Ashtavinayaka means “eight Ganeshas”. Lord Ganesh is the Hindu deity of unity, prosperity, learning, and removing obstacles. Ashtavinayaka yatra trip refers to a pilgrimage to these eight distinct temples of Ganesh. Each of these temples has its own individual legend and history, as distinct from each other as the idols in each temple
It all started when we bumped into a friend the other day on his return from a trip so known as the Ashtavinayaka Yatra. Just took him 2 days to complete, he mentioned. It turned out to be an effective trigger
My research started from knowing their names, their location and setting up a route to complete the circuit optimally. Even before I could learn and remember the names, I found out that the the most optimal route is not at most the appropriate. Apparently, if one decides to complete this trip with some religious faith and devotion, then there has to be a route that needs to be followed.
Shree Moreshwar of Moregaon is the first temple to be visited while on the pilgrimage followed by Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Thevur, Lenyandri, Ozar, Ranjangaon. The pilgrimage is considered concluded with a second visit to Moregaon at the end. All these idols are self-existent Swayambhu effigies.
|1||Mayureshwar Temple||Morgaon, Pune district||Start and the Finish Line|
|2||Siddhivinayak Temple||Siddhatek, Ahmednagar district||A sacred temple to gain siddhis|
|3||Ballaleshwar Temple||Pali, Raigad district||A swayanbhu idol awaits you|
|4||Varadavinayak Temple||Mahad, Raigad district||Offer salutations to two Ganesha idols|
|5||Chintamani Temple||Theur, Pune district||For peace & spiritual attainment|
|6||Girijatmaj Temple||Lenyadri, Pune district||The Hill Temple|
|7||Vighneshwar Temple||Ozar, Pune district||Gain the blessing of overcoming obstacles|
|8||Mahaganapati Temple||Ranjangaon, Pune district||Experience the Mahaganpati form|
I started calling this a Zig Zag Circuit. We started our journey early from Thane, with an intent to complete the long drive to Morgoan and Siddhatek, covering two temples and taking a halt at Pune
Moreshwar of Moregaon, also known as Mayureshwara (Lord Ganesha riding a peacock) is the first temple visited by the pilgrims. It is considered as the most important centre for worshiping of Ganesha.
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
At the entrance of the temple, an idol of ‘Nandi’ is positioned facing Lord Ganesha. This is considered unusual as a Nandi is normally positioned in front of Lord Shiva temples. According to the prevailing beliefs regarding the idol of Nandi, in ancient times Lord Shiva and Nandi stayed here to take rest, but later Nandi refused to leave the place. Since then Nandi is situated here. Both Nandi and the mouse are posted as guards of the temple.
Given the importance of this temple, we experienced a large crowd visiting here. With long queues and people gathering in groups, the local authorities and constantly pushing the devotees out of the temple as soon as possible. “Darshan” turned out to be for split seconds, but it was still worth it
God Vishnu is supposed to have vanquished the asuras Madhu and Kaitabh after propitiating Ganesha here. The Temple is located on a hillock beside River Bhima. This is the only idol of these eight with the trunk positioned to the right.
As per the plan this was the last temple for Day 1. We were to head to Pune for a stopover and Day 2 began with a early morning start towards Pali. En route Pune we noticed road signs for Theor. This is where we had to visit Shree Chantamani as the fifth temple on Day 2.
Theor was only at a detour of 3.5 Kms. Here we were, at a point where we needed to decide if we wanted to break the very philosophy we started our journey with; – a want to compete the circuit in the sequence its supposed to be done or should we just skip one sequence.
The decision was though very simple, I do 3.5 Kms today or drive 170 Kms back tomorrow and then head back home covering 180 Kms. AND we had to break the sequence.
It is believed that a visit to Lord Chintamani, one can achieve peace of mind and spiritual satisfaction. The idol of the presiding deity, Lord Chintamani is Swayambhu in nature. It faces east and has a precious stone in the neck region of the idol. The eyes of the deity are studded with diamonds
Post spending a fabulous night at one of our relatives, we started a short Day 2 towards Pali
This temple named after Ballal, a devotee of Ganesha is located in Pali. 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 Temple is built in such a way that on the day of Winter Solstice (December 21), the first rays from the rising sun’s fall directly on the idol illuminating it.
Pali and Mahad temples are very close. To our luck, other than the Morgoan Temple, we did not witness a large crowd. This gave us a lot of time in the temple to pray and achieve solitude. Next stop was Mahad, a place that I had visited multiple times in the past. I knew few inner roads near the temple that would allow us an entry from the back. The idea was to skip the traffic and get to the temple as close as possible in a vehicle.
We are generally loud people. And people need to tell us that we are loud but until then it is very difficult for one to figure out if we are angry, generally irritated, happy or in a normal state of mind. We can be obnoxious; but it helps … mostly 😀
Just when we were discussing how lucky we were to not get caught in long lines and indefinite wait, we reached the Temple of Shree Varadvinayak only to witness a crowd this size all over again. Then there was this news on the radio on how the 3rd variant of Carona was affecting the world and we contemplated if a mask should be worn in the temple or not.
All This – LOUD 😦
Fortunately for us, a godsend heard us “Loud and Clear”, walked by us and uttered the most blissful words of my life “Follow me“. Next step was in the temple, right by the idol of Shree Varadvinayak.
BLESSED we were
#4. Shree Varadvinayak
According to the prevailing belief, Varadvinayak bestows the boon of the fulfillment of all the wishes of the devotees. There is a lamp in the temple called Nanddeep, which is continuously lit since 1892.
A Gomukh ar a Cow’s mouth can be seen emanating water on the Northern side of the Temple. This is the only temple where the devotees are allowed to enter the Sanctum and pay respects to the Lord himself at proximity.
There is a Shree Dattatreya Temple by the pond behind the Ganesha temple. He is described in the Mahabharata as an exceptional Rishi (sage) with extraordinary insights and knowledge, who is adored and raised to a Guru and an Avatar of Vishnu in the Puranas.
Since we had covered Theor a day before, it was time to head home. An early close to the day was good. Day 3 extremely long and some rest could help
Day 3- This was the longest day of the three. We had to cover around 450 Kms and 3 temples. we started early. Very early … Reaching Lenyadri meant crossing the most congested area of extended Mumbai. Even leaving early did not really help us with the cause, but finally in about 4 , 4 1/2 hours we had crossed Malshej ghats. This is a place where the entire Mumbai must visit on a rainy day. I could not imagine it the way we saw it in December. My first, I believe
Ya!!! We swapped cars. Another few hours and we reached Lenyadri
Girjatmaj means Girija, that is, Ganesha, son of Goddess Parvati. This 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
This the only temple among the Ashtavinayak to be located on a hillock inside a Buddhist cave. There are 18 Buddhist caves on the Lenyadri mountain. Eighth cave has the Girjatmaja Vinayak temple. One has to climb about 300 odd steps to reach the temple.
The Temple is carved out of a single stone and has no pillars supporting the entire structure. The idol faces north with its trunk to the left, and has to be worshipped from the rear of the temple. 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.
This is a temple once needed a boat ride to reach. To our surprize it was also the most cleanest and well maintained temple of the 7 we had seen so far. The temple & the idol, facing the east, has its trunk towards the left and rubies in its eyes. There is a diamond on the forehead and some jewel in the navel
Not too far from here is the Mahaganpati at Ranjangoan. It’s about 70 Kms and took us over two hours to reach.
Obviously we had to stop, wanted to meet the Aliens. talk to them and meet them. We spotted these Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) on the way. Apparently there are 16 such telescopes in these areas which are controlled from Junnar
ALSO READ: GMRT
By now we had learnt to be even more louder trying to find express entries into the temple. This was one if we did not use the express / VIP entry, it would have taken us hours just to enter the temple. They have legit window, where they sell 50 INR express entry passes per person. It landed us right at the entry of the main temple. How more thankful I should be 🙂
Maha Ganapati is the eighth Ganesha. The representation of Lord Ganesh as Mahaganapathi is believed to be the most powerful and fierce form of the Lord. There is a belief that the original idol of Ganesha is hidden in the basement. The idol is supposed to have 10 trunks and 20 hands, also known by the name Mahottak. This was done to protect the idol from being stolen from the foreign invaders
A tour to these antique Lord Ganesha temples is a lovely venture, whether one is driven by faith or by passion, a feeling of experience, or even a doubt; Nevertheless, a valid state of devotion always contains some sacrifice and a lot of dedication