If you’re looking for a brush with the divine, the “Ashtavinayak” temples in the state of Maharashtra dedicated to Lord Ganesh are the places to be.
Devotees throng to these temples in large numbers because it is believed that a pilgrimage to the Ashtavinayak ensures the pilgrim’s everlasting bliss. Glorified as ‘Swayambhu’ or self-emanated, each of the eight idols have distinctive features.
Pune, the second largest city of the state, can be used as a base to visit these shrines. These Swayambhu shrines, in order of importance are Morgaon, Siddhatek, Pali, Madh, Theur, Lenyadri, Ozar and Ranjangaon.
Sights to See There
Located on the banks of River Karha, Morgaon is the first stop on the Ashtavinayak temple circuit. Built in the typical Mughal style, the main temple faces towards the north and houses the presiding deity of ‘Shri Moreshwar’ Ganapati.
Siddhatek is located on the banks of River Bhima in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The Siddhatek shrine dedicated to Siddhivinayak Ganapati was built during the Peshwa period.
Set in the picturesque surroundings, the Pali shrine, dedicated to ‘Ballaleshwara’ Ganapati, is located on the periphery of Pali village. Encircled by two lakes, the shrine attracts pilgrims in large numbers. The other places of interest in Pali are Shree Vighneshwar Temple, Shiva Temple at Siddheswari and Sudhagad Fort.
Located in picturesque surroundings, the temple resembling a tiled roofed house and facing the east is dedicated to Varadavinayaka Ganapati. The sanctum is made of stone and surrounded by beautiful stone elephant carvings.
Located on the confluence of the Mula, Muth and Bhima rivers, the temple was built by Madhavrao Peshwa and is dedicated to ‘Chintamani ‘ Ganapati.
Located on a hillock, the temple faces south and is carved from the rocks. There are 283 steps leading to the main temple, that is dedicated to Girijatmak Ganapati. From the temple, one can view the Puspavati River flowing nearby and Junnar town spread below.
At the entrance to the temple are two Deep-malas – stone pillar oil lamps, and two huge Dwar Palaks guards and in the sanctum is the idol of Vighneshwar Ganapati.
The main temple here, built by Madhavrao Peshwa, is dedicated to Maha Ganapati.