25 September 2012

Ganesh Utsav in Pune

Pune is widely known for its Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav and for various reasons we had preferred to watch them on TV or read about them in Sakal. This year we finally made it to the streets (albeit with tons of doubt- do we, should we go into the crowds etc etc) and here is a photostory of what we saw. It was a wonderful experience.
Before that, let me answer some FAQs, doubts that many of us may have, want to ask but dont know whom to ask. Obviously the answers are based on our experiences. Do take a decision based on whatever your particular circumstances.
So here goes:
  • Does the darshan involve lot of walking: YES. go prepared with sturdy shoes.
  • Which route do we take: Well, some homework will really help you get the most of your trip. The Sakal dated 23 September 2012 has a map depicting locations of different dekhave. Depending on your planned visit time and vehicle, you can choose to begin at Kasba Ganapati and end any where in Tilak Road. If you prefer to walk, then you may be able to cover fewer Pandals. If you are on a two-wheeler then do remember that certain roads are closed for all vehicles and you may have to park it some where and take bus number 11 (no prizes for guessing which is this one).Four wheelers are best left at home and three wheelers (ricksha's) are difficult to find....

    Pune, Ganapati, festival, ganesh utsav, pune
    Map from Sakal to help you plot your route
  • What do we take along: Drinking water, cap/umbrella depending on the weather, cash (to buy some the irresistable toys on sale-some shown in the photos that follow), Cell phone, medicines as required (headache) etc. Keep your bag as light as possible.
  • What about crowds? Well, it IS a public celebration of the highest order so people (and LOTS of them) are a given. But we were not too troubled by them. Some roads are one-way walking plazas especially at peak rush hours. People are from all walks of life, young and old all out for a wonderful experience. TIP: Visit the pandals on days before the Gauri visarjan when crowds are smaller. The electric decorations are best seen at night (Eureka!) but visitng just around sunset means lesser people.
  • What about Cleanliness? Contrary to our expectations, the roads we visited were clean. No piles of garbage, no peculiar odours and no beggars. Ofcourse there was no rain on the day of our visit, which may have helped.
  • What about Safety? We saw several only women groups, ladies with children and daughters all out to enjoy themselves. Personally at no point did we (as women) encounter the so called 'eve teasing'. There are plenty of police who are very helpful. However its a good idea to leave your jewellry, wallet etc behind and carry only bare minimum cash.Take whatever other precautions necessary when moving in a huge crowd.
  • Any spots to Rest: Sadly the answer is no. There is no place you can rest your tired soles but if you are lucky enough you may find a tea stall that has some chairs. Grap a cuppa to revive both the sole and soul! This year, reports say that some public temporary toilets have been installed and to be fair we did spot a couple near Mandai. However there are no reports about their state of cleanliness.
  • Is there anything to eat? Yes, lots of typical Puneri street food. Vada pav, Pav bhaji, Bhel stalls are aplenty. Packaged water was available as well. There was the occasional stall selling ukadiche modak. If you make a trip during the day time, some popular eateries may be open, which makes it a good opportunity to eat their delicacies.
  • Anything to Buy? Retail therapists may find a different range of wares to choose from. Hawkers sell a vast variety of toys, trinkets, balloons, bubble blowers that are great fun. We particularly loved the battery powered 'horns'. Are great to spot your companions in a crowd! Lots of Lotus, Durva, coconuts etc- stuff that is typically offered to Ganapati.
The following slide show has some captions that describe the 'what and where' of each image. I hope you can view those easily.

 There are still a few days before Anant Chaturdashi- the day for Ganesh Visarjan. We travel outside India to enjoy festivals of different countries. We need to explore, enjoy and experience whats happening in our cities first.
Go ahead!

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