On foot and with new friends, a trip to the most special Ganesh mandals in Pune

Dispelling the popular belief that only tourists would be interested in such walks, most organisers say local residents turn up in great numbers.

By: Express News Service | Pune | Published: September 16, 2018 5:05:48 am
Members of a delegation from Myanmar, who are in Pune for the BIMSTEC military exercise with the Indian Army, visited the Swarajya Mitra Mandal in Koregaon Park for Ganesh Festival celebrations, in Pune on Saturday. (Express photo/Pavan Khengre) Members of a delegation from Myanmar, who are in Pune for the BIMSTEC military exercise with the Indian Army, visited the Swarajya Mitra Mandal in Koregaon Park for Ganesh Festival celebrations, in Pune on Saturday. (Express photo/Pavan Khengre)

A resident of Pune since the last 18 years, Sachin Ratnakar, a history enthusiast, has never quite explored the heritage places in the city. But this Ganeshotsav, he wants to make amends by participating in a heritage walk that will take him around the five main ‘Manache’ Ganpatis.

“Due to my busy schedule, I never got time to explore the heritage and culture of the city. That’s why I want to participate in the Ganpati walk, along with my wife and children, as I believe it will give us in-depth knowledge about various things,” he said.

For enthusiasts like Ratnakar, several such heritage walks, a concept which has become popular in last couple of years, have been organised in the city by different organisations.

Most of the Manache Ganpatis have completed 125 years and have considerable cultural and historical significance. “This walk is not just about the darshan. We have focused on the culture, tradition, heritage and historical significance of the Ganpatis,” said Jayesh Parajape, founder of Western Routes, who organises this walk every year.

Dispelling the popular belief that only tourists would be interested in such walks, most organisers say local residents turn up in great numbers.

Rutuja Rode, a resident of Model Colony, said, “I am going for the first time and… it is like revisiting childhood memories again. When we were young, our parents used to take us.. so, it’s nice to visit Ganpati pandals again on a guided tour, where we don’t just see the visuals, but also get to hear the stories.”

Nishigandha Sakhardande from Travia Outdoors, a heritage walk organiser, said such events were interesting as random strangers came together to collectively share their stories.

For those who fancy a walk through the Ganpati pandals in the night, Jaikumar Anand, founder of ‘Places around Pune’, an organisation which conducts guided tours around the city, is conducting a night walk throughout the Ganpati pandals, from Kasba Ganpati to Kesari wada area.

“These Ganeshas are in the Peth area and one needs to have proper knowledge of the routes in old city, otherwise they will get lost. Plus, being part of a group is great fun,” he said.

Like every year, the Pune Expat Club has also organised a Ganpati Walk for its members. “They are very excited to learn more about Indian culture and festivals and they always participate enthusiastically,” said Kajal Singh, public relations and marketing representative of the Pune Expat Club.

And while most walks are organised by individuals or organisations, Click-a-thon, an unique photowalk, has been organised by the Kasba Ganpati this year. The photowalk will be held on September 16 and will cover the five Manache Ganpatis.

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