Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ganapati Karkhanas

The men worked quietly on the plaster of paris idols. They let us come in, let us watch them at work. It was so unusual to be in a place with so many ganeshas. The streets around Shivaji Chowk in Pen, 45 min.from Panvel, in Maharashtra are lined with Karkhanas or workshops that create the Ganapati statues that are sent to Bombay and to towns all over Maharashtra. It is said that more than 70% of the statues that are sold in Bombay are made in Pen.

Each of these ganeshas are destined to have a life of their own, in street corners in Bombay and elsewhere that are preparing themselves to celebrate the arrival of the elephant god - the megastar of the ganesha festival.

These are not the most ideal conditions for the artisans to work in and yet the work goes on. Can tourism not bring in the funds that can also upgrade working environments within the ganapati karkhanas?

There was natural light falling on the quiet ganesha in waiting. The men who were skilled with their hands and had made these gorgeous idols from ordinary clay were men to be admired.

A ganesha tour could indeed be a beautiful experience for many of us. It could be a one-day trip that would begin with the ganesh darshan at the karkhanas, then, a walk down few of the streets in Pen, to know the still prevalent vernacular architecture of the konkan region, a lunch and then, some looking around in the local bazaar and interacting with the local people.

A vernacular house could be identified for lease to be managed by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation or as a Private sector enterprise in the vicinity of Shivaji Chowk, similar to the heritage houses developed by Pondicherry tourism as boutiques, restaurants & coffee shops.

A traditional street that could be developed as part of the walking tour in Pen in addition to the visits to the Ganapati Kharkhanas.

Infrastructure such as roads, water supply and drainage systems may need upgradation if a floating tourist population is expected. The tourist facilities that could be provided here are:
  • Restaurant with local cuisine
  • Tea shop that is clean and with a ganesha storyline for the theme
  • Rest rooms/Toilets
  • ATM
  • Ganapati Souvenir shop
  • Ganesha Museum

There are an increasing number of craft tours and textile tours that allow us to explore the world of the artisans in India. "One day in the life of a silent Ganesha" could be one such fulfilling experience for the discerning tourist.

One of the karkhanas visited was the : Wadke Bandhu Kala Mandir, Kasar Ali, Pen - Raigad. ph: 02143- 254237 & 93707-17877


Sathyaraj said...

I think you should stand for the local MP seat there :-) Your idea is so practical and one can reap so much benefits by just developing that area...

kiran said...

Thanks,Sathyaraj. I have just added a link to your blog on the retail industry, in my blog on Indian Bazaars.