Temples Of Lord Ganesh


Lord Ganesha is worshipped throughout the length and breadth of the country, and He has a place in every Hindu household ; be it in the corner of the Puja Room or a niche in the wall, in the shelf of the shop room or in the humble make- shift shop of the wayside mechanic, the faithful Hindu must necessarily have a picture or a clay or metallic form of the Lord of Obstacles, the Lord of success, in their houses or workplaces. Again, amongst the thousands of temples that dot the country in the villages and towns of India, there is not a single one worth its name which does not have a special place for Lord Ganesha.

Yet, compared to the temples that are dedicated to other deities like Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti (the Mother of the Universe), the ones dedicated exclusively for Ganesha are by far few. Most of such temples, where Lord Ganesha is the presiding deity, are concentrated in the states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Of these, the Ashta Vinayaka temples of Maharashtra are very famous.

The Ashta Vinayaka temples, as the name suggests, are eight in number, and are located within a radius of say 100 Km. from the city of Pune.

1. Sri Mayureshwar Of Morgaon

"MOR" in Marathi means peacock. The village had a lot of peacocks and the village boundary resembled that of a peacock, and hence the village was named as Morgaon. It is situated on the banks of river Karha. This is 64 Kms. from Pune and state transport bus service is available to reach the place.

The present temple structure was built during the Mughal period, though the idol is very ancient. It is facing north. There is a Nandi (the bull of Lord Siva) facing Lord Ganesha. The Nandi is not fully carved The legend says that while this Nandi was being taken for installation in a Siva temple, the cart carrying it broke down in front of the Ganesha temple. Inspite of all efforts, the big Nandi could not be lifted back on to the cart. It was, therefore, installed there itself.

The idol of Lord Ganesha is in a sitting posture, with the trunk on left side. There are diamonds on eyes, and due to frequent application of vermilion (sindur) over the idol the original carved shape is lost. However after around 100-125 years the thick coating of vermilion comes off and at that time the original idol is visible. The sindur last fell off in the years 1788 and 1882.

The story about this place goes as under :

Once upon a time there was a city called Gandaki, The king of this place- was Chakrapani. He had no children. Following the advice of a sage, he worshipped the Sun deity, and got a son named Sindhu. This son also worshipped Sun and was blessed with immortality by the deity. He conquered all the kings on the earth as well as Indra and Lord Vishnu and then proceeded to Kailash, the abode of Lord Siva. All gods were very unhappy and they prayed to Lord Ganesha. Pleased by their worship. Lord Ganesha incarnated as son of Parvati and fought with Sindhu. In the great battle that took place. Sindhu (Kamlasur) was killed by cutting his body into three pieces. The head of Sindhu fell near Morgaon, and the villagers cons- tructed a temple for Lord Ganesha there. Lord Ganesha fought this battle by riding a peacock, and He was known as Mayureshwar.

2. Sri Siddhivinayak Of Siddhatek Siddhatek means a place where one gets "Siddhi (success or accomplishment). This place is 101 Kms. from Pune and 12 Kms. from Daund railway station. It situated on the banks of river Bhima.

The temple is facing north. Lord Vinayaka with his trunk curled right-ward is in the sitting posture. The present temple structure was built during Peshva's regime and the sanctum sanctorum was built by queen Ahalyabai Holkar.

Legends say that many sages like Maharshi Vyas, Moraya Gosavi and Saint Narayan Maharaj performed tapas here and obtained "Siddhi". Even Lord Vishnu had worshipped Lord Ganesha here and obtained "Siddhi", and so the place got its name Siddhatek.

The legend connected with Siddhatek goes as follows :

Brahmaji the Creator, took up His abode in the divine lotus which stemmed forth from the naval of Lord Vishnu, Who was absorbed in His Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep). Brahmaji, the creator of all the universe, engaged Himself in His creative work. While the creation was going on. there emerged two powerful demons, Madhu and Kaitabha, from the wax of the cosmic ears of Lord Vishnu, and they started creating troubles for Brahmaji in His work. Lord Vishnu was woken up from His Yogic sleep and He started fighting the demons. The demons, however, proved to be too powerful and Vishnu did not know how to overcome them. He sought Lord Siva's advice, where-upon He was counselled to worship Lord Ganesha for success.

VishnU then undertook penance, chanting the mantra : "Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah". Pleased by Vishnu's tapas. Lord Vinayaka bestowed on Him boons and Siddhis. Powered by the blessings of Lord Ganesha, Vishnu succeeded in killing the powerful demons. The place where Vishnu performed penance and obtained "Siddhi" came to be known as Siddhatek and Lord Ganesha who bestowed the Siddhis, as Siddhi-Vinayaka.

3. Sri Ballaleshwar Of Pali

Pali is 110 Kms. from Pune and 30 Kms. from Karjat. Buses from Pune and Karjat are available to reach Pali. The temple is situated at one end of the village and is facing east. The idol is about 3 feet high. The special attraction here is a big bell in the temple which is made of "Panchadhatu" (alloy of five metals). This big bell was manufactured in Europe and was brought to India and installed in the church of Vasai-Sasti in Konkan. One Chimajee Appa of the Peshva regime defeated the Portugese and brought the bell from the church and fixed it up in this temple There is a small temple of Dhundi Vinayaka claimed to be "Swayambhu" behind Ballaleshwar temple. This Vinayaka is offered the first worship every day, before worship is done in the Ballaleshwar temple.

The legend connected with this temple goes thus :

Once upon a time there lived a grocer named Kalyan with his wife. They had a son named Ballal. He was very fond of worship of Lord Vinayaka. His sincerity was so transparent that even his friends started following him. This worried the villagers, because they thought that their children would become lazy and not do any useful work for their families. They complained to the grocer. He got wild with anger and went into the forest in search of Ballal to teach him a lesson. Ballal was in deep meditation when his father came. His friends deserted him and ran away. His father, Kalvsn broke the idol of Ganesh in front of the meditating Ballal, beat him mercilessly, tied him to a tree and want home.

Lord Ganesha took the form of a Brahmin and freed Ballal and healed all the wounds sustained at the hands of his father. Ballal intuitively recognised the true form of the Brahmin and prostrated to Him. Pleased by the devotion, the Lord asked as to what boon he wanted. Ballal requested the Lord to stay there permanently in the forest. The Brahmin thereupon disappeared and there stood in his place a big black rock with the form of Ganesha carved on it. This idol came to be known after the devotee, as Sri Ballaleshwar Vinayaka.

4 Sri Varad Vinayaka Of Mahad

Mahad is about 1.5 Km. off the main road connecting Pune and Khapoli. The temple faces east It is carved out of stone

There is a small pond behind the temple and it is said that the present idol of Lord Vinayaka was recovered from this pond, sometime around 1690. The temple was constructed during the Maratha regime and then renovated during the British period. In 1738 Saint Harihar Gosavi had attained samadhi here, a little to the east side of this temple.

The legend connected with this temple runs thus:

In Vidharbha, theģe was a king named Bhim who was very brave. He had no children for a long time. With the blessings of Lord Vinayaka. he got a son. equally brave and handsome and also a devotee of Lord Ganesha. He was named Rukmangad. Once he went for hunting and was overcome by thirst. He went to the nearby Ashram of Vachakni Rishi. The wife of the Rishi, Mukunda, saw this handsome king and was infatuated by him. The request to fulfil her desire was turned down by the king. Mukunda cursed the king and he became a leper. He then performed Tapas for long years. Narad Muni happened to pass that way. He saw the king and told him to go to Kadamb lake and take a dip. The king did so and he was relieved of the leprosy. Lord Indra who came to know about Mukunda's desire, disguised himself as Rukmangad, and pro- created a son in her, named Grudsamad. The boy grew up to be a very learned, brave and noble person He was, however, belittled by some rishis on the grounds of his birth. Grudsamad was upset by this and he retired to the forests and performed severe tapas for years on end, standing on one toe and eating only dry leaves. Finally Lord Vinayaka was pleased by his tapas and gave him a boon {Var) due to which he became so reknow- ned a Rishi, that his name came to be chanted at the start of Ganesha Mantra. Since Lord Vinayaka had given boon {Var) at this place. He was known as Varad Vinayaka. the Lord who bestows boons.

5. Sri Ch1ntamani Of Theur

This is one of the most famous Asthavinayaka temples. It is situated on the banks of River Mula-Mutha which flows through the city of Pune. Theur is only 22 Kms. from Pune and even city buses go to this place.

The temple's main gate is facing north but the idol of Ganesha is facing east. This is a big temple, originally built by Gosavi Moraya and then renovated during the period of Madhavrao Peshva.

Madhavrao was a great devotee of Ganesha and he used to worship at this temple before proceeding for any battle and also 'after returning from his battles. Chimajee Appa, another warrior and brother of Bajirao Peshava hed brought a few church bells from Vasai after defeating the Portugese and one of the bells was installed here. On the Ghats of the river near the temple, Ramabai the queen of Madhavrao Peshva had committed 'SATI' on the funeral pyre of her husband when the latter died. As such, this temple is of historic importance also. All secret meetings of the Maratha rulers used to take place here during the Peshava period.

There are two or three legends about this temple and the name Chintamani given to Lord Ganesha. One of them goes as under :

Prince Gana, the son of king Abhijeet, was a brave wanior but was very short tempered. Once he went to Kapil Rishi where he saw a diamond named Chintamani. It was a magic diamond and had the power to bring forth anything that the possessor wanted. Gana wanted this diamond; and when the Rishi refused it, he snatched it from him. Kapil Rishi worshipped Vinayaka who was pleased with him and promised to get back the diamond from Gana. Vinayaka destroyed Gana and got back the diamond. By that time Kapil had lost all desire for the diamond. It was not taken by Kapil Rishi, but instead he wanted Ganeshji to stay there. Ganeshji took up the name of this diamond and remained there under a Kadamb tree and came to be known as Chintamani Vinayaka. The village was known as Kadamb tirth.

6. Sri Girijatmaj Of Lenyadri

Lenyadri is 5 Kms. off Junner. Junner is 230 Kms. from Bombay, and is connected to Talegaon (88 Kms.) and also to Pune. From Junner one has to trek 5 Kms. to the temple on foot or by bullock cart.

'Lenyadri' means a mountain cave. "Lena" — in Marathi means a cave. This temple of Ganesha is carved in a mountain For going up the mountain there are 283 steps.

The temple has a hall of 54 x 51 feet carved into the moun- tain. It is interesting to note that such a big hall exists without any supporting pillar within it. The idol of Lord Ganesha does not have a proper carving of its shape and it is told that Lord Ganesha is sitting with His back towards the entrance of the temple, facing the other side of the mountain. Efforts to dig from other side to see the face of the Lord could not succeed so far. There are other idols on the sides, which are being worshipped, but these have been added in the recent past. There are 17 or 18 caves in the mountain, but they are all in total darkness and no one dares to get into them.

The legend connected with the temple runs thus :

Goddess Parvati (also know as Girija) desired to hava Vinayaka as Her son. So She did Tapes for 12 years at this place. Vinayaka was pleased and agreed to be Heģ son. Soon He incarnated as Girija's son. It is said that Lord Ganesha spent about 15 years in these caves during childhood with Girija. There was a deep forest in this area, and the Asuras used to disturb the yagnas of Rishis. Ganesha destroyed them and rendered the place trouble free. Atmaj means son, and since Lord Ganesha was born to Girija, He came to be known as Girijatmaj.

7. Sri Vighneswar Of Ozar

Ozar is approachable from Junner by state transport buses. For going to Junner, regular buses from Bombay and Pune are available. The temple here is facing east. This temple was recently renovated during the period 1958-1968.

The legend connected with the temple is as follows :

There lived a king named Abhinandan at Hemwati. He was very ambitious. He wanted to perform a yagna and conquer the kingdom of Indra. the lord of heavens. When Indra came to know of this. he remembered the devil Vighnasur whose 'profession' was to disturb the vedic rituals. The gods went to Ganesha, Who fought Vighnasur and defeated him. The Asura asked for pardon 'and also requested the Lord to carry his name with that of His. The place where the battle was fought was Ozar, and Lord Ganesha here came to be known as Vighne- shwar Vinayaka, the conqueror of Vighnasur.

8. Sri Mahaganapati Of Ranjaimgaon

Ranjangaon is 50 Kms. from Pune and buses are available to reach this place. The temple dates back to 9th or 10th century. Its sanctum sanctorum was built by the senior Madhavrao Peshwa in 1768. The temple is east-facing. There is a basement below the temple where a small idol of Ganesha is installed, which has 20 hands and 10 trunks.

It is said that this is the original idol of the temple

The legend of the temple goes thus:

Grudsamad was a devotee of Lord Ganesha. A son was born to him. When he grew up. he wanted to conquer all the three Lokas. He was told by his father to pray to Lord Gajanan for the fulfilment of his wish. After intensive Japas Lord Gajanan was pleased, and gave him the boon that nobody except Lord Shankara could destroy him. He also gave three Puras, of steel, silver and gold to the prince. He became an Asura in his later years known as Tripurasur.

Tripurasura conquered all the three Lokas. He and his two army chiefs started humiliating all gods and human beings. Finally the gods went to Lord Siva and prayed to him for destruction of Tripurasura. Lord Siva worshipped Lord Ganesha and finally killed the devil. The place, where Lord Siva wor- shipped Lord Ganesha came to be known as Ranjangaon.




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