Mumbai pandal-hopping: The essential Durga pujo trail

Durga Puja (or pujo in Bengali) in Mumbai may not be as jazzy, as bright, or as noisy as in Kolkata, but it manages to capture the splendor and the joy of celebration — the only time when Bengalis in Mumbai turn religious, the only time they decide to give denims a miss and switch to the traditional sari, the time when the Mumbaikars suddenly develop a taste for mishti (Bengali sweet).

Up from last year's 85 venues, this year, the Daily Bhaskar reported, 98 pandals will celebrate Durga Puja with pomp, where you may even get a chance to rub shoulders with Bollywood personalities, eat their favourite bhog in AC rooms and dance to the beats of the dhol over the next four days.

Where to go and why:

Powai Bengali Welfare Association, Powai:  To do the Dhunuchi and photo ops

Catch the most innovative Durga Puja pandal at Powai. With a really high budget, this year the Powai Bengali Welfare Association has come up with an innovative theme of replicating the Sripuram Golden Temple of Tamil Nadu. Located in the huge Hiranandani Gardens sprawl, this pujo pandal witnesses the largest footfall.

Special performances by renowned singers such as Babul Supriyo and Monali Thakur will be held on all three days. A Dhunuchi-dance competition — where you hold an earthen pot with smoke coming out of it and dance to the beats of the dhol — gives the puja a special feel. This pandal is simply a photographer's paradise.

Where: Hiranandani Gardens, near Hiranandani Bus stand, Powai

Up from last year's 85 venues, this year, 98 pandals will celebrate Durga Puja with pomp. Malvika Tegta/Firstpost

Balkanji Bari, Santacruz: For Mukherjees at 25 Lions Garden

If you are keen on celebrity spotting, visit the Santacruz puja. Organised by the famous Mukherjee family — Rani Mukherjee, Kajol and Tanuja especially — at Rani Mukherjee's house at Balkanji Bari, this is where you can spot the hosts and their celebrity friends. Tonight is the best time to be there. The venue is open to the public.

Where: 25, Next To Lions Garden, Juhu Road, Santacruz West
Contact: 26603521

Shivaji Park, Dadar: For Bengali weaves

The pandal you must visit is the Shivaji Park's Bengal Club Durga Pujo in Dadar West. It is the oldest Durga Pujo in the city. Although the pandal may not be very big. Or even the most ornate, but it's got one hellova food court. You get steaming hot mutton, chicken, fish chops; curies with rice; and rolls and Bengali sweets. You can also pick up Baluchari, kantha and tanth sarees, as also traditional terracotta jewellery brought from Paschimbanga.

Where: Bengal Club, Veer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Dadar (W)
Contact:  2445 1538

Ramkrishna Mission, Khar: For the real thing

Visit the mission for the most authentic pujo. Here you get to witness the most traditional Kumari Puja, in which an eight-year-old girl is decked up as Goddess Durga on ashtami day (tonight), made to sit on a thrown and worshiped by large crowds that shower her with petals, make offerings to her and seek her blessings. The ritual is only practiced in rural Bengal. And this is the only venue in the city where you come across it.

This is the best place for scrumptious bhog in the afternoon. Do try. And what's best? It's  free!

Where: Ramakrishna Mission Marg , 12th Road, Khar (W)
Contact: 2649 4760

Vashi, sector 15: For great Bengali food

And what's a celebration without food. This is the time for chicken rolls, Mughlai parathas and Calcutta's very own biryani. Vashi's Sector 15 Durga puja is the best place to stuff your face full. The food here is simply irresistible, but be prepared to shell out some money. A rosogolla that should cost you Rs 5 will be nothing below Rs 15.

Where: ICL School Ground, Sector 15, Vashi, Navi Mumbai

Thakur Village, Kandivali: For the traditional bhog — Khichudi and labda

Try the Khichudi and labda (mixed vegetable) at Kandivali, Thakur Village Puja. Durga pujo without the traditional bhog is incomplete for Bengalis. You will be amazed at the number of non-Bengalis crowding to savour the bhog here.

Where: A-22, Jinal Appartment, Besides Gokul Garden, Thakur Complex, Kandivali (E)
Contact: 9820283324

Updated Date: Oct 04, 2011 18:36 PM

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