpati or the most revered Ganpati in Pune. It’s no wonder that the mandal gets the first preference during immersions. Being the most revered, all other mandals follow Shri Kasba Ganpati. During the immersion process, Lord Ganesh is placed in a Palkhi made of silver and the devotees carry it on their shoulders.
This year, the mandal has been designed as a Gaja Mahal or the elephants’ palace created by artist Girish Kolapkar. The Mandal upholds women empowerment. On one of the days of the festival, the Mandal invites women to take care of the activities. In an innovative gesture, they have installed Water ATMs at Khandobawadi village.
Address: 159, Kasba Peth, Pune
2. Tambdi Jogeshwari Temple
Constructed in the 15th century, the Tambadi Jogeshwari temple gets its name from the idol that is red (tambdi) in colour and its location in the Jogeshwari lane of Budhwar Peth in Pune. This mandal is revered as the second ‘manacha’ ganpati and is second in line for immersions every year. Interestingly the presiding deity is not Ganesha but Durga. The temple has an idol of Ganesha which is said to be self-originated and has a head that resembles an African elephant. Since the year 2000, a separate mandal has been created for the Ganesh idol established in a silver dome. This year’s attraction is a huge artistic tortoise placed under this silver dome.
Address: 33 (A) Budhwar Peth, Pune
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3. Guruji Talim Ganpati
This temple constructed in 1887, stands out for being the first mandal started by Hindu and Muslim families. It gets its name from a wrestling pit and gymnasium that is situated very close to Ganpati Chowk. The instructor who worked there was always referred to as Guruji and the first idol was installed at the talim (wrestling pit). This is the third ‘manacha’ ganpati and is given the third preference during immersion. Some of the attractions include the 10 kg gold used on the idol along with a 190 tola garland adorning it.
Address: Ganpati Chowk, Laxmi Road, Pune
4. Tulshi baug Ganpati
Standing tall in the bylanes of Tulshibaug, where dozens of women congregate to shop, this mandal stands for women empowerment. Says Chakor Subandh, a member of the mandal, “Our mandal pays reverence to these women who help bring revenue to the market”. Accordingly most prayers and proceedings in the temple are carried out by women. The 15 ft. idol in this mandal was set up in 1975 with 125 kg of silver coating and is the tallest idol in Pune. This is given the fourth honour amongst all other Ganesh mandals in Pune. For immersion, a beautifully decorated chariot with a large eagle made with flowers is used to carry the idol.
Address: Tulshibaug, Budhwar Peth, Pune
5. Kesariwada Ganpati Mandal
Founded by the freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak in 1893, this mandal retains its century-old tradition and is considered as one of the most respected Ganesh mandals in the city. The temple is unique as it has two huge Ganpati idols along with an idol of Lokmanya Tilak. The paintings inside depict Tilak’s life. There is no display decoration but an emphasis on organization of cultural events and educative programmes. It is fifth in line during immersion.
Address: 568, Narayanpeth Tilakwada, Pune
6. Jilbya Maruti
Established in 1954, this is known as Navsacha Ganpati as it is believed that this Ganpati fulfills all your wishes. It is famous for its ornate chariot theme and lighting and it’s a treat to watch the immersion procession along with the Dhol Tasha troupe in tow. The first day of the festival saw American drummer Greg Ellis performing with the Samartha Pratishthan team accompanying the Jilbya Maruti mandal.
Address: Shanipar Mandai Rd, Tulshibaug, Shukrawar Peth
7. Babu Genu Mandal
The mandal completes 50 this year. Established in 1969, this is Pune’s second most revered Ganpati for night viewing. This year the mandal has been recreated as a 7-storey replica of Shaniwar wada, one of the most iconic ‘wadas’ in Pune built by Shivaji. This set up will be featured in a movie in December. In an innovative gesture this year, the mandal has sent a Ganesha idol to Kashmir where it will be idolised in Laal Chowk. This ganpati is one of the last few for immersion. Revelries continue till early morning the day after immersion.
Address: Babu Genu Chowk, Pune
8. Bhausaheb Rangari Mandal
This is India’s first sarvajanik mandal and is celebrating its 127th year. It was set up by Bhausaheb Laxman Javale in 1892 to provide a common place for revolutionaries to make plans against the British. He decided to mark a 10-day Ganesh mahotsav and made an idol of Lord Ganesha killing a demon—the demon here signifying the Britishers. The 3-feet idol made in paper pulp embodies the eco-friendly theme of the mandal. This Ganpati goes for immersion 3rd last, on its traditional wooden chariot and with largest number of Dhol Tasha Troupes leading it.
Address: Bhau Rangari Road, Budhwar Peth, Pune
9. Akhil Mandai Mandal
The famed Sharada-Ganesh idol of the mandal is one of the main attractions that make this temple stand out from the rest. Celebrating its 126th year, the mandal was witness to freedom struggle and progressive reforms in the city. This year’s mandal, created by architect Harishchandra Chirmadkar, stands for social causes and works for the betterment of the society.
Address: Budhvar Peth, Mandai, Shukrawar Peth, Pune
10. Dagdusheth Ganpati
By far the most popular mandal in Pune, this one is frequented by celebrities and the who’s who. The temple was founded by Shrimanth Dagdusheth in 1893 and is the richest ganpati in Pune. This year’s theme is the replica of Konark Surya temple adorned with 25 chandeliers. This larger-than-life structure looks resplendent with a thousand lights. The idol is bestowed with gold jewellery weighing more than 40kgs of gold, including a 9.5kg crown. The fourth day of the festival saw more than thirty one thousand women reciting Atharvashirsha at 6 am.
Address: Budhvar Peth, Shivaji Road, Pune