Lenyadri Ganpati Temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is one of the eight Ashtavinayak Temples in Maharashtra. The temple, also known as Girijatmaj, gets its name from the words Girija (Parvathi) and Atmaj (son). Interestingly, this is the only Ashtavinayak temple situated on a mountain. If one has to follow a sequence when visiting the Ashtavinayak Temples, Lenyadri Ganpati Temple is the sixth.
Lenyadri Ganpati Temple History
Lenyadri Ganpati Temple is a cave temple and is amidst 30 Buddhist caves that date back to the 3rd century
Legend of Girijatmaj: According to Ganesh Puran, Goddess Sati reincarnated as Goddess Parvati and wished to give birth to Ganesh. She did severe penance on the Lenyadri mountain. Lord Gajanan was pleased with her penance and granted her wish. On the fourth day of Bhadrapad Shuddh or Chaturthi day, Goddess Parvati wiped her body and used the dirt to create an idol.
Lord Gajanan entered this idol and stood before her a young boy with six arms and three eyes. His name was Girijatmaj or the son of Parvati. This incarnation of Lord Ganesh – Lord Girijatmaj is believed to have stayed at Lenyadri for nearly 15 years.
Significance of Lenyadri Ganpati Temple
According to Ganesh Puran, this place is also known as Jirnapur or Lekhan Parbat. Devotees believe that Lord Girijatmaj was Lord Ganesh’s manifestation as an infant Lord. Lenyadri Ganpati Temple is the eighth cave amidst a cluster of 30 rock-cut Buddhist caves.
Devotees believe that the Pandavas carved the caves during their exile period. Lenyadri Ganpati temple is south-facing and monolithic – carved out from a single rock. While Lenyadri Ganpati temple faces south, the idol faces north. Also, one can notice that the idol is not a free-standing statue, but rather carved on a rock, with its head turned to the left.
Since the Lenyadri Ganpati is rock-cut, devotees cannot circumambulate. However, they are free to worship the lord themselves. Furthermore, the main mandap is 53 feet long and interestingly there are no pillars supporting the entire structure.
The main mandap also known as the sabha mandap has 18 indents or small rooms that pilgrims use for meditation. Devotees need to climb 307 steps to reach the temple. Once there, a serene atmosphere, with pleasant vibrations from the Lekhan mountain and a beautiful view of the nearby Kukadi river is a treat for the senses.
Lenyadri Ganpati Temple Timings
The Temple opens at 6 am and closes at 6 pm.
Lenyadri Ganpati Temple Poojas and Rituals
The temple priests perform the Panchamrit Pooja every morning. This pooja is considered to be an important one at this temple.
Festivals celebrated at Lenyadri Ganpati Temple
Bhadrapat: Lord Ganesh’s birth celebrations known as Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi is a key festival in the state of Maharashtra. Further, in Lenyadri, devotees celebrate Lord Girijatmaj’s birthday in a big way during Bhadrapat Shudh (August / September). In addition, devotees organize various bhajans and cultural programmes on Ganesh Chaturthi. Also, Bullock Cart race is a unique and popular event during the Chaturthi celebrations.
Magh: The Chaturthi during Magh is an important time for celebrations at the Girijatmaj Temple. People celebrate it from Magh Shudh 1 to Magh Shudh 6 (January – February). Also, priests conduct an Akhand Harinaam Saptah during this period.
How to reach Lenyadri Ganpati Temple
Road: Lenyadri is nearly 95 km from Pune. Junnar is the nearest town at a 5 km distance. Several state-run buses operate from Pune and Mumbai to Junnar. In addition, pilgrims may choose between taxis, rickshaws, jeeps and buses at Junnar to reach Lenyadri. Moreover, palanquin services are available for pilgrims who are not able to climb the 300+ rock cut steps.
Rail: The nearest railway station is at Pune, at 94 km from Girijatmaj. The Pune station is well connected by trains operating to major Indian cities.
Air: The nearest airport is at Pune, which is well connected to all major Indian cities.
Lenyadri Ganpati Temple Accommodation
Lenyadri Ganpati Temple trust operates Yatri Niwas and offers accommodation at nominal charges. Pilgrims also stay at Pune and drive down to Lenyadri.
There are few resorts that function at Junnar.
Where to eat
There are no restaurants at Lenyadri except for the Yatri Niwas which offers food options. However, devotees may opt to eat at the smaller restaurants on the highway or at Junnar.
Lenyadri Buddhist caves: Girijatmaj Temple is amidst a collection of 30 manmade rock-cut caves. These caves have functioned as Buddhist Monasteries from Lord Buddha’s time. The seventh cave is the Girijatmaj Temple. However, other caves were either chapels or living spaces for the monks. Caves 6 to 14 seem to indicate that they housed Chaitya grihas or chapels. One of the caves also houses a perpetual watering hole.
Bhima Gada: Adjacent to the Lenyadri Ganpati Temple, cave no. 6 houses a Buddhist stupa. This is popularly known as Bhima’s Gada. This stupa has good acoustics that allows sounds to echo.
Other Ashtavinayak Temples
Mayureshwar Temple, Morgaon: Devotees begin and end their journey at the Mayureshwar Temple. The temple got its name after the legend of Mayureshwar – Lord Ganesh riding a peacock, who defeated a demon at this place. It is at Moregaon, 160 km from the Girijatmaj Temple.
Siddhi Vinayak Temple, Siddhatek: Lord Vishnu appeased Lord Ganesh at this place before slaying the demons Madhu and Kaitabh. Also, Lord Siddhi Vinayak is the only idol with the trunk pointing towards the right. It is in Siddhatek, 160km from the Girijatmaj Temple.
Ballaleshwar Temple, Pali: This temple derives its name from Lord Ganesh’s devotee Ballal. This is the only Ganesh Temple named after a devotee. It is in Pali, 180 km from the Girijatmaj Temple.
Varad Vinayak Temple, Mahad: Lord Ganesh is referred to as Varadha Vinayak, the Lord who grants boons and wishes. The Varadha Vinayak Temple is in Mahad, 146 km from the Girijatmaj
Chintamani Temple, Theur: Lord Ganesh retrieved the invaluable jewel – Chintamani from a greedy demon and gave it back to sage Kapila. The sage rewarded Lord Ganesh and placed it around Lord Ganesh’s neck. As a result, he was known as Chintamani Vinayak. The Chintamani Temple is in Theur, 110 km from the Girijatmaj Temple.
Vighneshwar Vinayak Temple, Ozar: Vighnasur, the demon was sent by Lord Indra to disturb King Abhinandan’s prayer. The troubled devotees turned to Lord Ganesh who defeated the demon at this place. The Vighneswar Vinayak Temple is in Ozar, 87 km from the Girijatmaj