Maharashtra: Ashtavinayaka Yatra Or Pilgrimage: Day 2

We started at 6.20am on Day-2. On the way we were treated to a bonus visit to a Vaishnodevi temple with an underground watery tunnel leading to the altar in Pune city. As the morning sun broke through we were heading for the first Ganapati temple and our fourth of Ashtavinayaka.

Chintamani Temple: We reached our first stop Theur—25km from Pune city around 9am. The Chintamani temple here is believed to be one of the larger and more famous of the eight revered shrines. The main temple hall has a black stone water fountain in it.  Beside the central shrine dedicated to Ganesha, there are three smaller shrines in the temple complex dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu-Lakshmi and Hanuman. Lord Ganesha is worshiped by the name ‘Chintamani’ (‘Chinta’ meaning ‘worry’) in this temple as it is believed he provides deliverance from all worries.

Siddhivinayak Temple: After breakfast at Theur we reached our next pilgrimage Shree Siddhivinayak’s Temple situated in the village of Siddhatek in Ahmednagar district, about 100 km from Pune, just before noon. The sanctum was built by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. The right-tasked incarnation of Ganesha as ‘Masterful Remover’, Shree Siddhivinayak is placed in brass frame. Legends surrounding the north-facing temple suggest it was built to commemorate the place where Lord Vishnu defeated the evil Asuras Madhu-Kaitabh with the blessing of Siddhi Vināyaka. The shrine is particularly popular during the festivals of Ganesh Jayanti, Vijayadashami and Somvati Amavasya.

Moreshwar or Mayureshwar Mandir: With a lunch break we were at the third temple of Day—2 and the sixth of our yatra at around 3.30pm. Mayureshwar or Moreshwar temple is situated in Pune district about 80 km from Pune city on the banks of Karha River in the village Morgaon. The deity is three-eyed, seated with his trunk turned towards the left (direction of success). The deity is flanked by idols of Siddhi and Buddhi, consorts of the Lord and his mount being a peacock (‘more’ in Marathi means ‘peacock’.) The temple is crucial as Hindu scriptures term this temple as the starting and ending point of a pilgrimage of eight revered Ganesha temples. Morgaon is the foremost center of worship of the Ganapatya sect, which considers Ganesha as the Supreme Being. A Hindu legend relates the temple to killing of the demon Sindhu by Ganesha. The exact date of building of the temple is unknown, though the Ganapatya saint Morya Gosavi is known to be associated with it. The temple flourished due to the patronage of the Peshwa rulers and descendants of Morya Gosavi.

On the way back to Pune city we had two bonus treats in terms of a famous Jejuri temple of Khandoba—the God of Jejuri, and a Balaji temple famous for its spectacular night lighting. Thanks to all these we reached the hotel well after 10pm and hardly had time to get ready again early morning for the third and last day of our pilgrimage.

                                                                    (To Be Continued…)


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