“Ganpati Bappa Morya”
The chant reverberates all over and the enormous energy and joy that fills up in the air, means only one thing, the arrival of our favourite festival, Ganesh Chaturthi! The 10-11 days of ‘Ganeshotsav’ are a time of pure happiness, devotion, colourful flowers, yummy food and of course, the numerous Ganpati pandals that suddenly pop up all over the city. I haven’t been a witness to Ganeshotsav outside Maharashtra but I’m sure this festival is celebrated with equal fanfare and gusto all over the country and many parts of the world. The time is auspicious, especially for those who have ‘Ganpati Bappa’ at their homes for 1 & 1/2 days, 5 days, 7 days or the entire 10-11 days. After ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’, come the divine festivities of ‘Gauri’ and finally, elaborate preparations begin for the main event of this festival, Anant Chaturdashi – the grand visarjan of Ganpati idols. The atmosphere is that of camaraderie, good faith and delicious ‘Modaks’ that are available in almost every home and every sweet shop in the city. These 10-11 days are a treat, especially for kids, when they rush to admire the different themed ‘Ganpati’ pandals around the city. It is also a time when devotees flock to the many temples of Ganpati around their city and pray to their favourite ‘Bappa’ for good health, happiness, success and prosperity among a lot of things. To that effect, we bring you a list of Ganpati temples in Maharashtra where you can seek blessings during the auspicious festival of Ganesh Chaturthi!
1.) Ashtavinayak Ganpati, Maharashtra
The ultimate ‘Ganpati Darshan’ that is considered to be the most sacred and spiritual journey for any Ganesh Bhakt (devotee)! Ashtavinayak literally means ‘Eight Ganpatis’ and represents 8 holy temples of Lord Ganesha found in different parts of Maharashtra. An interesting aspect about Ashtavinayak Ganpatis is that each of the Ganpati Idols are ‘Swayambhu’ which means they were naturally found and not sculpted or created by man. The Ashtavinayak Ganpatis according to the sequence of their religious significance are Moreshwar Temple at Morgaon, Siddhivinayak Temple at Siddhatek, Ballaleshwar Temple at Pali, Varadavinayak Temple at Mahad, Chintamani Temple at Theur, Girijatmaj Temple at Lenyadri, Vighneshwar Temple at Ozar and Mahaganpati Temple at Ranjangaon. It is believed that one must visit the first Ganpati temple again, after visiting all 8 temples for the successful and fruitful completion of the ‘Ashtavinayak Yatra’.
2.) Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai
A 2-century old temple that is one of the most popular and prominent temples of not just Mumbai but the entire state of Maharashtra! A sacred place of worship, a site of historical importance and a structure with brilliant architecture, Shree Siddhivinayak Temple at Prabhadevi, draws in worshippers from all corners of the world. The temple was built on 19th November 1801 (as per temple records) by the contractor, Laxman Vithu Patil and generously funded by a rich Agri woman, Deubai Patil. The Ganpati idol is a beautiful statue made from a single black stone with its trunk facing the right instead of the usual left (उजव्या सोंडेचा गणपती). ‘Shree Siddhivinayak’ is well-known as a wish-granting deity and devotees who desire to get their wishes fulfilled, secretly whisper their wishes in the ears of the giant silver mouse that is situated outside the inner sanctum. The mouse is the carrier of Lord Ganesha and his most trusted servant.
3.) Dashbhuja Ganpati Temple, Hedvi
The beautiful Ganesh Temple of Hedvi is located 10 km south of Velneshwar Beach in Guhaghar. It is extremely difficult to not fall in love with this picturesque temple, its surrounding greenery, calm atmosphere and the benevolent statue of Lord Ganesha that you find here. The Ganpati at this temple is also known as ‘Shri Dashabhuja Laxmi Ganesh’ since the Ganesha idol has ten arms and a small statue of Goddess Laxmi sitting on his left lap. The idol is purely made of marble and many believe that the statue was created in Kashmir. It is also believed that Peshwas in those days donated 1 Lakh Rupees for the construction of this temple. The temple is considered to be a ‘Jagrut Devasthan’ where you can feel the presence and spiritual energy of Lord Ganesha in the temple surroundings. The temple is closed between 12:00 pm to 1.30 pm in the afternoon and shuts down at 7 pm in the evening every day, so plan your visit to the Hedvi Ganpati Temple accordingly!
4.) Ganpatipule, Ratnagiri
Ganpatipule is one of the most famous temples and sacred pilgrimage sites located in the Ratnagiri district of Konkan, Maharashtra. The Ganpati idol situated here is 400 years old and ‘Swayambhu’ in nature which means it was naturally found in the ground. Most of the deities at other Indian temples face the east direction but the Ganpatipule idol faces west which is why it is also known as ‘Paschim Dwar Devta’ or ‘Paschim Dwarpalak’ (Western Sentinel God). It is also believed that the Ganpati faces west in order to protect the Western Ghats. This temple is located at the base of a small hill along the seashore and hence, devotees visiting the temple take an entire ‘Pradakshina’ (walking clockwise around a deity as a mark of devotion and respect) around the hill instead of just the temple. On a visit to Ganpatipule, one can also enjoy sights such as Prachin Konkan (museum depicting traditional village life of Konkan people), Ganpatipule Beach, Aare Ware Beach, Jaigad Fort and a British-built quaint lighthouse.
5.) Ganpati Mandir, Redi
The next Ganpati temple on our trail is located further south, in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra! The small coastal village of Redi is placed along the shores of the Arabian Sea, about 30 km away from Vengurla. This beautiful village, replete with coconut and cashew trees, was originally known as ‘Redipattanam’ and during earlier times, it was even a significant seaport. The village is also well-known for its manganese mines and the Ganpati idol we currently see in the temple was found in one of these mines near Rewati Port in 1976. Further excavation also revealed a mouse statue which was later installed at the temple. Interestingly enough, the Ganesh idol at the Redi temple is Dwibhuja which means the idol has two arms whereas most of the Ganpati idols have four arms (Chaturbhuj). It is believed that the buried Ganesha statue appeared in the dreams of a truck driver, Sadanand Kambli who later dug out the idol from its exact location and created the beautiful Ganpati Mandir at Redi.
6.) Ganpati Temple, Sangli
Our Ganpati trail takes us further to Sangli, known as the ‘Turmeric City of India’ due to the large production and trade of turmeric (haldi) in this city. Sangli is also well-known for its sugar factories and the most beautiful Ganpati Temple in South Maharashtra. This temple is situated on the banks of the Krishna River and the Ganpati idol in this temple was consecrated by Thorle Chimanrao Patwardhan in 1843. The temple is a work of art, created using black stone found in the Jyotiba Hills with entrance doors made out of coloured natural wood. The Ganpati idol is made from copper and placed in the inner sanctum of the temple in such a way that it is visible from any part of Ganpati Peth (outer premises of the temple). The temple is spread out over an area of 2 acres that comprises of the main hall, a platform and ‘Nagarkhana’. When in Sangli, you can also visit popular tourist sights such as Sangli Fort, Irwin Bridge, Dandoba Hills, Sagareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and Sangameshwar Temple.
7.) Maha Ganpati Temple, Wai
Wai is an ancient temple town in Maharashtra; it is also known as ‘Dakshin Kashi’ due to the presence of 7 ghats over River Krishna and the many temples that dot the streets and bylanes of this small city. However, the most prominent of these temples is the ‘Maha Ganpati Temple’ located at Ganpati Aali Ghat on the banks of the Krishna River. The temple was built by Ganpatrao Bhikaji Raste and the Ganesha idol was established in the year 1691. The Ganpati is also fondly known as ‘Dholya Ganpati’ owing to the sheer size of the Ganpati idol; 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide! In spite of its huge stature, the appearance of the Ganpati idol is very happy, positive and you can’t help but smile when you have a look at his portly yet affable statue. Just opposite is the Kashi Vishweshwar Mandir, another popular temple among all the places of worship in Wai. It is believed that the Dholya Ganpati idol and the statue of the ‘Nandi’ bull at the entrance of the Vishweshwar temple were both carved from a single black rock found in Karnataka.
8.) Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandir, Pune
One of the foremost and most prominent temples in Pune is the extremely popular, Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati of Budhwar Peth. The appearance of this particular statue is famous worldwide; it is captured in many religious books and auspicious frames that adorn the walls and ‘Devghars’ of many homes in Maharashtra. During childhood, I remember staring at the Dagdusheth Ganpati frame that we had in our house and thinking to myself, just how beautiful and magnificent could a Ganpati statue be! The aura of this Ganpati is spectacular and benevolent at the same time. The Ganpati temple was established in the year 1893 by a sweetmeat seller and rich businessman by the name of Dagdusheth Gadve. He was also a close ally of Lokmanya Tilak who upon seeing his dedication and devotion to building the temple was inspired with the idea of celebrating ‘Ganpati’ as a public festival. The idol is placed in such a way that the local thoroughfare of Pune can get a glimpse of their favourite ‘Bappa’ even from the street outside. Every year during ‘Ganeshotsav’ and some special occasions, the Ganpati Temple is elaborately decorated with specific themes; sometimes the entire temple is decked in flowers, sometimes in fruits and once, it was even decorated in biscuits! An extraordinary place of worship, Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Mandir should definitely be on your Ganpati trail when you visit Pune.
9.) Navshya Ganpati, Nashik
Shree Navshya Ganpati Mandir at Anandvalli, Nashik is a sacred temple bound with a rich and eloquent history of around 300-400 years. Situated on the banks of the Godavari River, Navshya Ganpati is an extremely ‘Jagrut Devasthan’, a temple where you can still feel the strong presence and energy of the deity. It is believed that this Ganpati fulfils the wishes of its devotees and thousands of followers have claimed that their wishes have been fulfilled after visiting and offering prayers at this temple. The temple is therefore known as ‘Navshya Ganpati’ after the local Marathi word ‘Navas’ which means ‘wish or desire in the form of prayer’. This temple was built by Raghoba Peshwa and his wife, Anandibai in the year 1774. The entire Peshwa family were huge devotees of Lord Ganesha. The thought of building a temple for their beloved deity crossed their minds on 15th August 1764 when Raghoba and Anandibai were blessed with a baby boy (who was named Vinayak, another name for Ganpati). On that very day, the village was named Anandvalli and the initial work for building the temple began!
10.) Siddhivinayak Mahaganapati Temple, Titwala
The last and final Ganpati on our trail is Siddhivinayak Mahaganpati at Titwala. This beautiful and sacred temple is located in the Thane district of Maharashtra, about 60 km away from Mumbai. With humble interiors and exteriors, the main charm of the temple lies in its Ganpati idol and the legends and sacred beliefs surrounding this deity. It is believed that, if worshipped with pure devotion, the Titwala Ganpati can bring together estranged couples, end any kind of marital discord and facilitate the successful union of potential brides and grooms. Popular belief also states that the temple was built by Shakuntala (from the famous mythological legend, Dushyant Shakuntala) whose star-crossed love saga, later gave birth to the Mahabharata epic. The Siddhivinayak temple built by Shakuntala was submerged in a water tank and was found during the rule of Peshwa Madhavrao I. The statue was buried under silt and discovered when the tank was de-silted to provide water to the surrounding town. Today, the temple stands rejuvenated and renovated on 12 acres of land and is particularly frequented by devotees on Tuesdays (the favourite day of Ganpati).
Truly, a trail of knowledge, wisdom, belief and pure devotion! There are many other popular temples around Maharashtra that are worth mentioning and of course, worth visiting; some of them are Shri Chintamani Ganesh Mandir in Yavatmal, Ganesh Mandir Tekdi in Nagpur and Padmalaya Temple in Jalgaon that offer a blissfully spiritual and soulful experience of Ganpati Bappa.
This Ganpati, make a difference by visiting your favourite ‘Bappa’ around Maharashtra but also remember what he stands for! Encourage heartfelt devotion more than loudspeaker noises, spend on natural flowers rather than harmful chemical colours, go for eco-friendly decorations rather than artificial show-off, travel to someplace new rather than aimlessly dancing in processions and finally, believe in people more than pollution. We always think of Ganpati Bappa before we start any new project, commence any new programme or embark on a new phase in our life; even our tours start with the exhilarating chants of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’! On this very note, let’s embark on a journey to become better people every day with the blessings of our favourite ‘Bappa’…