Ashtavinayak Temples

The Ashtavinayak Temples

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Often called the God of Success and Prosperity, Lord Ganapathi or Ganesha is one of the most beloved Gods worshiped in Hinduism. He is known by various names like Ganesha, Vinayaka, Gajaraja, Vigneshwara, Vignahartha and Lambodara. He is regarded as the “Remover of Obstacles in one’s life”. As per tradition, the Lord is worshiped by all sects of Hinduism. He is also considered as the patron God of Arts and Sciences. The Ashtavinayak Temples are a group of eight holy temples situated in the state of Maharashtra. Each of these temples is associated with legends of Lord Ganesha and is considered as a part of pilgrimage dedicated to the Lord. The Ashtavinayak Temples should be visited in a pre-determined sequence. It should begin with Sri Moreshwar Temple followed by the Siddhivinayak Temple, Ballaleshwar Temple, Varadvinayak Temple, Chintamani Temple, Girijatmaj Temple and the Vignahar Temple. The last temple in the list is the Mahaganapathi Temple at Ranjangaon, Pune. It is believed that the pilgrimage is complete only when the devotee visits the first temple again after visiting all the other seven temples.

Ashtavinayak TemplesMoreshwar or the Mayureshwar Ashtavinayak Temple

The primary temple that one must visit during the Ashtavinayak pilgrimage is the Mayureshwar Ashtavinayak Temples situated at Morgaon near Pune. This is the starting point as well as the ending of the journey. The temple is a black stone structure built during the reign of the Bahmani Sultanate (14th – 16th century).

The Temple has four gates built with a slight Islamic architectural influence. The four corners have minarets giving it an appearance of a mosque. Eight idols of Lord Ganesha grace the eight directions or corners of the Temple. They are of the form of Ekadanta, Mahodar, Gajanana, Lambodar, Vikata, Vignaraja, Dhumravarna and Vakratunda.

Legend of the Mayureshwar Ashtavinayak Temples

The King of Mithila, Chakrapani and his wife Ugra were childless for a long time. They prayed to Lord Surya for a child. He was appeased and blessed him with a child named Sindhu. He was blessed with the full bowl of Amrit as a boon and was reminded that he will remain immortal as long as the bowl remains unbroken. Sindhu swallowed the bowl to protect it. He turned into a corrupt demon that terrorized and kept even the Gods as captives. The Gods approached Lord Ganesha for help. He descended to Earth on a peacock and slayed the demon, took out the bowl from his stomach and broke it. Morgaon is believed to be the place where the head of the demon Sindhu fell on Earth.

Significance of the Mayureshwar Ashtavinayak Temples

  • The Ganesha Purana mentions the legends and the significance of Morgaon in as much as 22 chapters. It is believed that Morgaon is one of the three highly sacred sites for Lord Ganesha, the other two being Mount Kailash in the Swargaloka and Adishesha’s abode in the Pataala Loka. It is also believed that at the time of Pralaya or the End of the World, Lord Ganesha will appear and take abode here.
  • It is believed that the original idol of Lord Ganesha was consecrated here by Lord Brahma himself. The idol was small and made of sand, iron and diamonds. Eventually, the Pandavas enclosed this idol in a copper sheet and placed it behind the currently worshiped idol for safekeeping.
  • The idol of Lord Ganesha is unique. He is represented in a sitting posture with three eyes and the trunk facing the left side. The eyes and the navel are decorated with diamonds. The King of Snakes (Nagaraj) can be seen on top along with Buddhi and Siddhi on either side.

Mayureshwar Ashtavinayak Temples Timings

The Temple is open to devotees from 5 AM till 10 PM. The Prakshal Pooja, Shodashopachar Pooja, Panchopachar Pooja and the Shej Aarti are some of the rituals that are performed every day.

Siddhivinayak Ashtavinayak Temple

The second temple in the Ashtavinayak series of Temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha is the Siddhivinayak Temple situated at Siddhatek in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The Temple is located on a hillock besides River Bhima.

Legend of the Siddhivinayak Ashtavinayak Temple

According to the legend, the demons Madhu and Kaitabha originated from the ears of Lord Vishnu during his Yoganidra (a state of consciousness between waking up and sleeping). The two demons obtained a boon from Goddess Shakti as per which they cannot be killed by any Deva or Asura unless they want to die willingly. At that time, Lord Brahma was contemplating the creation of the universe and for which he required the Vedas. The demons stole the Vedas from Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma requested Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu woke up from his deep sleep and took the form of a Hayagriva (a horse faced creature). The battle between the Hayagriva and the two demons lasted five thousand years. Lord Vishnu realized that these demons were invincible until they were relieved of the boon granted by Goddess Shakti. He was also advised by Lord Shiva to see the blessings of Lord Ganesha before slaying the demons.

It is believed that Siddhatek was the place where Lord Vishnu asked for Lord Ganesha’s blessings which the later granted happily.

Significance of the Siddhivinayak Ashtavinayak Temple

  • It is believed that Lord Vishnu himself constructed the original unique four-door temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. However, due to natural reasons, the temple perished. Under the Peshwa rule, the temple was reconstructed and consecrated with the original idol.
  • The idol of the deity is Swayambhu in nature, 3 feet tall and 2.5 feet wide. The trunk is turned towards right representing the fierce form of Lord Ganesha. The idols of Riddhi and Siddhi are placed on one lap. The idols of Jaya and Vijaya, who are the gatekeepers of Lord Vishnu’s abode Vaikuntam flank the Lord on both the sides.
  • This is the only temple among the eight Ashtavinayak Temples where the trunk of Lord Ganesha’s idol is turned towards the right. It is a belief that this Lord is difficult to please but grants Siddhi (Success) to the devotee.

Siddhivinayak Ashtavinayak Temple  Timings

The Temple opens at 4:15 AM and closes at 9 PM daily.

Ballaleshwar Ashtavinayak Temple

The Ballaleshwar Temple situated at Pali Village in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. The Temple is the third in sequence of which the Ashtavinayak Temples must be visited. The Temple was renovated and extended by Baburao Phadnavis and his son Morobo Dada Phadnavis in 1770.

The architecture of the Temple is exemplary. The Peshwas built the shrine in the shape of “Shri”. Two lakes are situated on the two sides of the Temple.

Legend of the Ballaleshwar Ashtavinayak Temple

According to the legend, in the Treta Yuga,  a boy named Ballal was born to a businessman named Kalyan and his wife Indumati. The boy was an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha and usually worshiped stones as the Lord along with his friends. One day, when he was roaming in the forests, he saw a huge stone. He decorated the stone and worshiped the stone after idolizing it as Lord Ganesha. Ballal and his friends were so engrossed in the devotion that they forgot to return to their homes. The parents complained to Kalyan about Ballal. Kalyan in his anger caught hold of Ballal and tied him to a tree. He was also beaten up badly. However, Ballal continued his worship. Lord Ganesha was impressed and gave him darshan as a Brahmin. Since then, the Lord came to be known as Ballal Vinayak or the Eeshwar (Lord) of Ballal.

Significance of the Ballaleshwar Ashtavinayak Temple

  • The idol of the main deity, Lord Ballaleshwar is believed to be Swayambhu in nature. The idol sits on a stone platform. The trunk is turned towards left. The eyes and the navel of the deity are studded with diamonds.
  • The idol is dressed up as a Brahmin. This is the only idol of Lord Ganesha to be dressed up in such a way in the world.
  • The Dhundi Vinayak Temple situated just behind the Temple is extremely unique as it is believed that this is the stone that was broken partially by Kalyan in his anger.
  • The Temple is built in such a way that on the day of Winter Solstice (December 21), the rising sun’s rays fall directly on the idol illuminating it.

Ballaleshwar Ashtavinayak Temples Timings

The Temple is opened daily from 5:30 AM to 10 PM.

Varadvinayak Ashtavinayak Temples

The Temple of Varadvinayak is one of the sacred Ashtavinayak Temples situated in the village of Mahad belonging to the Raigarh district of Maharashtra. Lord Ganesha is worshiped here as Varadvinayaka, meaning the giver of success and wealth.

The Temple is small, 8 feet by 8 feet long with a gold plated dome. The Temple is surrounded by intricately carved statues of Elephants on four sides. A Gomukh ar a Cow’s mouth can be seen emanating water on the Northern side of the Temple. The original temple is believed to have been constructed by Gritsamada in the Treta Yuga. However, the Ganesha idol was found submerged in a lake near the Temple by Dhondu Paudkar in 1690 AD. In 1725, Subedar of Kalyan, Ramji Mahadev Biwalkar built the Temple again.

Legend of the Varadvinayak Ashtavinayak Temples

According to the legend, Prince Rukmangada of Kaudinya was a handsome and virtous Prince, loved by all. Once during hunting, he stopped to rest at Sage Vachaknavi’s home. The Sage’s wife Mukunda fell in love with him and made physical advances to him, which he deftly refused. Mukunda became sad and Lord Indra, taking pity on her came to her home disguised as Rukmangada and fulfilled her wishes. A son named Gritsamada was born to them. When the son grew up, he came to know about the truth of him being an illegitimate son of his parents. He grew sad and wandered into the forests praying all the time to Lord Ganesha to grant him inner solace and peace. Lord Ganesha appeared to him and granted him his wish. Gritsamada requested the Lord to make the forest as his abode and bless the people who visit him. Lord Ganesha agreed and took form as Varadvinayak.

Significance of the Varadvinayak Ashtavinayak Temples

  • The idol of Sri Varadvinayak is believed to be Swayambhu in nature. The deity appears in a seated position with the trunk turned left. The Temple worships two idols, the old and the original one covered with Sindur and the new one made of Marble.
  • The Varadvinayak Temple is the only Ganesh Temple where the devotees are allowed to enter the Sanctum and pay respects to the Lord himself at proximity.
  • According to the local belief, devotees who eat the Coconut Prasad during the Maghi Chaturthi are blessed with a son.
  • The Nandadeep that burns at the Temple has been continuously burning since 1892.

Varadvinayak Ashtavinayak Temple Timings

The Temple opens at 6 AM and closes at 9 PM every day.

Chintamani Ashtavinayak Temple

The Chintamani Temple is situated in the village of Theur, also known as Kadambapur in Maharashtra. Theur is situated at the confluence of three small rivers named Bhima, Mula and Mutha. The exact date of construction of the Temple is unknown but it is suspected that Sri Daharnidhar Maharaj Devji, descendent of Saint Morya Gosavji built the Temple. Madhavrao Peshwa erected a Sabhamandap during his reign.

Legend of the Chintamani Ashtavinayak Temple

As per the legend, King Abhijeet and his wife Gunavati had a son named Ganasura. He was a strong but greedy prince. Once, Ganasura visited the Ashram of Sage Kapila. The Sage showed great hospitality with the help of the Chintamani stone that he possessed. Ganasura came to know about the stone and wanted to acquire it. However, Sage Kapila refused his offer. Enraged, Ganasura forcibly took away the stone. Sage Kapila took advice from Goddess Durga and requested Lord Ganesha’s help. The Lord fought a battle with Ganasura under a Kadamba tree and defeated him. He took back the Chintamani to the Sage, who gifted the stone back to Lord Ganesha as an honor. The precious stone was hung around the neck of Ganesha and hence, he came to be known as Lord Chintamani.

Significance of the Chintamani Ashtavinayak Temple

  • The idol of the presiding deity, Lord Chintamani is Swayambhu in nature. The idol faces east and has a Mani or a precious stone in the neck region of the Lord. The eyes of the deity are studded with diamonds.
  • It is believed that by obtaining a darshan of Lord Chintamani, one can get peace of mind and spiritual satisfaction in his or her life.
  • Historically, the idol is the family deity of Shri Madhavrao Peshwa. The famous ruler is believed to have spent his last days at the Temple.
  • The village of Theur is also believed to be the place where Saint Morya Gosavji performed penance and was given darshan by Lord Ganesha appearing as two tigers.

Chintamani Ashtavinayak Temple Timings

The Temple opens at 6 AM and closes at 10 PM daily.

Girijatmaj Ashtavinayak Temple

The Temple of Lord Ganesha, known as Girijatmaj is situated at Lenyadri hills in the Pune district of Maharashtra. The Lord Girijatmaj shrine is dated back to 1st century AD. One has to climb 283 steps to reach the entrance of the cave. During the conversion of the cave from a Buddhist shrine to a Hindu shrine, several paintings depicting Ganesha’s childhood, Marriage and battles were done on the stone walls.

The name of Girijatmaj is unique and can be interpreted in two ways. Girija is the other name of Goddess Parvati whereas Atmaja means Son. So the word Girijatmaj would mean “The Son of Parvati” referring to Lord Ganesha. Alternatively, it can also mean “Mountain born”.

Legend of the Girijatmaj Ashtavinayak Temple

The Temple’s legend is controversial and based on the belief that Lord Ganesha is the supreme power. According to it, Goddess Parvati performed penance here to become the mother of Lord Ganesha. Appeased, Lord Ganesha grants her wish and states that he will be born as her son. Eventually on the day of Bhadrapada Shuddha Chaturthi, the Goddess created an idol of Lord Ganesha with dirt from her body. Lord Ganesha fused his life into the idol and came to be known as Girijatmaj.

Significance of the Girijatmaj Ashtavinayak Temple

  • The Temple is only one among the Ashtavinayak Temples to be located on a hillock and inside an earlier Buddhist shrine.
  • The Temple is carved out of a single stone and has no pillars supporting the entire structure. The Temple faces south which is rare. The shrine was built in such a way that no room remains dark throughout the day even though it is a closed cave complex.
  • The idol of Lord Ganesha is believed to be in an infant form and is carved in a simple manner on a rock. One cannot circumambulate the deity.

Girijatmaj Ashtavinayak Temple Timings

The Temple is a part of the site that is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Hence, the devotees are allowed to visit the shrine only from sunrise till sunset.

Vigneshwara Ashtavinayak Temple

The Vigneshwara Temple is situated in the village of Ozar in the Pune district of Maharashtra. The form of Ganesh worshiped here is Vigneshwara,meaning “Remover of Obstacles”. The Temple is seventh in the pre-determined sequence in visiting the Ashtavinayak Temples.

The Temple faces east and has a spacious courtyard. The entrance of the Temple is flanked by sculptures of two Dvarapalakas (Gatekeepers). The central Temple structure has three entrances, the eastern entrance being the main one. It is believed by historians and the locals that the Temple was built by the Peshwa ruler Chimaji Appa after defeating the Portuguese in late 1700’s. The spire or Shikhar of the Temple is covered with Gold.

Legend of the Vigneshwara Ashtavinayak Temple

According to the legend associated with the Temple, King Abhinandan conducted a Yagna with the objective of overthrowing the kingdom of heaven. Alarmed Lord Indra sent the demon Kalapurush to destroy the Yagna. Kalapurush successfully destroyed the Yagna. However, he got carried away with his power and assumed the title of Vignasura, meaning the Creator of Obstacles. He systematically destroyed all Vedic rituals and Poojas that were performed by several sages and created havoc. The Gods approached Lord Ganesha for help, who defeated Vignasura. The demon realized his arrogance and surrendered to Lord Ganesha asking for mercy. Lord Ganesha promised retribution on the condition that he will not interrupt whenever Lord Ganesha is worshiped. Thus, Lord Ganesha came to be known as Vigneshwara.

Significance of the Vigneshwara Ashtavinayak Temple

  • The idol of the deity is believed to be Swayambhu in nature. The Lord faces east with his trunk towards left. The deity is flanked by Riddhi and Siddhi on his either side.
  • The idol of the deity possesses precious stones. The eyes are studded with Rubies, the forehead is embellished with diamonds and navel is studded with semi-precious stones.

Vigneshwara Ashtavinayak Temple Timings

The Temple is open to devotees from 5 AM to 11 PM. However, darshan is closed between 11 AM to 4 PM in the afternoon.

Mahaganapathi Ashtavinayak Temple

The Temple dedicated to Lord Mahaganapathi is situated at Ranjangaon, 50 km from Pune. The Temple is the last in the sequence of the Ashtavinayak Temples to be visited. The representation of Lord Ganesh as Mahaganapathi is believed to be the most powerful and fierce form of the Lord.

The Temple is believed to have been constructed during the 9th century AD. The idol that is worshiped currently has been donated by the Khollam family in Ranjangaon. The idol faces east in a cross-legged position with the trunk pointing left. Both Riddhi and Siddhi flank the deity on either sides.

Legend of the Mahaganapathi Ashtavinayak Temple

  • The legend associated with the Temple has two distinct versions. According to one version, Sage Gritsamad’s son Tripurasur was a well-learned young boy and a devotee of Lord Ganesha. Pleased by his devotion and prayers, Lord Ganesha blessed the boy and presented him with three pura’s made of precious metals, which can be destroyed only by Lord Shiva. Over a period of time, Tripurasur grew to be vain and created chaos in the world. Even Lord Brahma and Vishnu were disturbed by his atrocities and were forced to go into hiding. Sage Narada advised the frightened gods that they should take the help of Lord Ganesh. The Gods decided to invoke Lord Ganesh, who appeared and accepted to help them.
  • Lord Ganesh disguised as a Brahmin and met Tripurasur under the pretext of creating three flying planes. In return, he ordered Tripurasur to bring the Chintamani idol from Mount Kailash. The greedy Tripurasur went to Mount Kailash and fought with Lord Shiva for the idol. Lord Shiva realized that he had not offered his prayers to Lord Ganesh first, and hence was unable to destroy the pura’s or defeat him. He recited the Sadaakshar Mantra and invoked Lord Ganesh, who emerged and gave him the instructions for defeating Tripurasur. Lord Shiva followed the directions and defeated the greedy Tripurasur at also created a temple for Lord Ganesh at that spot.
  • As per another legend, when proceeding to the war against the demon Tripurasur, Lord Shiva fails to seek the blessing of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha breaks the axle of the chariot that Lord Shiva was traveling in. Realizing his mistake, Lord Shiva pays respect to Lord Shiva and then proceeds to a victorious battle against the demon. In honor of his son, he is supposed to have consecrated the idol at the site.

Significance of the Mahaganapathi Ashtavinayak Temple

  • The idol of the deity is Swayambhu in nature that is Lord Ganesha is believed to have appeared himself in the form of Mahaganapathi at Ranjangaon.
  • The architecture of the Temple is such that at sunset, the sun rays fall on the idol of the deity directly illuminating him.
  • It is a belief that the original idol of the Lord is hidden in the basement of the Temple. The idol is supposed to have 10 trunks and 20 hands. The idol is called Mahotkat. However, the Temple priests deny the existence of the Idol.

Mahaganapathi Ashtavinayak Temple Timings

The Temple opens at 5:30 AM and closes at 10

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