Saturday, August 30, 2014

GSB Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti Wadala Ganapati pandal 2014

The Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti is known in Mumbai to be one of the richest mandals. 

Each year, the Ganapati idol of the mandal is bedecked with tonnes of gold jewellery and seated on a golden throne. I visited the pandal this year (60th year of the GSB mandal) and below are the general details and photos. You are strongly advised to carry a bag to take home the traditional snacks, pappads and pickle which are specially on sale during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival!

Location and How to Reach
The pandal is located at Dwarkanath Bhavan, Katrak Road, Wadala. You can take Bus Nos. 61, 200 and 440 which go to the Wadala Bus Depot (note that the No.200 bus also has another route so take it only if going to the depot).  Instead of getting off at the Depot stop, it is a good idea to get off one stop before, From there, it is just 5 mins. walk to the pandal entrance. If you are traveling down by train, you need to board a train on the Harbour Line (not Central line) and get off at Wadala station. Taking your own vehicle will be problematic due to absence of parking space so best avoided. There is generally some parking space just outside, but due to the throng of devotees, it will be tough to find an empty slot to park your vehicle.

The main entry of the pandal is on the road itself. On your right as you enter, there is provision to leave your footwear with an attendant. There is no fee for this, but you can give a tip if you so wish. It is advisable to leave your footwear with the attendant. The reason: not only will you want to take darshan of the main Saravajanik Ganapati, but also visit the temple and deities of Ganapati in various forms within the premises. There is also a canteen providing food and beverages (a must visit - see later details in this blog). So instead of leaving your footwear in the mass of other footwear at the entry, hand them over for care to an attendant.

Sarvajanik Ganapati

First visit the main Sarvarjanik Ganapati, for which reason you have probably gone in the first place! The entry for this is separate and involves climbing up and down a slopes with some steps on the way, the route a specially created walkway. You will not end up at the feet of the idol nor will you get any prasad, but you end up on the balcony overlooking the idol. It gives you an excellent view, though, of the idol and puja proceedings below, with a massive chandelier above. Take photos and put in your money in the donation box (if you so wish) quickly, as an alert guard there ensures nobody hangs around too long. When you exit out from the balcony, you have to go down steps and emerge out on the road, walk barefoot and go back round to the entrance.

View from the balcony with chandelier overhead
Now don't be in a hurry to take your footwear and head home! Do head back in, into the temple entry area. Turn right inside and go to the canteen area. 

The Canteen
Do not leave the pandal without savouring the traditional food and snacks in the canteen. On the menu:
  • Biscuit wada (fritters made from urad dal)
Veg cutlets and biscuit wada

  • Kadamb (idlis made from grated cumber, rice, coconut and jaggery and steamed in turmeric leaves)
  • Kothimbir wadi
  • Sabudana wada
  • Pakodas
  • Vegetable Cutlet
  • Punjabi Samosa
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Lemon Tea
  • Ice cream
  • Soft Drinks
First check out which of the items are available before paying, as when I visited, there were no sabudana wadas or kothimbir wadis. Then only buy the coupons (everything is 15/- per item/plate for the eats and 8/- for the coffee). You can stand and eat there, but it is quite crowded so best to just take it packed (wrapped in newspaper) and put in your bag to enjoy later. 

Once you head out, check out the pappads and pickles being sold right
Homemade pappads and pickle
next to the footwear area. These papads and pickles are traditional ones from Karnataka. 

I bought one packet each of the papads and a bottle of mango pickle from Sirsi (a town in Karnataka famous for its Marikamba Temple). 

All in all, it was a day well spent! 
A final note: If you wish to avoid the crowds, you should try to reach there as early as possible, preferably by 10a.m.

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