The city’s oldest Ganpati mandals that date back to 50-100 years are leading the festivities with a blend of pomp and simplicity.

Mumbai’s first sarvajanik Ganeshotav at Keshavji Naik Chawl, Girgaum, started in 1893. Its idol remains 2.25 ft tall. “This year, residents of the compound will ourselves form theentertainment quotient. We have made a deliberate decision to not invite artistes from outside and have instead purchased eight big dhols for our boys to play. Every weekend, they practise at Wilson Gymkhana so as not to disturb the chawl. We will sing, dance and walk the ramp at a fashion show for which we have engaged professional trainers and consultants,” says president Bhalchandra Gharat.

In Dharavi, art director Manoj Govekar is busy with a prize assignment that marks the centenary of the Arulmigu Shree Maha Ganeshotsav. Govekar is building an extension to the existing south Indian temple. “The mandal was set up by migrants from Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu who fled the plague and casteism of that era and come to Mumbai where they set up tanneries,” he says. Music legend Ilayaraja and TN ministers will be feted this year.

The Girgaumcha Maharaja of the Akhil Mugbhat mandal rises 17-ft tall in its 81st year. “Vajpayee, Raj ThackerayTina Ambani and Praful Patel have visited us. Our mandal championed the cause for smooth roads for Ganesh processions years ago and was the first to make a foldable trolley for immersion,” says member Sameer Adukar.

An award-winning pandal in Mazgaon is known for hosting royal themes each year. The 9-ft tall Anjirwadi Ganpati will be seated in a Mauryan palace. “Art director Sanjay Dabhade has been working hard at adapting prominent symbols of that reign,” says spokesperson Satyan Kesarkar. It was at this 64-year-old mandal that the mould of an athletic, smiling Ganesh was first cast by sculptor Ratnakar Kambli. The prototype was later adopted by Lalbaugcha Raja organisers and became the popular model it is now.

A likeness of Delhi’s Akshardham Swaminarayan temple is taking shape at the 50-plus Shri Ganesh Mitra Mandal in Mulund. “Art director Bhushan Rodrigues is making a 40-ft pandal along these lines,” says representative Anand Thakkar.