This Pilgrimage around Pune takes you across some of the most picturesque places..

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Photo of This Pilgrimage around Pune takes you across some of the most picturesque places.. by Tulika Todi

Ashtavinayak refers to 8 Ganpati Temples around Pune which houses 8 distinct idols of Lord Ganesha and each temple has its own individual legend. These temples are very much known for their miraculous powers and attracts lots of devotees every year. The form of each idol of Lord Ganesh and the trunk are distinct from one another.

The temples are situated in four different directions around Pune and are divided into four groups, being: Moreshwar/Mayureshwar and Siddhatek

Mahad and Pali

Lenyadri and Ozhar

Ranjhangaon and Theur

The sequence followed by us was Pune- Mayureshwar- Siddhatek- Pali- Mahad- Ozhar- Lenyadri- Theur- Ranjhangaon- Pune. According to belief its compulsory to visit Mayureshwar again to complete the circle. We couldn’t do it because of lack of time. Also, they say, that one should visit the very famous Dagdusheth Halwai Temple in Pune to complete the Ashtavinayak Pilgrimage.

Day 1

We started our journey from Pune at around 7AM in the morning. Mayureshwar is about 2.5 hours from Pune. The route we took was Pune- Hadapsar- Saswad- Morgaon This temple holds much importance and is therefore the first one on the Ashtavinayak route. It was moderately crowded and therefore we got the darshan really quick.

We then drove forward to Siddhatek. The route we took was Morgaon- Daund- Siddhatek. The temple is special because the idol here is the only idol among the 8, to have its trunk towards right. By the time we finished the darshan, it was lunch time. Once you cross the bridge while leaving the temple, you would find many dhaba’s on both side of the road. Pick any one to enjoy a Maharashtrian meal. They serve some hot and fresh food. Infact, they prepare the entire food once you place the order.

Photo of Siddhivinayak Ashtavinayaka Mandir, Karjat, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi
Photo of Siddhivinayak Ashtavinayaka Mandir, Karjat, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi
Photo of Siddhivinayak Ashtavinayaka Mandir, Karjat, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi
Photo of Siddhivinayak Ashtavinayaka Mandir, Karjat, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi

Once we had our fill we made our way to Mahad. This journey is a little long and takes about 5-6 hours. Its important to have your lunch before starting so that you could cover this one at a stretch. The route we took was Siddhatek- Jejuri Road- Saswad- Bhor- Mahad. After the very tiring journey, we reached the Varadavinayak Temple at Mahad. They have an oil lamp burning here for centuaries now. One can go really close to the idol here, to get the darshan.

We then left for Pali. Route taken was Mahad- Indapur- Pali. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach Pali. The Ballaleshwar Temple, Pali has been built in a way that the sunrays fall on the idol directly at sunrise. The entire drive from Siddhatek to Pali via Mahad left us exhausted and hungry. We found this place called Vithu Mauli just outside the temple premises. It had great North Indian food, was hygienic and I would recommend this place for lunch to anybody travelling to Pali.

Photo of Shri Ballaleshwar Ashtvinayak Temple, Pali, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi

Beautiful Rangoli at the temple at Pali

Photo of Shri Ballaleshwar Ashtvinayak Temple, Pali, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi
Photo of Shri Ballaleshwar Ashtvinayak Temple, Pali, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi

We then made our way towards Ozar, our last stop for the day. Route taken was Pali- Mumbai-Pune Expressway- Ozar. The Vighnahar Temple of Ozar stays open till about 10 at night. We reached here really late, but in time for the darshan. The temple overlooks a lake and the entire ambience is lovely.

We decided to stay at Ozar for the night. All eight temples have stay arrangements for the devotees, but the one here was very well made and maintained. The location adds up as a benefit. Its so relaxing to feel the breeze from the lake after a super long and tiring day. The rooms were air conditioned, were decent and reasonable. Hot water was available for bath (a necessity in the month of Feb). Do not be worried about breakfast in the morning. You get some tasty Poha and Chai at, as early as, 4:30 in the morning. We started our day very early as we wanted to catch the sunrise at Lenyadri.

Day 2

Lenyadri is about half an hour’s drive from Ozar. The Girijatmaj Temple is located in one of the 18 Buddhist caves. The temple is carved out of a single stone. The speciality of the temple is, it doesn’t have any lights inside. The only source of light is the sunrays. You have to climb about 300 steps to reach the temple. By the time we reached the top, it was almost sunrise. The sight was spectacular from the top. The climate was fab and we just dint want to leave the place. Also, there are a lot of monkeys here, so be very careful with your belongings. Monkeys here could get very notorious, one of them snatched a lady’s purse and threw it on the rocks below, right in front of our eyes.

View from the Lenyadri Caves..

Photo of LENYADRI GANPATI, SHREE LENYADRI GANPATI DEVSTHAN TRUST, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi
Photo of LENYADRI GANPATI, SHREE LENYADRI GANPATI DEVSTHAN TRUST, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi

Sunrise from Lenyadri Caves..

Photo of LENYADRI GANPATI, SHREE LENYADRI GANPATI DEVSTHAN TRUST, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi
Photo of LENYADRI GANPATI, SHREE LENYADRI GANPATI DEVSTHAN TRUST, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi

We had some breakfast on our way down and then made our way to Theur. The route was Lenyadri- Narayangaon- Manchar- Lonikand- Theur. The Chintamani Temple of Theur was moderately crowded and had the biggest temple complex. It was built by Peshwas over a century ago.

Theur was followed by our last temple at Ranjhangaon. Route was Theur- Lonikand- Shikrapur- Ranjhangaon. The Mahaganpati temple here was right on the road and was the grandest of all the temples.

Photo of Ranjangaon, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi
Photo of Ranjangaon, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi
Photo of Ranjangaon, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi
Photo of Ranjangaon, Maharashtra, India by Tulika Todi

Once done here, our last stop was Dagdusheth Halwai Temple, Pune.

This was our 2 days trip to the Ashtavinayak Temples. Once done we felt inner peace, we felt fulfilled, a feeling which cannot be expressed in words.

Tips

One important tip would be to carry your water and snacks. Since most of these temples are in villages, you wouldn’t find a lot of eateries, plus carrying your own stuff would save you a lot of time on the road.

Carry comfortable cushions as the long journey could take a toll on your back.

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