Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a prominent figure in the fight against British rule, recognized the need to unite people on a common platform to strengthen the freedom struggle. In 1905, freedom fighters Govindrao Yalgi and Gangadhar Rao Deshpande organized the Ganesha festival as a public event with the aim of bringing people of all faiths together to fight against the British. The first ‘Sarvajanik’ Ganesha idol in Belgaum was installed at Govindrao Yalgi’s place.
Under Tilak’s leadership, the idea of celebrating the Ganesh Festival on a public basis gained popularity and has been followed ever since. After establishing the Sarvajanik mandals for Ganesh festivities in Pune, Tilak visited Belagavi and urged the people to come together. In 1906, the Zenda Chowk Ganesh Utsav Mandal was formed, with Tilak himself laying the first bamboo pillar of the pandal. This tradition has been carried on by the Zenda Chowk Ganesh Utsav Mandal ever since.
To honor Tilak, Govindrao Yalgi and Gangadhar Rao Deshpande organized a procession from the railway station to Zenda Chowk. Today, the Zenda Chowk Ganesh Utsav Mandal utilizes the funds for various public service activities.
Since 2005, the Mandal no longer accepts public donations, as all expenses are covered by the interest earned on their deposits. The Mandal also supports underprivileged students and recently organized a bodybuilding event.
This year, the number of Sarvajani (public) Pendals in Belagavi city has reached 378, showcasing the continued growth and popularity of the festival.