Lenyadri Ganpati Temple – Ashtavinayak
- 1 Lenyadri Ganpati Temple – Ashtavinayak
Lenyadri Ganpati Temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesh and is one of the eight Ashtavinayak Temples of in Maharashtra. Lenyadri Ganpati temple is located in Lenyadri village, near Junnar. The temple, also known as Girijatmaj, gets its name from the words Girija (Parvathi) and Atmaj (son). It is interesting to note that 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 has to be visited sixth.
History and Legend
- 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 was reborn 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. The little boy was called as 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
- Lord Girijatmaj is believed to be Lord Ganesh’s manifestation as an infant Lord
- Lenyadri Ganpati Temple is the eight cave amidst a cluster of 30 rock-cut Buddhist caves
- It is believed that the caves were carved by the Pandavas during their exile period
- Lenyadri Ganpati temple is south-facing and is monolithic – carved out from a single rock
- While Lenyadri Ganpati temple faces south, the idol faces north. 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 idol is carved from a rock, devotees cannot circumambulate. However, they are free to worship the lord themselves
- 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 is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and does not have electricity. Therefore, the temple operates only from sunrise to sunset.
Poojas and Rituals
Lenyadri Ganpati Temple priests perform the Panchamrit Pooja every morning. This pooja is considered to be an important one at this temple.
Rituals performed 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. In Lenyadri, Lord Girijatmaj’s birthday is celebrated in a big way during Bhadrapat Shudh (August / September). On Ganesh Chaturthi, various bhajans and cultural programmes. 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. The celebrations are held from Magh Shudh 1 to Magh Shudh 6 (January – February). During this period, an Akhand Harinaam Saptah is conducted.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By 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. At Junnar, pilgrims may choose between taxis, rickshaws, jeeps and buses to reach Lenyadri. Palanquin services can be availed by pilgrims who are unable to climb the 300+ rock cut steps.
By 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.
By air: The nearest airport is at Pune, which is well connected to all major Indian cities.
Where to stay
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 the Junnar.
Where to eat
There are no restaurants at Lenyadri except for the Yatri Niwas which offer food options. 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 are believed to have functioned as Buddhist Monasteries from Lord Buddha’s time. The seventh cave is the Girijatmaj Temple. Other caves are believed to be 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: This is the first of the Ashtavinayak temples. 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. The Mayureshwar Temple is located at Moregaon, 160 km from the Girijatmaj Temple.
- Siddhi Vinayak Temple, Siddhatek: This temple is the second in the list of Ashtavinayak Temples. Lord Vishnu is believed to have appeased Lord Ganesh at this place before slaying the demons Madhu and Kaitabh. Lord Siddhi Vinayak is considered to be the only idol with the trunk pointing towards the right. The Siddhi Vinayak Temple is in Siddhatek, 160km from the Girijatmaj Temple.
- Ballaleshwar Temple, Pali: This temple is the third in the list of Ashtavinayak Temples. As the name suggests this temple is named after Lord Ganesh’s devotee Ballal. This is the only Ganesh Temple named after a devotee. The Ballaleshwar Temple is in Pali, 180 km from the Girijatmaj Temple.
- Varad Vinayak Temple, Mahad: This temple is the fourth in the list of Ashtavinayak Temples. 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: This temple is the fifth in the list of Ashtavinayak temples. Lord Ganesh is believed to have retrieved the invaluable jewel – Chintamani from a greedy demon and given it back to sage Kapila. The sage rewarded Lord Ganesh by placing around Lord Ganesh’s neck and hence was known as Chintamani Vinayak. The Chintamani Temple is located at Theur, 110 km from the Girijatmaj Temple.
- Vighneshwar Vinayak Temple, Ozar: This temple is the seventh in the list of Ashtavinayak Temples. 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 located at Ozar, 87 km from the Girijatmaj
- Mahaganapati Temple, Ranjangaon: This is the last of the Ashtavinayak Temples. Lord Shiva is believed to have worshipped Lord Ganesh here before proceeding to defeat the demon Tripurasura. The Mahaganapati Temple is located at Ranjangaon, 86 km from the Girijatmaj.