Ashtavinayak Yatra
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EIGHT Swayambhu idols of lord Ganesha or commonly known as "ASHTAVINAYAKAS" to all of us, is the most visited pilgrimage in western maharashtra, by people of all religions and faith. It is believed that all the eight ganeshas are Jagrut. Together they for the "ASHTAVINAYAK", ASHTA meaning eight, and VINAYAK is the name of Lord Ganesha. At all these places Lord Ganesh is known by different names, they are, Moreshwar at Morgaon, Siddhivinayak at Siddhatek, Varad Vinayak at Mahad, Ballaleshwar at Pali, Chintamani at Theur, Girijatmak at Lenhyadri, Vighneshwar at Ozhar,  and Mahaganpati at Ranjangaon.

It is very much believed to visit these places in the above given order and then again visiting Morgaon, although due to lack of time and location constraint tourist generally visit Varad Vinayak, Ballaleshwar, Vigneshwar and Girijatmak together as these are on one side of Pune and the rest together, as they fall along the other side. The entire eight Ganeshas are spread over Pune, Ahmadnagar and Raigad district. It takes complete two days to visit the Ashtavinayakas, if not visiting in the order and around 3 days if you visit in the order of the legend.

According to Shastra, first you have to visit Moreshwar of Morgaon. Then visit Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Theur, Lenyadri, Ozar, Ranjangaon and then again Morgaon will end your Ashtavinayaka Yatra in true sense.


Each Ganesh temple has its own story to tell and has a different legend associated with it. They are located at a distance of 20 to 150 km from Pune and around 30 to 1100 kms from each other.

State transport and private buses regularly ply from both Mumbai (less frequent) and Pune to each of these places. Specially organized tours through State transport and private operators are regularly conducted from both Mumbai and Pune. Apart from these, local taxis can also be arranged from both Mumbai and Pune. All the temples have Bhaktidhams, Dharamshalas, where the tourist can take their night halt, not with a lot of facilities but equipped with basic amenities. There are other options like lodges and hotels, but since all these temples are located in small villages, the options are not too many and might not be available  if there is  a local wedding or some festival (Advisable to book or atleast have some update before starting on your yatra).

Special S.T. buses ply between Pune and all the Ashtavinayaka temples. Tours are also organized by private operators. Dharmashala, lodges and M.T.D.C. (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) resorts almost at all places are available for visitors to reside. Ashtavinayaka Temples are within the range of only 20 to 110 Kms.
According to Shastra worshipping lord Ganesha by reciting a maha mantra of Ganesh Gayatri on Sankshti Chaturthi or any Poornima at these holy temples are very effective. The mantra is

“OM EKDANTAYA VIDMAHE VAKRATUNDAYA DHEEMAHI, TANNO DANTI PRACHODAYAT”
Nirguna Saguna Pranavakruti, Ek ase ha Ganapati, Rakshavaya bhaktanprati, ashta sthani pragatala.


Mayureshwar, Morgaon, Ashtavinayaka YatraShri Mayureshwar, Morgaon:- The temple, built from black-stone during the Bahamani reign, has four minarets. The temple is situated in the centre of the village. The temple is covered from all sides by four Minarets and gives feeling of a mosque if seen from a distance. This may have been done to prevent attacks on the temple during Mughal periods. The temple has 50 feet tall wall around it.

The idol of Lord Ganesha, riding a peacock, in the form of Mayureshwara is believed to have slain the demon Sindhu at this spot. The idol, with its trunk turned to the left, has a cobra (Nagaraja) poised over it protecting it. This form of Ganesha also has two other idols of Siddhi (Capability) and Buddhi (Intelligence).The temple is situated at a distance of 55 kms from Pune, next to the river Karha in the village of Morgaon.

 

Shri Siddhi Vinayak, Siddhatek Siddhi Vinayak, Siddhatek, Ashtavinayaka Yatra :- Lord Vishnu is supposed to have vanquished the asuras (Devils, Rakshasas) Madhu and Kaitabh after propitiating Ganesha here. This is the only idol, out of these eight, with the trunk positioned to the right. The temple is North-facing and is on a small hillock. The idol is 3 feet tall and 2.5 feet wide. The stomach of the idol is not wide, but Riddhi and Siddhi idols are sitting on one thigh.

This idols trunk is turned to the right. The right-sided-trunk Ganesha is supposed to be very strict for the devotees. This temple is situated off the Pune-Solapur highway, about 48 kms from the town of Srigonda in Ahmednagar district. The temple is situated next to Bhima river. On Pune-Solapur railway, Daund Railway station is 18 kms from here.

 

Ballaleshwar, Pali, Ashtavinayaka YatraShri Ballaleshwar, Pali:- Ganesha is believed to have saved this boy-devotee, Ballala, who was beaten by local villagers and his father (Kalyani-seth) for his single-minded devotion to him.

The original wooden temple was reconstructed in to a stone temple by Nana Phadanavis in 1760. The hall, supported by eight exquisitely carved pillars. The eight pillars depict the eight directions. The temple is constructed in such a way that after the winter (dakshinayan : southward movement of the sun) solstice, the sun rays fall on the Ganesha murti at sunrise. The temple is built with stones which are stuck together very tight using melted lead.
Like a few other murtis, this one has diamonds embedded in the eyes and navel, and with His trunk pointing to the left. The temple is located in the town of Pali, off the Mumbai-Pune highway, about 11 km before Nagothane on the Mumbai-Goa highway.

 

Varada Vinayak, Mahad, Ashtavinayaka YatraShri Varada Vinayak, Mahad :-Sage Grutsamad is famous for the mantra GaNanaN Tva. He founded the temple and called this Ganesha: Varada-Vinayak. Ganesha is said to reside here in the form of Varada Vinayaka, the giver of bounty and success.The idol faces the east, has its trunk to the left and has been in the constant company of an oil lamp - said to be burning continuously since 1892. There are 4 elephant idols on 4 sides of the temple. The dome is 25feet high and is golden at the top. The dome has designs of cobra.This is the only temple where devotees are allowed to personally pay their homage and respects to the idol. They are allowed in the immediate vicinity of this idol to perform their prayers.

The temple is located three kilometers off the Pune-Mumbai highway near Khopoli (80 km from Pune), and is thus closest to Mumbai city. Karjat Railway Station, Karjat on Mumbai-Pune railway is 24 km from this place and 6 km from Khopoli.

 

Chintamani,Theur , Ashtavinayaka YatraShri Chintamani,Theur :- Ganesha is believed to have got back the precious Chinatamani jewel from the greedy Guna for sage Kapila at this spot. However, after bringing back the jewel, sage Kapila put it in Vinayaka's (Ganesha's) neck. Thus the name Chintamani Vinayak. The temple entrance is North facing. The outer wooden hall is built by Peshwas.
This idol also has a left trunk, with carbuncle and diamonds as its eyes. The idol faces the East side.

The temple is located 22 km from Pune, off the Pune-Solapur highway, and is hence the nearest from Pune. The village of Theur sits at the confluence of three major regional rivers—Mula, Mutha & Bhima.

 

 

Girijatmaj, Lenyadri, Ashtavinayaka YatraShri Girijatmaj, Lenyadri :- It is believed that Parvati (Shiva's wife) performed penance to beget Ganesha at this point. Girija's (Parvati's) Atmaj (son) is Girijatmaj. This temple stands amidst a cave complex of 18 caves of Buddhist origin. This temple is the 8th cave. These are called Ganesh-leni as well. The temple is carved out of a single stone hill, which has 307 steps. The temple features a wide hall with no supporting pillars. The temple hall is 53feet long, 51feet wide and 7feet in height. 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.. There is no electric bulb in the temple. The temple is constructed such that during the day it is always lighted up by the sun-rays!

The temple is situated 12 km from Narayangaon, which is about 94 km from Pune on the Pune-Nashik highway. Nearest railway station is Talegaon

Vighneshwar Vinayak, Ozhar, Ashtavinayaka YatraShri Vighneshwar Vinayak, Ozhar :- The history encompassing this idol states that Vighnasur, a demon was created by the King of Gods, Indra to destroy the prayer organized by King Abhinandan. However, the demon went a step further and destroyed all vedic, religious acts and to answer the people's prayers for protection, Ganesh defeated him. The Ganesha here is called Shri Vighneshwar Vinayak. The temple faces east and is surrounded by a thick stone wall. One can walk on the wall. The main hall of the temple is 20feet long and the inner hall is 10feet long. This 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. Idols of Riddhi and Siddhi are placed on the two sides of the Ganesha idol.
This temple is located just off the Pune-Nashik Highway, in the town of Ozhar. It is enclosed on all sides by high stone walls, and its pinnacle is made of gold. The temple is situated on the banks of river Kukadi.

 

Mahaganapti, Ranjangaon, Ashtavinayaka YatraShri Mahaganapti, Ranjangaon :- Shiva is believed to have worshipped Ganesha before fighting the demon Tripurasura here. The temple was built by Shiva where he worshipped Ganesha, and the town he set up was called Manipur which is now known as Ranjangaon. The idol faces the east, is seated in a cross-legged position with a broad forehead, with its trunk pointing to the left. It is said that the original idol is hidden in the basement, having 10 trunks and 20 hands and is called Mahotkat, however, the temple authorities deny existence of any such idol. Constructed so that the rays of the sun fall directly on the idol (during the Southward movement of the sun), the temple bears a distinct resemblance to the architecture reminiscent of the 9th and 10th Centuries and faces the east. The temple is situated 50 km from Pune on the Pune-Ahmednagar highway in the village of Ranjangaon.

 

 
 

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