Ashta Vinayaka temples are eight Temples located around Pune in Maharashtra that house distinct idols of Ganesha Each of these Ashta Vinayaka temples has its own individual legend, and Ganesha is Swayambhu (self-originated) in all these temples. Almost all these temples are designed in such a way that during Dakshinayan (Southward movement of the sun) the rays of the sun fall directly on the deity.
It is believed that, the first temple of Ashta Vinayak needs to be re-visited after other seven, and then only the tour (yatra) is considered to be complete.
- Mayureshwar Temple, Morgaon
The temple is situated at the bank of the river Karha in the village of Morgaon of Baramati Taluka. The temple is built in the form of a fort with black-stone. There is a Nandi (Lord Shiva’s bull mount) sitting in front of this temple entrance, which is unique, as Nandi is normally in front of only Shiva temples. As per a story, the vehicle carrying Nandi statue to a Shivamandir broke down and the Nandi statue could not be moved from its current place. The deity is three eyed and has fangs of cobra (Nagaraja) over the head. The eyes and the navel of the deity are studded with precious diamonds. The deity is flanked by brass idols of His wives Siddhi(Capability) and Buddhi/Riddhi (Intelligence). The deity has a peacock stand in front of Him to resemble Lord Ganesh seated on a peacock.
- Siddhivinayak Temple, Siddhatek
Siddhatek is a remote little village on a small hillock along the river Bhima, off Pune-Solapur highway, in the Ahmednagar district of Karjat Tehsil. God Vishnu is supposed to have vanquished the demons Madhu and Kaitabh after propitiating Ganesha here. This is the only idol of Ashta Vinayaka with the trunk positioned to the right. It is believed that the two saints Shri Morya Gosavi and Shri Narayan Maharaj of Kedgaon received their enlightenment here. To make one round around the temple (pradakshina) one has to make the round trip of the hillock, which takes about 30 minutes with moderate speed. It seems Peshwa general Haripant Phadake lost his General’s position and did 21 Pradakshina around the temple, on the 21st day Peshwa’s court-man came and took him to the court with royal honor.
- Shri Mahaganapti, Ranjangaon
The main gate of this temple is guarded by two statues of Jay and Vijay. The deity is seated in a cross-legged position with a broad forehead, and flanked on both sides by Siddhi, Buddhi/Riddhi. According to a legend, Tripurasura, son of sage Grutsamad, prayed to Lord Shiva and got three powerful citadels of Gold, Silver and Bronze with a boon of invincibility until all the three are in linear. With the boon to his side he became evil and caused suffering to all beings in the heaven and on earth. Upon hearing the fervent appeals of the Gods, Shiva decided to kill Tripurasura. He worshipped His son Lord Ganesha, and then shot a single arrow that pierced through the citadels, bringing an end to the demon. 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. Lord Shiva, the slayer of the Tripura citadels is enshrined at Bhimashankaram.
- Chintamani Temple, Theur
The temple is located in village Theyoor/ Theur of Haveli Taluka along the river Mulamutha, off Pune-Solapur highway. Theur is at the confluence of three major regional rivers—Mula, Mutha & Bhima. Lord Chintamani drives away all perplexities of the mind. It is believed that Brahma the creator once felt restive and called upon Lord Ganesha. The place where Brahma achieved the quietude is known as the Sthavar region later called as Theur. As per another legend, 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 Ganesha’s neck, hence the deity is called Chintamani Ganesh. This happened under the Kadamb tree, therefore Theur is known as Kadambanagar in old times. The lake behind the temple is called Kadambteertha.
- Vighneshwar Vinayak, Ozhar
Vighneshwara’s temple in Ozhar is on the bank of River Kukdeshwar, off Pune-Nashik Highway. The temple is enclosed on all sides by high stone walls, has golden dome and golden pinnacle. According to a legend, a demon Vighnasur was created by Indra to do vighna (obstacle) to the prayer performed by King Abhinandan. However, the demon went a step further and destroyed all Vedic, religious acts. As per request by Gods, Ganesh defeated the demon in the region of Ozhar. When demon begged to mercy, Ganesha granted, but on the condition that demon should not go to the place wherever Ganesha is being worshipped. In return the demon asked a favor that his name should be taken before Ganesha’s name, thus the name of Ganesha became Vighnahar or Vighneshwara (remover of all obstacles). To remark this, God Ganesha stayed in same place as idol. Idols of Siddhi, Buddhi/Riddhi are on the two sides of the Ganesha idol.
- Girijatmaj Temple, Lenyadri
Lenyadri is to the North of Pune, along the Kukdi river, off Pune-Nashik highway. The Ganesh Puran calls this place as Lekhan Parbat. This is the only temple of the Ashtavinayak which is on a mountain and stands amidst a cave complex of 18 caves of Buddhist origin, as 8th cave. The temple is carved out of a single stone hill. It is believed that Parvati (Shiva’s wife) performed penance to beget Ganesha at this point. Girija’s (Parvati) Atmaj (son) is Girijatmaj. The deity has to be worshipped from the rear of the temple.
- Ballaleshwar Temple, Pali
The temple is located in the town of Pali, between fort Sarasgad and River Amba, in the district of Raigad of Sudhagad taluka, off Mumbai-Goa highway. Among the Ashtavinayakas, Ballaleshvara at Pali is the only Ganesha who is famous by the name of a devotee. Ganesha is believed to have saved a boy-devotee Ballala, who was beaten by his father for the devotion of boy for God. Lord Ganesh remained in the stone worshipped by Ballala & hence is called as Ballaleshwar of Pali. The stone idol which Ballal used to worship and which was thrown away by Kalyan Sheth is known as Dhundi Vinayak. it is a practice to take darshan of Dhundi Vinayak before proceeding to main idol Shree Ballaleshwar. The shape of Balleshwar idol resembles the mountain at the back of this temple. Prasad offered to deity at Pali is Besan Laadu instead of Modak.
- Shri Varada Vinayak, Mahad
Mahad is a village in the hilly region of Konkan in the Raigarh district of Khalapur Taluka, off Pune-Mumbai highway. Ganesha is said to reside here in the form of Varada Vinayaka (the giver of success). The idol was found in the adjoining lake in an immersed position. As per a legend, Sage Grutsamad who is famous for the mantra “GaNanaN Tva” founded the temple and called this Varada-Vinayak. There are 4 elephant idols on 4 sides of the temple. The dome is golden and has designs of cobra. This is the only temple where devotees are allowed to personally pay their homage and respects to the idol. A nandadeep has been lit in this Ashtavinayak temple which has been continuously lit since the 1892.