Ganesh Chaturti is celebrated to mark the birth of Ganapati, the God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune, who is not only worshipped by Hindus but also several Jains and Buddhists. While you may visit your local pandaals or shrines, there are several Ganapati temples across India, set in beautiful locations, which are thronged for reasons ranging from size and aesthetics to unique features and religious significance
Dreams come true at Kalpaga Vinayagar
In Tamil, Ganapati is referred to as Pillayar and Vinayagar, meaning incomparable leader. Close to Madurai in Tamil Nadu, amidst a huge open space, this ancient rock-cut temple, has a Ganesh idol made of black stone and covered with gold. Unlike the rotund versions you see in other parts of India, this one is triangular, a typical feature of South Indian idols.
The Ganapati temple frequented by many, is associated with wishes being fulfilled. While most temples or homes have Ganapatis with four hands in vanamukhi (left-facing trunk) mode, this temple is among the few to house the deity with two hands in valampuri (right-facing trunk) mode. Bringing home such idols is uncommon, but they are said to signify greater power--worshippers will be blessed with wealth and their wishes will be granted faster.
People are careful about following rules while worshipping such idols of Ganesh, because as legend goes, Ganapatis in valampuri position are angered easily if devotees stray from the rules.
Siddhivinayak gives faith and hope
Flower vendors and locals will tell you that Siddhivinayak temple was once a small shrine in a shanty. They say, people’s belief increased its popularity such that, today, it stands as a fairly grand structure.
As per the official website’s narrative, the old temple, a 3.6mtr x 3.6mtr structure, was originally built in 1801. Later, Deubai Patil, a rich childless lady from Matunga, thought of rebuilding it, and prayed, “Although I cannot have a child, let other childless couples get the pleasure of visiting the temple and praying to you.”
Year after year, the temple has seen success and receives many worshippers who walk long distances, queuing up even as early as 5 am. It is therefore called Navasacha Ganapati, which means Ganapati that bestows whenever devotees genuinely pray for something.
The idol is carved out of a single black stone, and like the Karpaga Vinayagar temple, its trunk turns to the right.
MotiDoongri. Pic courtesy- Nupur Saraf
Moti Doongri’s palace abode
Everything is big in Jaipur, from its palaces and hotels to its temples and laddoos. Yes, laddoos! Locals, tourists and devotees visit the Moti Doongri temple during Ganesh Chaturti in huge numbers.
Among the many offerings made by them, the most fascinating is the motichoor laddoos, some weighing even a kilo. One of the two prominent Ganapati temples in Jaipur, Moti Doongri, is visited by some locals everyday, whereas others await the mela (fair) held on the temple grounds every Budhwar (Wednesday), Ganapati’s day.
Girijatmaj amidst the caves of Lenyadri
Ashtavinayak temples spread across Maharashtra are home to eight Ganesh idols, believed to be self-manifested. This aspect is vital to its attraction and the importance of Ashtavinayak yatras for many, is comparable to Char Dham. It is preferred that all eight temples are covered in one trip in a specific order, of which Girijatmaj is the eighth.
Reaching this unique temple requires a climb of a few hundred steps to one of the numerous Buddhist caves in the hillock of Lenyadri. Like the temple, the Ganapati idol is carved out the cave and is not a separate statue. The temple also has several rooms for meditation.
Rajasthan-Ranthembore-Fort-GaneshTemple. Pic courtesy: Gustasp Irani
Whisper in the ears of Trinetra Ganesha
Located atop the Ranthambore Fort, Trinetra Ganesh temple overlooks the Ranthambore National Park famous for its tiger habitat. Around the temple it is not uncommon for you to spot white rats, Ganapti’s auspicious mount, and monkeys too.
Trinetra, means three eyes; the third eye is generally associated with Shiva. Several Hindu communities especially Marwaris send the first wedding invitation card to Ranthambore Fort’s Ganapati. Earlier, people personally visited the temple to offer an invitation, but in modern times couriering invitations has caught on. The pundit reads out the invitation in Ganesh’s ears and the card is kept in the temple for a year.
With inputs from official temple websites, Amit Samant Ronak Ruia, Nupur Saraf and Hema Venkat