Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Maharashtra State (Ashtavinayaka)-1
















































































Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Maharashtra State
Ashtavinayaka






Ashtavinayaka, Maharashtra

Ashtavinayaka literally means "eight Ganeshas" in Sanskrit. Ganesha is the Hindu deity of obstacles, unity, prosperity and learning. The term refers to eight Ganeshas. Ashtavinayaka yatra refers to a pilgrimage to the eight Hindu temples in Maharashtra state of India that house eight distinct idols of Ganesha, in a pre-ascertained sequence.
The Ashtavinayaka yatra or pilgrimage covers the eight ancient holy temples of Ganesha which are situated around Pune. Each of these temples has its own individual legend and history, as distinct from each other as the murtis in each temple. The form of each murti of Ganesha and His trunk are distinct from one another. However, there are other temples of eight Ganesha in various other parts of Maharashtra; the ones around Pune are more well known than the former.

The eight temples

The eight temples/idols of the Ashtavinayak in their religious sequence are:
Ashtavinayak Temples
#
Temple
Location
Map coordinates
1
Morgaon, Pune district

2

3

4
Mahad, Raigad district

5
Theur, Pune district

6
Girijatmaj Temple
Lenyadri, Pune district

7
Ozar, Pune district

8
Ranjangaon, Pune district

According to Shastra, first you have to visit Moreshwar of Moregaon. Then visit Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Thevur, Lenyandri, Ozar, Ranjangaon, and then again Moregaon will end your Ashtavinayak Yatra.
All these murtis are called Swayambhu effigies, or the self-existent in Sanskrit. This is to indicate that no human created these murtis, they were found completely formed by nature.

 

Morgaon Ganesha Temple

Shri Mayureshwar Mandir (Marathi: श्री मयूरेश्वर मंदीर) or Shri Moreshwar Mandir (Marathi: श्री मोरेश्वर मंदीर) is a Hindu temple (mandir) dedicated to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom. It is located in Morgaon (Marathi: मोरगाव) in Pune District, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) away from Pune city in the Indian state of Maharashtra.  The temple is the starting and ending point of a pilgrimage of eight revered Ganesha temples called Ashtavinayaka.
Morgaon is the foremost centre of worship of the Ganapatya sect, which considers Ganesha as the Supreme Being. A Hindu legend relates the temple to killing of the demon Sindhu by Ganesha. The exact date of building of the temple is unknown, though the Ganapatya saint Morya Gosavi is known to be associated with it. The temple flourished due to the patronage of the Peshwa rulers and descendants of Morya Gosavi. 

Religious significance

The Morgaon temple is the starting point of the pilgrimage of eight revered temples of Ganesha, around Pune. The temple circuit is known as Ashtavinayak ("Eight Ganeshas"). The pilgrimage is considered incomplete if the pilgrim does not visit the Morgaon temple at the end of the pilgrimage.  The Morgaon temple is not only the most important temple in the Ashtavinayak circuit, but also is described as "India's foremost Gaeśa (Ganesha) pilgrimage" (IAST original).
Morgaon is the adhya pitha – foremost centre of worship of the Ganapatya sect, which considers Ganesha as the Supreme Being.  It attracts the greatest number of pilgrims in the Ashtavinayak circuit.  Both the primary scriptures of the Ganapatya sect praise Morgaon. While Mudgala Purana dedicates 22 chapters to Morgaon's greatness, Ganesha Purana states that Morgaon (Mayurapuri) is among the three most important places for Ganesha and the only one on earth (Bhuloka). The other locations are Kailash in heaven (actually Kailash is a mountain on earth in the Himalayas, believed to have the abode of Ganesha's parents Shiva and Parvati) and Adi-Shesha's palace in Patala (underworld).  According to a tradition, the temple is without beginning and without an end. Another tradition maintains that at the time of pralaya (the dissolution of the world), Ganesha will enter yoganidra here Its holiness is compared with Kashi, the sacred Hindu city.

Legends

According to the Ganesha Purana, Ganesha incarnated as Mayuresvara or Mayureshwar (Mayūreśvara), who has six arms and a white complexion. His mount is a peacock. He was born to Shiva and Parvati in the Treta yuga, for the purpose of killing the demon Sindhu.
Sindhu was the son of Cakrapani – the king of Mithila and his wife Ugrā. Ugrā conceived due to the power of a solar mantra, but was unable to bear the extreme heat radiating from the foetus, so she abandoned it in the ocean. Soon, a son was born from this abandoned foetus and the ocean returned him to his grieving father, who named him Sindhu – the ocean.
Parvati underwent austerities meditating on Ganesha – "the supporter of the entire universe" – for twelve years at Lenyadri (another Ashtavinayak site, where Ganesha is worshiped as the son of Parvati). Pleased by her penance, Ganesha blessed her by the boon that he would be born as her son. In due course, Ganesha was born to Parvati at Lenyadri and named as Gunesha by Shiva. Little Gunesha once knocked an egg from a mango tree, from which emerged a peacock. Gunesha mounted the peacock and assumed the name Mayuresvara
Sindhu was given the ever-full bowl of amrita (elixir of life) as a boon from the Sun-god. The demon was warned that he could drink from the bowl as long as it was intact. So to protect the bowl, he swallowed it. Sindhu terrorized the three worlds, so the gods asked Gunesha for help. Gunesha defeated Sindhu's army, cut his general Kamalasura into three pieces and then cut open Sindhu's body, emptying the amrita bowl and thus killing the demon. The creator-god Brahma is described as having built the Morgaon shrine, and marrying Siddhi and Buddhi to Ganesha. At the end of this incarnation, Gunesha returned to his celestial abode, giving his peacock mount to his younger brother Skanda, with whom the peacock mount is generally associated.
Because Ganesha rode a peacock (in Sanskrit, a mayura, in Marathimora), he is known as Mayureshwar or Moreshwar ("Lord of the peacock")  Another legend says that this place was populated by peacocks giving the village its Marathi name, Morgaon ("Village of peacocks"), and its presiding deity the name Moreshwar.
A Ganapatya legend recalls how the creator-god Brahma, the preserver-god Vishnu and the dissolver-god Shiva, the Divine Mother Devi and the Sun-god Surya mediated at Morgaon to learn about their creator and their purpose of existence. Ganesha emerged before them in form of an Omkara flame and blessed them.  Another legend records that when Brahma created his son Kama (desire), he became a victim of desire and lusted for his own daughter Sarasvati (Goddess of learning). Upon invocation by all of the deities, the sacred Turiya Tirtha river appeared and Brahma bathed in her waters to cleanse his sin of incest. Brahma then came to Morgaon to worship Ganesha, carrying water from the river in his water pot. Entering the Ganesha shrine, Brahma stumbled and water fell from the pot. When Brahma tried to pick it up, it was turned into the sacred Karha river, that still flows at Morgaon.

History

Morya Gosavi (Moroba), a prominent Ganapatya saint, worshipped at the Morgaon Ganesha temple before shifting to Chinchwad, where he established a new Ganesha temple The Morgaon temple and other Ganapatya centres near Pune, enjoyed royal patronage from the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire during the 18th century. The Peshwas, who worshipped Ganesha as their kuladaivat ("family deity"), donated in land and/or cash and/or made additions to these Ganesha temples.
According to Anne Feldhaus, the Morgaon temple does not pre-date the seventeenth century, when Morya Gosavi popularized it  However, even the dating of Morya Gosavi is disputed and varies from the 13th–14th century to the 17th century. ] The descendants of Morya Gosavi – who were worshipped as Ganesha incarnates at the Chinchwad temple – often visited the Morgaon temple and controlled the finances and administration of many Ashthavinayak temples.  Currently, the temple is under the administration of the Chinchwad Devasthan Trust, which operates from Chinchwad. Besides Morgaon, the temple trust controls the Chinchwad temple and the Theur and Siddhatek Ashtavinayak temples. ]

Architecture

 The temple is surrounded by a tall stone boundary wall with minarets at each of the four corners, suggesting a Muslim influence on the architecture A Muslim chieftain was patron of the temple at one time.  The temple has four gates, each facing a cardinal direction and with an image of Ganesha, each gate depicting him in the form that he appeared in each of the four ages (yugas). Each of the four Ganesha forms is associated with a Puruārtha (aim of life) and accompanied by two attendants. The image of Ballalvinayaka at the eastern gate, accompanied by god Rama (Vishnu's Avatar) and his consort Sita, symbolises Dharma (righteousness, duty, ethnics) and embodies the preserver-god Vishnu. Vignesha at the southern gate, flanked by Ganesha's parents Shiva and Parvati (Uma) symbolises Artha (wealth and fame) and embodies the dissolver – Shiva. Cintamani at the western gate – representing Kama (desire, love and sensual pleasure) – is attended by the love god Kamadeva and his wife Rati and embodies the formless (asat) Brahman. Mahaganapati at the northern gate standing for moksha (salvation), is accompanied by Varaha (Vishnu's boar avatar) and his wife the earth goddess Mahi embodies Sat Brahman.
The main entrance of the temple faces north. The quadrangular courtyard has two Deepmalas – lamp towers with niches to light lamps. A sculpted 6 foot mouse – the vahana (mount) of Ganesha sits in front of the temple A Nagara-khana – which stores Nagaras (kettle drums) – is situated nearby. A huge Nandi bull sculpture is positioned facing the Lord, just outside the temple gates. This is considered unusual as a Nandi is normally positioned in front of the sanctum sanatorium in Shiva temples. A legend explains this oddity: the Nandi sculpture being transported from nearby Shiva temple, decided to settle in front of Ganesha and then refused to move Both the mouse and Nandi are considered guardians of the entrance.
A recently built sabha-mandapa (assembly-hall) has idols of god Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. It leads to central hall built by king Kurundwad Patwardhan. The ceiling of this hall is formed from a single stone. The garbhagriha (sanctum sanatorium) has a central image of Ganesha as Mayureshwar or Moreshwar, facing the North. The Ganesha image is depicted in a seated posture with its trunk turning to the left, four arms and three eyes. He holds a noose (pasha) and elephant goad (ankusha) in his upper hands, while his lower right rests on his knee and the other one holds a modaka (a sweet). The navel and the eyes are embedded with diamonds. A cobra hood raised over Ganesha's head, shelters the Lord.  The image is actually smaller than it looks as it is smeared with a thick level of saffron-coloured Sindoor (vermillion), which peels off once every century. It last fell off in 1882, and prior to that in 1788.  Ganesha is flanked by idols of his consorts Riddhi and Siddhi sometimes called Siddhi and Buddhi  These idols are made of an alloy of five metals or of brass  The deities are covered with crafted silver and gold Like all Ashtavinayaka shrines, the central Ganesha image is believed to be svayambhu (self-existent), naturally occurring in the form of an elephant-faced stone.  In front of the central image, the vahanas of Ganesha – the mouse and the peacock are placed.  To the left outside the garbhagriha is an image of Nagna-Bhairava.
The space around the sabha-mandapa (assembly hall) has 23 different idols depicting various forms of Ganesha. The Ganesha idols include the images of the eight avatars of Ganesha described in Mudgala Purana – Vakratunda, Mahodara, Ekadanta, Vikata, Dhrumavarna, Vighnaraja and Lambodara – positioned in eight corners of the temple. Some of the images are installed by the Yogendra Ashram followers.  One more noteworthy Ganesha idol is of "Sakshi Vinayaka" who is "a witness" to the prayers offered to Mayureshwara. Traditionally, first "Nagna Bhairava" is prayed then Mayureshwara and then Sakshi Vinayaka. This is the perfect sequence for prayers offered here.
There are other images of Hindu deities around the sabha-mandapa including those of the regional deities Vithoba and Khandoba, personifications of Shukla chaturthi and Krishna chaturthi (the 4th lunar day in bright fortnight and dark fortnight of a lunar month, both of which are sacred for Ganesha worship) and the Ganapatya saint Morya Gosavi. On the circumambulation path (Pradakshina path), there is a Tarati tree (a thorny shrub) near the Kalpavrushka Mandir. The tree is believed to be the spot where Morya Gosavi underwent penance.  There are two sacred trees in the courtyard: shami and bilva.

Worship and festivals

The central icon of Ganesha is worshipped daily: at 7 am, 12 noon and at 8 pm.
On Ganesh Jayanti (Magha Shukla Chaturthi) and Ganesh Chaturthi (Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturthi) festivals on the 4th lunar day in the bright fortnight of the Hindu months Magha and Bhadrapada respectively, devotees flock to the Mayureshwar temple in large numbers.  On both occasion, a procession of pilgrims arrives from Mangalmurti temple, Chinchwad (established by Morya Gosavi) with the palkhi (palanquin) of Ganesha. The Ganesha chaturthi celebrations last for more than a month, until Ashvin Shukla ((10th lunar day in the bright fortnight of the Hindu month Ashvin).  Fairs and celebrations also occur on Vijayadashami, Shukla Chaturthi (the 4th lunar day in the bright fortnight of a Hindu month), Krishna Chaturthi (the 4th lunar day in the dark fortnight of a Hindu month) and Somavati Amavasya (a new moon night coinciding with a Monday)

॥ श्री गजानन प्रसन्न ॥
॥ कर्‍हेच्या तिरी एक असे मोरगाव ॥
॥ तिथे नांदतो मोरया देवराव ॥
॥ चला जाऊ यात्रेसी महापुण्य आहे ॥
॥ मनी इच्छिले मोरया देत आहे ॥
 श्री ब्रह्मकमंडलूतिरी वास करणार्‍या अशा ह्या महान अनादिसिध्द व श्री अष्टविनायक प्रमुख आद्य क्षेत्राचे वर्णन श्रीमत् मुद्गलपुराणाचे सहावे खंडात प्रामुख्याने व श्रीगणेश पुराणात संक्षेपाने केलेले आहे.
श्रीगणेश उपासने संबंधाने श्रीगणेश पुराण व श्री मृद्गल पुराण हे ग्रंथ मुख्य आधारभूत समजले जातात. त्यांचेच आधारे हे संक्षिप्त क्षेत्रवर्णन केले आहे. ह्या स्वानंदसम्राट देवतेचे वर्णन ब्रह्मांड पुराणात
 
॥ ॐकाररुपी भगवान श्री यो वेदादी प्रतिष्ठित: ॥  

असे केले आहे तर वेदात
‘‘ ज्येष्ठ राजं ब्रह्मणां ब्रह्मणस्पति ’’

 असे केले आहे.
 या अनादिसिध्द व स्वानंदसम्राट देवतेची त्रैलोक्यात अनादिसिध्द अशी तीन स्थाने श्रीमुद्गल पुराणात सांगितली आहेत.
॥ स्वर्गे शंभुगृहे चैव पाताळे शेष मंदिरे 
पुथिव्यांतु मयुरेशे क्षेत्रं विघ्नपते: स्मृतम् ॥
        (मुद्गल पुराण खंड ६, अध्याय ७, श्‍लोक ३०)
म्हणजे
१) स्वर्गात श्री शंकराकडे २) पाताळात शेषाकडे व ३) पृथ्वीवरती मयुरेशी म्हणजे मोरगावला याप्रमाणे ह्या श्रीस्वानंद सम्राट देवतेची तीन स्थाने सांगितली आहेत.
यातील मानवी जीवनातील त्रिविध तापांचा परिहार, अध्यात्मिक सुखाची परमावधी व परमानंद आणि इच्छित अक्षय व शाश्‍वत सुखाची निश्‍चितपणे फलप्राप्ती करुन देणारे पृथ्वीवरील श्री मुद्गलपुराणांतर्गत अनादिसिध्द तेजोमय आणि दिव्य असे श्री जड भरताचे भूमीतील भूस्वानंद मयुरेश्‍वर क्षेत्र म्हणजेच भौगोलिकदृष्ट्या पुण्याचे आग्नेय दिशेस पुण्याहून ६४ कि. मी. वर दक्षिणवाहिनी कर्‍हा नदीचे दक्षिण तीरावर असलेले श्रीभूस्वानंद मयुरेश्‍वर क्षेत्र अर्थात श्रीक्षेत्र मोरगाव हे होय.

 

 

Siddhivinayak Temple, Siddhatek,

The Siddhivinayak Temple of Siddhatek is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom. The temple is one of the Ashtavinayaka, the eight revered shrines of Ganesha in the Indian state of Maharashtra and the only Ashtavinayaka shrine in Ahmednagar district.

Location

The temple is located on the northern bank of the river Bhima in Siddhatek in the Karjat taluka of Ahmednagar district The nearest station is Daund (19 km). The temple is accessible from the small village of Shirapur in Pune district, on the southern bank of the river, from where it can be reached by boat or newly constructed bridge.  Other routes are (48 km) Daund-Kasti-Padgaon, Shirur-Shrigonda-Siddhatek, Karjat-Rashin-Siddhatek
The temple stands on a hillock, surrounded by thick foliage of Babul trees and is located approximately 1 km from the core Siddhatek village To propitiate the deity, devotees often perform pradakshina (Circumambulation) of the hillock seven times, even though the there is no paved road and the path passes through thorny shrubs.

Religious importance

Though Theur is prescribed to the second temple to be visited in the Ashtavinayak circuit after the foremost Morgaon, pilgrims often visit it third after Morgaon and Theur, as it is a more convenient route.
The Ganesha icon here is with his trunk turned to the right. Usually, the trunk of Ganesha is depicted turned to his left. It is believed that the right-trunked Ganesha is very powerful, but difficult to please  This is the only Ashtavinayaka shrine where the deity has his trunk to the right.  Traditionally, an icon whose trunk is to the right is named "Siddhi-Vinayaka", the giver of siddhi ("accomplishment, success", "supernatural powers").  The temple is thus considered as a jagrut kshetra where the deity is said to highly powerful.
The Mudgala Purana narrates that at the beginning of Creation, the creator-god Brahma emerges from a lotus, that rises the god Vishnu's navel as Vishnu sleeps in his yoganidra. While Brahma starts creating the universe, two demons Madhu and Kaitabha rise from the dirt in Vishnu's ear. The demons disturb Brahma's process of creation, thereby compelling Vishnu to awake. Vishnu battles the battle, but cannot defeat them. He asks the god Shiva the reason for this. Shiva informs Vishnu that he cannot succeed as he had forgotten to invoke Ganesha – the god of beginning and obstacle removal – before the fight. Therefore Vishnu performs penance at Siddhatek, invoking Ganesha with his mantra – "Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah". Pleased, Ganesha bestows his blessings and various siddhis ("powers") on Vishnu, returns to his fight and slays the demons. The place where Vishnu acquired siddhis was thereafter known as Siddhatek.

History

The original temple is believed to be built by Vishnu, however it was destroyed over time. Later, a cowherd is believed to have had a vision of the ancient temple and found the icon of Siddhi-vinayaka. The cowherd worshipped the deity and soon others came to know of the shrine.
The present temple was built in the late 1700s by Ahilyabai Holkar, the Philosopher Queen of Indore, who built and renovated many Hindu temples.  Sardar Haripant Phadke, an official with the Peshwa rulers, built the Nagarkhana - a chamber which stores Nagaras (kettle drums) and a paved pathway to the main door of the temple Haripant Phadke got his post as commander-in-chief back after praying to the deity for 21 days, daily circumbulating the temple 21 times. The outer sabha-mandapa (hall) – previously built by Mairal, a landlord from Braoda – was broken in 1939 and was rebuilt in 1970.
The Ganapatya, a sect that worships Ganesha as the Supreme Being, Saint Morya Gosavi (dated between 13th to 17th century), and Narayan Maharaj are described as having worshipped at the temple, where they attained siddhi.
Currently, the temple is under the administration of the Chinchwad Devasthan Trust, which also governs Morgaon and Theur Ashtavinayak temples.

Architecture

 The temple - constructed in black stone - faces north. The temple has sabha-mandapa (assembly hall) of black stone and another sabha-mandapa, which is a later addition. The threshold of the main shrine has a small demonic head sculpture. The temple also has a Nagarkhana.
The garbhagriha (sanctum) is 15 ft high and 10 ft wide.  It has the Jaya-Vijaya – the gatekeepers of Vishnu's abode – brass sculptures flanking the central icon of Siddhivinayaka. It has a dome-shaped stone ceiling.  Like all Ashtavinayaka shrines, the central Ganesha image is believed to be svayambhu (self-existent), naturally occurring in the form of an elephant-faced stone.  The central icon of Siddhi-Vinayaka is seated cross-legged with his consort Siddhi seated nearby, though often she is hidden with flower garlands and the sindoor paste that covers the image.  The icon is sheathed in brass and with its trunk turned to the right. The sanctum also has a Shiva-panchayatana (Shiva surrounded by Ganesha, Vishnu, the Goddess and the Sun-god Surya) and a shrine to goddess Shivai.

Festivals

The temple celebrates three main festivals. The Ganesh Chaturthi festival is celebrated from the first to the fifth day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, where Ganesh Chaturthi is the fourth day. A festival is held to commemorate the birthday of Ganesha – Ganesha Jayanti, on the fourth day of the Hindu month of Magha. This festival is celebrated from the first to the fifth day of Magha. The palkhi of Ganesha is taken for three consecutive days in these festivals.
A festival and fair is also held on Vijayadashami and Somavati Amavasya, a no-moon day that falls on a Monday.

 

Ballaleshwar Pali

Ballaleshwar (lit.: "Ballal's Lord") temple is one of the eight temples of Lord Ganesha. Among Ganesha temples, Ballaleshwar is the only incarnation of Ganesha that is known by his devotee's name. It is located in the village of Pali which is at a distance of 30 km from Karjat in the Raigad district. It is situated between fort Sarasgad and the river Amba.

 The temple

The original wooden temple was renovated in 1760 to make way for a new stone temple designed by Shri Fadnis. Built in the shape of the letter Shri, it was made by mixing lead with the cement during construction. The east-facing temple was carefully positioned so that, as the sun rises, sun rays fall directly on the murti during worship. The temple contains a bell that was brought back by Chimaji Appa after his defeat of the Portuguese in Vasai and Sasti.
The temple complex encircles two lakes and is tiled throughout. There are two sanctums in the temple, an inner and an outer sanctum. The inner canctum is 15 feet (4.6 m) high, while the outer sanctum is only 12 feet (3.7 m) high. The outer sanctum contains a murti in the shape of a rat, holding modak in its hands while facing Ganesha. The main hall of the temple is 40 feet (12 m) long and 20 feet (6.1 m) wide and contains eight pillars resembling cyprus trees.

The murti

The murti of Vinayaka sits on a stone throne, facing east with its trunk turned left and sitting against a background of silver which displays Riddhi and Siddhi waving chamaras. The murti's eyes and navel contain diamonds.

Legend

In the village of Pali lived a successful businessman named Kalyan with his wife, Indumati. Their son, Ballal, and the other children in the village used to play puja, using stones in place of murtis. Once, the children, going to the outskirts of the village, saw a very large stone. At the insistence of Ballal, the children worshiped the stone as Ganesha. Led by Ballal, the children became so engrossed in their worship that they forgot about hunger and thirst; day and night.
Meanwhile, the parents of the village anxiously waited for their children to come home. When the children did not return on time, they all went to Kalyan's house and complained about his son Ballal. Kalyan, flying into a rage, took a stick and went in search of the children. Eventually, he found the children listening to the Ganesha Purana. In his fury, he destroyed the small temples built by the children, who fled away in terror, leaving Ballal by himself. Ballal, completely submerged in devotion to Ganesha, was grabbed by his father and beaten until blood drenched his clothes. His father proceeded to tie him to a tree and trampled on all the puja materials collected by the children. Lifting the large stone which the children had treated as Ganesha, he threw it to the ground, breaking it into pieces. He taunted Ballal, "Now we shall see which God protects you!" Going home, he left his own son bound to the tree to die.
Still bound to the tree, Ballal cursed his father for having insulted Ganesha, "May he become blind, deaf, dumb, and hunchbacked for his disrespect to the son of Parvati!" Though filled with pain, hunger, and thirst, he continued chanting the name of Ganesha until, exhausted, he fainted. On waking, Ballal entreated Ganesha to come to his aid. Lord Ganesha, moved by the child's devotion, appeared in the form of a sadhu before Ballal and untied him from the tree. On seeing Ganesha, Ballal's thirst and hunger vanished; his wounds were healed and he was completely invigorated. He prostrated before the sadhu, recognizing him as Ganesha, and worshipped him. Ganesha told Ballal he would bless him with whatever he asked for as a reward for his devotion. Ballal entreated, "May I be your unshakeable devotee, and may you always stay in this place and remove the miseries of the people who seek refuge in you." Ganesha said, "I shall ever remain here, and will take your name before mine, being worshiped as Ballal's Lord (BallalEshwar)." He embraced Ballal and vanished into the nearby stone. The stone's cracks disappeared and was made whole again.
That stone statue is called Ballaleshwar. The stone idol which Kalyan threw to the ground is also known as Dhundi Vinayak. This is a swayambhu murti and is worshiped before Ballaleshwar is worshiped.

Kalyansheth was a merchant in Pallipur and was married to Indumati. The couple was childless for quite some time but later was blessed with a son known as Ballal. As Ballal grew, he spent much of his time in worshiping and praying. He was devotee of Lord Ganesha and used to worship stone idol of Shri Ganesha in the forest along with his friends and companions. As it used to take time, the friends would reach home late. Regular delay in returning house used to irritate the parents of the friends of Ballal who complained to his father saying that Ballal was responsible for spoiling the kids. Already unhappy with Ballal for not concentrating on his studies, Kalyansheth was boiling with anger when he heard the complaint. Immediately he reached the place of worship in the forest and devastated Pooja arrangements organized by Ballal and his friends. He threw away the Stone Idol of Shri Ganesh and broke the pandal. All the kids got frightened but Ballal who was engrossed in Pooja and japa, did not even know what was happening around. Kalayan beat Ballal mercilessly and tied him to the tree saying to get fed and freed by Shri Ganesha. He left for home thereafter.
Ballal semiconscious and tied to the tree in the forest was lying as that with severe pain all over, started calling his beloved God, Shri Ganesha.
“O Lord, Shri Ganesha, I was busy in praying you, I was right and humble but my cruel father has spoiled my act of devotion and hence I am unable to perform Pooja.”
Shri Ganesha was pleased and responded quickly. Ballal was freed. He blessed Ballal to be superior devotee with larger lifespan. Shri Ganesha hugged Ballal and said that his father would suffer for his wrongdoings.
Ballal insisted that Lord Ganesha should continue to stay there at Pali. Nodding His head Shri Ganesha made his permanent stay at Pali as Ballal Vinayak and disappeared in a large stone. This is famous as Shri Ballaleshwar.
Shri Dhundi Vinayak
In the above mentioned story the stone idol which Ballal used to worship and which was thrown away by Kalyan Sheth is known as Dhundi Vinayak. The idol is facing west. The birth celebration of Dhundi Vinayak takes place from Jeshtha Pratipada to Panchami. From ancient time, it is a practice to take darshan of Dhundi Vinayak before proceeding to main idol Shree Ballaleshwar

Getting There:
  • From Mumbai via Panvel & Khopoli,Pali is at a distance of 124kms.
  • From Pune via Lonavala & Khopoli,Pali is at a distance of 111kms.
  • Regular bus services are available from Mumbai, Pune, Khopoli, Karjat, & Panvel

 

Varadvinayak

Varadvinayak, also spelt as Varadavinayaka, is one of the Ashtavinayak temples of the Hindu deity Ganesha. It is located in Mahad village situated in Khalapur taluka near Karjat and Khopoli of Raigad District, Maharastra, India. The temple was built (restored) by Peshwa General Ramji Mahadev Biwalkar in 1725AD.

Legend

Legend has it that the childless king, Bhima of Koudinyapur and his wife met the sage Vishwamitra while they had come to forest for penance. Vishwamitra gave the king a mantra (incantataion) Ekashar Gajana Mantra to chant and thus his son and heir, prince Rukmaganda was born. Rukmaganda grew up into a beautiful young prince.
One day, on a hunting trip Rukmaganda stopped at the hermitage of Rishi Vachaknavi. The Rishi's wife, Mukunda, fell in love at the sight of the handsome prince and asked him to fulfill her desires. The virtuous prince flatly refused and left the ashram. Mukunda became very lovesick. Knowing her plight, King Indra took the form of Rukmaganda and made love to her. Mukunda became pregnant and gave birth to a son Gritsamada.
In time, when Gritsamada learned of the circumstances of his birth, he cursed his mother to become the unattactive, thorny berry-bearing "Bhor" plant. Mukunda in turn cursed Gritsamada, that a cruel rakshas (demon) will be born from him. Suddenly they both heard a heavenly voice saying, "Gritsamada is the son of Indra", leaving them both shocked, but too late to alter their respective curses. Mukunda was transformed into the Bhor plant. Gritsamada, ashamed and penitent, retreated to the Pushpak forest where he prayed for a reprieve to Lord Ganesh (Ganapati).
Lord Ganesha was pleased by Gritsamada's penance and offered him a boon that he will bear a son who would not be defeated by anybody other than Shankara (Shiva). Gritsamada asks Ganesh to bless the forest, so that any devotees who pray here will be successful, and also urged Ganesha to stay there permanently and asked for knowledge of Brahma. Gritsamada built a temple there and the Ganesha idol installed there is called Varadavinayaka. Today the forest is known as Bhadraka.
It is said that if the coconut received as prasad during Maghi Chaturthi is consumed, one will be blessed with a son. Hence the temple is especially full with devotees during Maghi Utsav.

The temple

The idol of this temple Varada Vinayak is a swayambu (self originated) and was found in the adjoining lake in an immersed position in 1690 AD. This temple is said to be built in 1725AD by Subhedar Ramji Mahadev Biwalkar. The temple premises are on one side of a beautiful pond. The idol of this temple faces the east and has his trunk turned to the left. There is an oil lamp in this shrine which is said to be burning continuously since 1892. This temple also has the idol of Mushika, Navagraha Devtas and Shivalinga. There are 4 elephant idols guarding the 4 sides of the temple. In this Ashta Vinayak Temple devotees can enter the Garbagriha and pay their homage and respects to the idol personally. Devotees visit the Varadvinayak shrine throughout the year. During festivals like the Magha Chaturthi huge crowds can be seen in this temple.
This is the only temple where devotees are allowed to personally pay their homage and respects to the idol. They are allowed in the immediate vicinity of this idol to perform their prayers.
The temple is located three kilometers off the Pune-Mumbai highway near Khopoli (80 km from Pune), and is thus closest to Mumbai city. Karjat Railway Station, Karjat on Mumbai-Pune railway is 24 km from this place and 6 km from Khopoli.

 

Chintamani Temple, Theur

The Chintamani Temple of Theur is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom. Located 25 km (16 mi) from Pune,  the temple is "one of the larger and more famous" of the Ashtavinayaka, the eight revered shrines of Ganesha in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
The temple lore describes how Ganesha retrieved the wish-giving jewel Chintamani for his devotee, the sage Kapila from the greedy king Gana and how he pacifies the uneasy mind of the god Brahma, who meditated on him in Theur. The temple is associated with the Ganapatya saint Morya Gosavi (dated between 13th to 17th century). Though the temple is believed to have existed since antiquity, the current structure of the temple was built by him or his descendant. The Chintamani Temple was also a spiritual magnet for the Peshwa rulers, especially Madhavrao I (1745–1772) who renovated and made additions to the temple structure.

Location

Theur is located in the Haveli taluka of Pune district near the confluence of river Bhima and the conjoint river Mula-Mutha.

Religious significance

Though Theur is prescribed to the fifth temple to be visited in the Ashtavinayak circuit, pilgrims often visit Theur second in the circuit after Morgaon, as it is a more convenient route.
The Mudgala Purana narrates: Gana or Guna or Ganasura was the son of king Abhijit and his wife Gunavati. A strong, but greedy and hot-headed warrior king, Gana pleases the god Shiva – Ganesha's father with his worship. Shiva grants Gana the kingship of the three worlds – heaven, earth and underworld and decreed that Gana could not be killed by anything that possessed any of the three gunas. Once, Gana and his entire arrives at the hermitage of the sage Kapila, who owned the wish-granting jewel Chintamani. Kapila serves the prince and his army with delicious food created with the help of the jewel. The greedy prince desires to acquire the jewel, however the sage refuses. However, Gana seizes it from the sage. Kapila, a devotee of Ganesha, prays to Ganesha to retrieve the gem. Ganesha with his army appears in Gana's dream; one of his soldiers cuts Gana's head. Gana wakes up and marches towards Kapila's hermitage with his army, intending to slay the sage. Abhijit tries to dissuade his son and advises him to return Chintamani to the sage, but in vain. Gana starts to destroy the hermitage. Ganesha's shakti ("power") – the goddess Siddhi appears and creates a thousand-armed warrior Laksha, who destroys Gana's army while Ganesha himself beheads the arrogant prince. Ganesha returns the jewel to Kapila, however, the sage chooses to have his Lord instead of the jewel itself. So, Ganesha stays on in Theur with Kapila, taking the name of the jewel Chintamani.
The name Theur originates from the Sanskrit word Sthavar meaning stable. According to another legend, the god Brahma meditated here and his restless mind became sthavar due to Ganesha's blessings. Since Ganesha got rid of Brahma's Chintas ("worries"), he became known as Chintamani.  According to another tale, the god-king Indra worshipped Ganesha here under the Kadamba tree to get rid of the sage Gautama's curse. The place was thus known as Kadamaba-Nagar, the town of Kadamba trees.

History

Though Theur is believed to a Ganapatya (sect which considers Ganesha as the Supreme Being) pilgrimage centre since ancient times,  the current temple was built by the Ganapatya saint Morya Gosavi or his descendant Dharmadhar (Dharanidhar).  The exact date of the temple is unknown.
Morya Gosavi often visited the temple on his trips between his home town Chinchwad and Morgaon, the foremost of the Ashtavinayaka temples.  On every fourth lunar day after the full moon, Morya used to visit the Theur temple.  According to a story, as per his guru's orders, Morya performed penance at Theur by observing a strict fast for 42 days, within this period, he is believed to have "divine revelations" Ganesha is believed to have appeared in the form of a tiger to Morya and granted him siddhi (spiritual powers).
The Theur temple along with other Ganapatya centres near Pune, enjoyed royal patronage from the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire during the 18th century. The Peshwas, who worshipped Ganesha as their kuladaivat ("family deity"), donated in land and/or cash and/or made additions to these Ganesha temples, especially Theur and Morgaon.  The Theur temple has been a spiritual magnet of the Peshwas, especially Madhavrao I.  Madhavrao, who also renovated the temple, used to visit before engaging in any battle and after a battle to give thanks for the success in battle Madhavrao also spent in his last days in the precincts of the temple. In the period of extreme illness that led to his death, Madhavrao tried to please the Lord by performing him a perennial abhisheka of milk. Chimaji Appa, brother and military commander of the Peshwa Baji Rao I, donated a large European bell, which still hangs in the temple. He had acquired it as war booty from the Portuguese after seizing the Vasai Fort.
Currently, the temple is under the administration of the Chinchwad Devasthan Trust, which also governs Morgaon and Siddhatek Ashtavinayak temples.

Architecture


Described as "one of the larger and more famous" of the Ashtavinayaka temples,  the temple's main gate located to the North is relatively smaller compared to the scale of the temple, however the central icon of Chintamani-Ganesha faces East  The temple has a wooden Sabha-mandapa (assembly hall), which was built by Madhavrao. The hall also has a black stone water fountain in it. Besides the central shrine dedicated to Ganesha, there are number of smaller shrines in the temple complex: Mahadeva (Shiva) temple, Vishnu-Lakshmi temple, Hanuman temple etc. Behind the temple is the Peshwa Wada – the Peshwa Palace. Once the residence of Madhavrao, today the day-to-day activities of the temple are carried from this place.
Like other Ashtavinyaka icons, the central icon of Ganesha is considered self-manifested  and hardly any features are visible except the elephantine head – studded with jewel eyes – and trunk, which turns to his left.  The icon is interpreted to be seated in cross-legged posture. The icon is smeared with sindur like rest of the Ashtavinyaka images.

Temple festivals

The temple celebrates three main festivals. The Ganesha Prakatostav which corresponds to the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. The festival is celebrated from the first to the seventh day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, where Ganesh Chaturthi is the fourth day. A fair is held on this occasion. The Maghotsav festival is held to commemorate the birthday of Ganesha – Ganesha Jayanti, which falls on the fourth day of the Hindu month of Magha. The temple festival is celebrated from the first to the eighth of the month. A fair is also organised. The Rama-Madhav Punyostav on the eighth day of the Kartik month commemorates the death anniversary of the temple's best known patron, Madhavrao and his wife Ramabai, who performed Sati on his funeral pyre and was burnt with him

 Lenyadri

Lenyadri (Marathi: लेण्याद्री, Leyādri) represents a series of about 30 rock-cut Buddhist caves, located near Junnar in Pune district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Cave 7 is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to the god Ganesha. It is one of the Ashtavinayak shrines, a set of the eight prominent Ganesha shrines in Maharashtra.
Twenty-six of the caves are individually numbered. The caves face to the south and are numbered serially from east to west.  Caves 6 and 14 are chaitya-grihas (chapels), while the rest are viharas (dwellings for monks). The latter are in the form of dwellings and cells. There are also several rock-cut water cisterns; two of them have inscriptions. The layout of the caves, in general, are similar in pattern and shape. They generally have one or two sides with two long benches for occupants' use.
The caves date from between the 1st and 3rd century AD; the Ganesha shrine situated in Cave 7 is dated to the 1st century AD, though the date of conversion to a Hindu shrine is unknown. All of the caves arise from Hinayana Buddhism.

Names

The current name "Lenyadri" literally means "mountain cave". It is derived from 'Lena' in Marathi meaning "cave" and 'adri' in Sanskrit meaning "mountain" or "stone" The name "Lenyadri" appears in the Hindu scripture Ganesha Purana as well as in a Sthala Purana, in association to the Ganesha legend It is also called Jeernapur and Lekhan parvat ("Lekhan mountain").
The hill is also known as Suleman Pahar ("Suleman hill") or Ganesh Pahar ("Ganesha hill"). An ancient inscription calls the place Kapichita (Kapichitta). The caves are also known as Ganesh Lena or Ganesh Caves.

Geography

Lenyadri is located at 19°14′34″N 73°53′8″E, in the Indian state of Maharashtra in Pune district. Lenyadri is a deserted location, with no human settlement nearby. ] It is located at about 3 miles (4.8 km) from Junnar, the headquarters of Junnar taluka. It is situated on the north-west banks of river Kukadi, which flows between Golegaon and Junnar.  It is also approached through Nanaghat, which was originally on the trade route between Aparantaka or the northern Konkan and the Deccan and descending to the plains of the Junnar town, dated to about 100 years before Christ was born. The circular hill, where Lenyadri caves have been emboweled, raises about 100 ft above the plains in the Hatkeshwar and Suleiman ranges
Lenyadri is the only Ashtavinayaka temple on a mountain and within the precincts of Buddhist caves.
Getting there
One can reach Lenyadri from Mumbai or Pune in the following ways:
  • State transport buses are available for Junnar from the Shivajinagar bus stand of Pune, Kalyan ST bus stand in Thane district and from the Mumbai Central bus stand of Mumbai. Lenyadri is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Junnar. Rickshaws, jeeps and buses are available from the Junnar bus stand for travel to Lenyadri.
  • On the Pune-Nasik Highway, Lenyadri is 94 kilometres (58 mi) from Pune.

Cave 7: Ganesha shrine

Architecture

The Ganesha shrine is located in Cave 7, the largest excavation around Junnar, about 100 feet (30 m) above the plains. It is essentially a Buddhist Vihara (a dwelling for monks, mostly with meditation cells) in design, an unpillared hall with 20 cells with varying dimensions; 7 on either side and 6 on the rear wall. The hall is large, can be entered by a central door, under a pillared veranda. The hall is 17.37 metres (57.0 ft) long; 15.54 metres (51.0 ft) wide and 3.38 metres (11.1 ft) high. There are 2 windows on either side of the entrance. The hall is treated now as a sabha-mandapa ("assembly hall") of the Ganesha shrine. 283 steps built (by devotees) in stone masonry over eight flights lead to the entrance. The steps are believed to represent sensual pleasures, which Ganesha has overcome. The veranda has six pillars and two pilasters (half-pillars), that support "an architrave from which projects eaves relieved with a railing resting on beams and rafters".  The pillars have octagonal shafts and "over benches and back rest and topped by an inverted ghata, compressed amalaka in between two square plates, inverted stepped pyramid and finally crowned by a bracket" with tigers, elephants and bulls.
In a later period, the two central cells of the rear wall have been combined by breaking the partition in between to house the Ganesha image.  The old entrance was also widened during the conversion to the Ganesha shrine. There are two other smaller entrances to the hall. All entrances bear marks of sockets for fixing wooden doors, added during the conversion and still have doors. The hall also has traces of plaster and paintings,  both added during the conversion and renewed in later times - possibly as late as in 19th century.[  The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency (1882) records that the hall was plastered and white-washed. The paintings depicted Ganesha's childhood, marriage preparations, battle with demons and so forth, along with scenes of other Hindu deities like Devi, Krishna, Vishnu and Shiva Some of the cells fitted with wooden doors were used for storage. Nine Sati memorials were added on the left wall during the conversion, each is in the shape of a long pillar with an arched top, and to the right of each pillar a hand raised above the elbow, with an open palm, signifies Sati's blessing. While three panels were plain, the other memorials were sculpted. All of them are worn out, but one of them hints that its subject may be the immolation of Sati on her husband's funeral pyre.
Icon
The Ganesha form worshipped here is called Girijatmaja (Sanskrit: गिरिजात्मज). The name is either interpreted as "mountain-born"[11][13] or as "Atmaja of Girija", the son of Parvati, who herself is daughter of the mountain Himavan, a personification of the mountains of Himalayas. The features of the Ganesha icon, seen on the back wall of the cave, are the least distinct vis-a-vis the other Ashtavinayak shrines. Though the temple faces the inauspicious south, - according to a local tradition - the deity faces north, with his back to his worshipper and his face visible on the other side of the mountain. The Peshwa rulers even tried in vain to locate the face of Ganesha on the other side.  The central icon was covered with brass-plated wooden armour, given as a gift by Junnar. Brahmins, The armour is not present currently. After it was removed, Ganesha could be seen with his trunk turned to the left side, facing east, with one of his eyes visible. The icon is covered with sindoor and is directly formed/sculpted on the stone wall of the cave.
Like all Ashtavinayaka shrines, the central Ganesha image is believed to be svayambhu (self-existent), a naturally occurring stone formation resembling an elephant-face.

Legend

According to the Ganapatya scripture Ganesha Purana, Ganesha incarnated as Mayuresvara or Mayureshwar (Mayūreśvara), who had six arms and a white complexion. His mount was a peacock. He was born to Shiva and Parvati in the Treta yuga, for the purpose of killing the demon Sindhu.[
Once Parvati (Girija) asked her husband Shiva who he was mediating on. He said he was mediating on "the supporter of the entire universe" - Ganesha, and initiated Parvati with the Ganesha Mantra "Gam". Desiring to have a son, Parvati underwent austerities meditating on Ganesha, for twelve years at Lenyadri. Pleased by her penance, Ganesha blessed her with the boon that he will be born as her son. Accordingly, on the fourth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month Bhadrapada(Ganesh chaturthi day), Parvati worshipped a clay image of Ganesha, which came alive. Thus, Ganesha was born to Parvati at Lenyadri. Later, he was named Gunesha by Shiva. Shiva gave him a boon that whosoever remembers him before starting a job, will successfully complete that task. For 15 years Gunesha grew up at Lenyadri. Sindhu, who knew that his death would be at the hands of Gunesha, sent demons like Krur, Balasur, Vyomasur, Kshemma, Kushal, and many more, to kill Gunesha, but all of them were instead killed by him. At the age of six, the architect-god Vishwakarma worshipped Gunesha and endowed him with the weapons Pasha (noose), Parashu (axe), Ankusha (hook) and Padma (Lotus). Once, little Gunesha knocked an egg from a mango tree, from which emerged a peacock. Gunesha mounted the peacock and assumed the name Mayuresvara. Mayuresvara later killed Sindhu and his army-generals at Morgaon, the most important Ashtavinayaka shrine

Worship

Lenyadri is one of the eight revered Ganesha temples collectively called Ashtavinayaka. While some believe that order of visiting the shrines in an Ashtavinayaka pilgrimage is irrelevant, Lenyadri is usually visited as the 6th temple.
The caves including the temple lie under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India. Sardar Deshpande is the priest in charge of the temple's activities.  He does not stay in Lenyadri. The priests there claim to be Yajurvedi Brahmins  The festivals of Ganesh Jayanti and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated in the temple, when pilgrims crowd all Ashtavinayak temples

Unnumbered Caves

On another spur of the same Lenyadri hill, there are four more caves (not numbered) that face south-south west and are cut into precipitous hill slopes. Based on their unfinished conditions, they are interpreted as early caves. The details are: a small chaitya with a relic-shrine and a door, with unfinished irregular rock faces. The entrance is decorated with ornamentation that depict relic-shrine, a lotus flower and geometrical patterns; another is an inaccessible cave with two rooms, a well, and stone beds in three adjoining rooms with an incomplete relic-shrine in low relief; two other adjoining caves have a chapel and a front veranda.

 

Vigneshwara Temple, Ozar

The Vigneshwara Temple or Vighnahar Ganapati Temple of Ozar (also spelt as Ojhar or Ojzar) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom. The temple is one of the Ashtavinayaka, the eight revered shrines of Ganeshain Maharashtra, India. The Ganesha form worshipped here is called Vigneshwara (spelt also as Vigneshvar(a), Vigneshwar : "Lord of obstacles") or Vignahar (spelt also as Vignahara, "Remover of obstacles") and is associated with the legend of Ganesha defeating Vignasura, the demon of obstacles.

 Location

Ozar is located about 85 km from Pune,[2] off the Pune-Nashik highway and about 9 km north to Narayangaon.  Along the another Ashtavinayak shrine of Lenyadri, Ozar is located in the Junnar taluka of Pune district. Ozar is situated on the banks of Kukadi River close to the Yedagaon dam built on it.

History

Chimaji Appa, brother and military commander of the Peshwa Baji Rao I, renovated the temple and covered the shikhara (temple spire) with gold after seizing the Vasai Fort from the Portuguese The temple was also renovated in 1967 by the Ganesha devotee Appa Shastri Joshi.

Religious significance

Though Ozar is prescribed to the seventh temple to be visited in the Ashtavinayak circuit, pilgrims often visit Ozar fifth, as it is a more convenient route.
The Mudgala Purana, Skanda Purana and the Tamil Vinayaka Purana record: King Abhinandana performed a sacrifice in which he did not give any offering to the god-king Indra. The infuriated Indra ordered Kala (Time/Death) to destroy the sacrifice. Kala takes the form of the demon Vignasura (obstacle-demon) or Vigna (obstacle), who created obstacles in the sacrifice and ruined it. Further, he created havoc in the universe, creating obstacles in the good deeds and sacrifices of sages and other beings. The sages asked god Brahma or Shiva for help, who advised the worship of Ganesha. Hearing the prayer of the ascetics, Ganesha began to battle the demon, who soon realized that it was impossible to win and surrendered to his opponent and agreed not to harass the beings of the world. It was arranged that Vigna (obstacles) would be dwell only in places where Ganesha was not invoked or worshipped. In some versions, the remorseful Vigna was made an attendant of Ganesha, who would trouble those who fail to worship his Lord. Vignasura also requested Ganesha to take the name Vigneshwara (The Lord of Vigna/obstacles) to commemorate the event. The relieved sages consecrated an image of Ganesha as Vigneshwara at Ozar to mark the event.

Architecture

The east-facing temple features a "spacious courtyard, a grand entrance, sculptural and mural work" It is surrounded by a walled compound with a large gateway flanked by two large stone Dvarapala (gatekeepers) sculptures and a row of four musicians in bas relief on the lintel. One can view the Lenyadri shrine and Shivneri Fort standing on the wall. Two large stone Deepamalas (lamp towers) stand near the gateway in front of a fine corridor of seven cusped arches. There are owaris (small room for meditation) on both sides of the gateway. The courtyard is tiled. The central temple has three entrances with sculptured side posts and lintels; the east one being the central one. The central one has a lintel with a Ganesha in relief surrounded with monkeys and parrots on trees. The temple has two halls, with first one (20 feet high) having the entrances to the north and south too and has the imagee of Dhundiraj Ganesha. The next one (10 feet high) has a white marble mushika (the mouse, which is the vehicle of Ganesha) seating in attendance. The temple walls is filled with murals and colourful sculptures. The shikhara - over the sanctum - is covered with gold foil It also has two wide stone Prakarams (outer path outside a Hindu sanctum).
Like all Ashtavinayaka shrines, the central Ganesha image is believed to be svayambhu (self-existent), naturally occurring in the form of an elephant-faced stone.  The central icon of Ganesha faces east and is flanked with brass images of his consorts Siddhi and Riddhi. He has a left-turning trunk and is covered with sindoor (vermillion). His eyes are emeralds and his forehead and navel is also adored with diamonds.

Festivals

The temple celebrates the usual festivals associated with Ganesha: Ganesh Chaturthi and Ganesh Jayanti. In addition, a five day festival starting on Kartik Poornima is also celebrated when the Deepamalas are lit

 

Ranjangaon Ganpati

Ranjangaon Ganpati is one among the Ashtavinayak, celebrating eight instances of legends related to Ganesha.
According to the history the temple was built in between 9th and 10th century. Madhavrao Peshwa made a room in the basement of the temple to keep the idol of the lord Ganesh. Later on Sardar Kibe of Indore renovated it. Nagarkhana is situated above the entrance gate. Main temple looks like temple from Peshwa's period. Temple facing east has huge & beautiful entrance gate.
You will be surprised to know that the idol of these lord Ganesh is also named as 'Mahotkat', and it is said that the idol has 10 trunks and 20 hands.
While going from the Pune - Nagar high way the route is Pune - Koregaon - then via Shikrapur Rajangaon is 21 km before Shirur. From Pune it is 50 km.
Shiva is believed to have worshipped Ganesha before fighting the demon Tripurasura here. The temple was built by Shiva where he worshipped Ganesha, and the town he set up was called Manipur which is now known as Ranjangaon.
The idol faces the east, is seated in a cross-legged position with a broad forehead, with its trunk pointing to the left. It is said that the original idol is hidden in the basement, having 10 trunks and 20 hands and is called Mahotkat, however, the temple authorities deny existence of any such idol.
Constructed so that the rays of the sun fall directly on the idol (during the Southward movement of the sun), the temple bears a distinct resemblance to the architecture reminiscent of the 9th and 10th Centuries and faces the east. Shrimant Madhavrao Peshwa used to visit this temple very often and built the stone sanctum around the idol and in 1790AD Mr. Anyaba Dev was authorised to worship the idol.
Ranjangaoncha Mahaganapati is considered to be one of the Ashta Vinayak shrines of Maharashtra, celebrating eight instances of legends related to Ganesha.
Legend has it that when a sage had once sneezed he gave out a child; since being with the sage the child learnt many good stuff about lord ganesha, however had inherited many evil thoughts within; when he grew he developed in to a demon by name Tripurasura; thereafter he prayed to Lord Shiva and got three powerful citadels (the evil Tripuram forts) of Gold, Silver and Bronze with a boon of invincibility until all the three are in linear; with the boon to his side he caused suffering to all beings in the heavens and on earth. Upon hearing the fervent appeals of the Gods, Shiva intervened, and realized that he could not defeat the demon. It was upon hearing Narada Muni's advice that Shiva saluted Ganesha and then shot a single arrow that pierced through the citadels, bringing an end to the demon.
Shiva, the slayer of the Tripura citadels is enshrined at Bhimashankaram nearby.
A variation of this legend is commonly known in South India. Ganesha is said to have caused the axle in Shiva's chariot to break, as the latter headed to battle the demon without saluting Ganesha before he set out. Upon realizing his act of omission, Shiva saluted his son Ganesha, and then proceeded victoriously to a short battle against the powerful demon. (See Acharapakkam - an ancient temple in Tamil Nadu glorified by the 1st millennium Tamil hymns enshrining Shiva associated with this legend, as well as Tiruvirkolam and Tiruvatikai - both over 1200 years old, associated with the legend of Tripurasamhaaram).
(The Tamil lines of 15th century saint poet Arunagirinathar: 'Muppuram eri seida, Acchivan urai ratham, acchadu podi seida athi deera' where he describes Ganesha as the valiant hero, who caused the axle of Shiva's chariot to crumble to dust, as Shiva headed out to destroy Tripurasura, narrate this legend.)
The Temple: Mahaganapati is portrayed, seated on a lotus, flanked by his consorts Siddhi and Ridhi. The temple dates back to the period of Peshwa Madhav Rao.
The temple of Maha Ganpati is very close to the centre of the town Ranjangaon. The temple was erected during the rule of the Peshwas. Peshwa Madhavrao had constructed the Garbhagriha, the sanctum to house the swayambhoo statue.
The temple faces east. It has an imposing main gate which is guarded by two statues of Jay and Vijay. The temple is designed in such away that during Dakshinayan[ the apparent movement of the son to the south] the rays of the sun fall directly on the deity.
The deity is seated and flanked on both sides by Riddhi and Siddhi. The trunk of the deity turns to the left. There is a local belief that the real statue of Mahaganpati is hidden in some vault and this statue has ten trunks and twenty arms. But there is nothing to substantiate this belief.
Festivals: As with all other Vinayak temples, Ganesha Chaturti is celebrated in great splendor here.

 


 







Om Tat Sat
                                                        
(Continued...)                                                                                                                              



(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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