Best Ganesha Temples in India
Lord Ganesha is one of the most worshiped gods in the country. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati. Legend has that Shiva cut off Ganesha’s throat because of anger. However, he soon regained his cool and replaced it with the head of an elephant. To compensate for this behavior he also gave Ganesha a boon that he would be worshiped before all gods. It is this reason that Lord Ganesha is always worshiped before any other lord.
Any auspicious occasion or religious ceremony commences only after Lord Ganesha has been worshiped. His temples are located all across the country and even in some of the remotest corners of the country. Here are the most popular of them-
Ganpatipule, Konkan Coast (Maharashtra)
Ganpatipule in Maharashtra has an interesting legend associated with its name. As per folklore, a local cowherd had a cow who suddenly stopped giving milk. But she would suddenly start giving milk at a particular location on the reef. This strange series of events eventually led to the finding of Swayambhu (self-manifest). It is a stone image of Lord Ganesha. It had been formed via a sand dune, also known as pula. The place soon got the name of Ganpatipule. It is strange but true that each year a huge tide of waves comes up to the temple, as if to touch the feet of the lord. The temple faces towards the west and has a unique construction.
It is made in such a way that during the months of November and February, the rays of the sun fall directly on the idol of the lord. The devotees say prayers in a large brass mousse, which is more like a whisper, prior to entering the temple. Situated right at the bottom of the hill, this temple is also shaped like the Lord Ganesha himself. This way the pilgrims can do pradikshana along this path.
Siddhi Vinayak Temple, Mumbai (Maharashtra)
The rich and the famous from the likes of Bollywood and other social strata visit Siddhivinayak temple
in Mumbai . But this is not how the temple used to be earlier. It was a mere small shrine of just 3.6 m x 3.6 m. The story of the rise of the Siddhivinayak temple located in Prabhadevi is really like a Bollywood star too. It had been formed in 1801 and was a small and humble square brick structure. There was a domed spire in the structure and it had been constructed by Laxman Vithu Patil for a rich woman.
As time passed, the religious beliefs and faith in the temple, for fulfilling wishes increased. Word started spreading that this temple indeed fulfilled wishes or had siddhi powers. It got patronage from people across the world with funds of about Rs.50 crore is collected every year. Today the temple stands in all its glory as it is covered in gold. The inner part of the sanctum is made with pure gold while the doors are made with food and have a silver mantle. This mantle has the images of the lord Ashtavinayak or eight manifestations of Ganesha. The 8 temples comprise of -
- Moreshwar (Morgaon)
- Siddhivinayak (Siddhatek)
- Ballaleshwar (Pali)
- Varadavinayak (Mahad)
- Chintamani (Theur)
- Girijatmaj (Lenyadri)
- Vighnahar (Ozar)
- Mahaganapati (Ranjangaon)
Ranthambhore Ganeshji (Rajasthan)
On top of the old forts in Ranthambore is a 1000 year old temple that is dedicated to Trinetra Ganesha, also known as the three-eyed god. This is an idol made of bright orange. On an average day, the lord receives at least 10kg of letters from across the world. It includes wedding invitations, office openings and other similar invitations. According to legend, it is vital to first take out a wedding card to invite the Lord Ganesha. Folklore has that the first of the wedding cards to be sent to the lord here was 6,500 years ago during the wedding of Lord Krishna and Rukmini’s marriage.
All of these envelopes are however not wasted and they are used again to provide prasad to the devotees. There is an annual meal served to the lord when almost 1 million pilgrims visit the temple over a period of less than 3-4 days. It is located right in the midst of an ecological park and hence it wrecks havoc to the ecological balance. In fact number of people visiting the temple exceeds the number of people visiting the park every year.
Gokarna Maha Ganapathy Temple (Karnataka)
Located at Gokarna, the Sri Maha Ganapathi Temple is one of the rare temples that is said to have existed even before the Ramayana happened. It is situated right close to the Mahabaleshwar Temple that houses the Shiva Atmalingam. The Ganesha temple is famous for having tricked Ravana into getting rid of his special lingam - The Atmalingam. Folklore has that this was received by the Lord Shiva and appeased god fear. It has a standing statue of the Ganesha, which is rare because most of his statues are always sitting. The idol is a bit more than 5 feet tall and there is a small depression on the head of the statue, to mark his fury against Ravan. The temple is also called as 5 Sidda Ganapati.
Karpaga Vinayakar Temple, Pillaiyarpatti (Tamil Nadu)
This is a very popular shrine in Tamil Nadu and pays homage to Valampuri Vinayakar. Here Lord Ganesha is seated in a lotus position with a golden trunk that is bent to the right. It has been carved from the rocks of the temple itself. The idol is black in colour and it is from here that the Ganesha got its name Karpaga Vinayakar. The temple is almost 1600 years old and had been made by the Pandya Kings. It was renovated by the Nagarathar community in 1284, who added another eastern tower here. Painted in vegetable dyes, the ceiling too has beautiful inscriptions. The temple is also known as Pillaiyarpatti after Pillaiyar or Lord Ganesha.
Rockfort Ucchi Pillayar Temple, Tiruchirappalli (Tamil Nadu)
Folklore has that Vibhishana and Ravana fought on the opposite sides in Ramayan. However, their fate is very much similar. After Ravan was defeated, Lord Ram gave Vibhishana the idol of Lord Ranganatha. He warned Vibhishana that the idol takes root wherever placed. However, many lords said that though Vibhishana fought against Ravana, he was still a demon by nature. Hence, they wanted Lord Vinayak to stop him. When Vibhishana returned to Lanka, he passed via Trichy
. He loved the scenic Kaveri River and took a holy dip there. Here Lord Ganesha came disguised as a cowherd and held the idol while Vibhishana bathed. But as Vibhishana entered the water, Ganesha put the idol on the banks. Vibhishana ran after him and hit him on the forehead. When the Ganesha revealed himself, Vibhishana apologized immediately.
Since then, the rock
where lord Ganesha had escaped was called the Ucchi Pillayar temple or ‘Lord Vinayaga on the hilltop’. The idol root is called Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple at Srirangam. Both temples are accessible by one another and offer a stunning view of the Kaveri and Kollidam rivers.
Manakula Vinayagar Temple (Puducherry)
Located in Puducherry, the worship of this shrine is said to have defeated the French in their base town. The temple is dedicated to the Lord Ganesha as Vellakaran Pillai and is almost 500 years old. The temple existed before the French came here. It gets its name from the pond or old kulam that used to be filled with sand, which blew from the shore. The French tried to get hold of the temple a number of times but it was saved. They would hurl the idol here into the sea but every time it would reappear magically.
Even today, the temple remains in the same spot and is in the midst of the French Quarter. Many occasions are celebrated here like Ganesh Chaturthi. There is an elephant outside the temple that takes a coin and gives blessings in return.
Madhur Maha Ganapathi Temple, Kasaragod (Kerala)
On the banks of the River Madhuvahini, about 8km towards northeast of Kasaragod, is an old Ganesh temple that had been constructed during the 10th century by Mypadi Rajas of Kumbla. Here Lord Shiva is the main deity, but his son gets more attention here. The idol of the lord Ganesha is not made of either stone or rock, but some strange material. Oblations are done for Ishwara.
The temple is made of copper and wood. After conquering Kumbla, Tipu Sultan came to this shrine with destruction in mind. But he was fatigued and drank water from the temple well. This changed his heart and he left the shrine. A mark by his dagger still exists over the intricate wood work. Legend has that the water of the temple has medicinal value and no frogs or fish live there.
The Modappa Seva ritual was carried in this temple in 1992 when the lord is covered with sweet rice cakes made with ghee called moodappam. But in spite of stacking non-stop, it is never enough to cover the Lord. This ritual is stopped because it is very expensive.
Ganesh Tok, Gangtok (Sikkim)
One would find it rare to believe that a Lord Ganesha temple would exist in the land where there are more followers of Buddhism. But it is true and this is one of the other rare temples of the Lord Ganesha that is worshipped here. The temple is situated at a distance of about 7km from Gangtok-Nathula Road. Located at about 6,500 feet above sea level, the Sikkim’s Ganesh Tok temple is simply mesmerizing. It is very much similar to the Hanuman Tok and offer a gorgeous view of the Raj Bhavan along with Gangtok town and Mount Khangchendzonga. The temple is quite small and gets cramped up for darshan. Pilgrims literally have to on all fours to see the Lord Ganesha.
Gulur, Tumkur District - Bangalore
Located in a small village called Gulur, in Tumkur district is a Ganesh temple that has a different way of celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi. Legend has that a Brahman lived here who had difficult times. Lord Ganesha came before him one day and said that his pains and troubles would be gone, if he performed a particular puja. The priest met Sage Agasthya who helped him complete the puja. They made a 8-9 feet idol of the lord Ganesha and worshipped it for 30 days. Till date, the same tradition is performed in this town. The ritual commences on Balipadyami (Deepavali) and ends a month later. Idols of both Lord Ganesha along with Sage Agasthya are kept in the temple.
Ekadasha Swayambu Ganapathis of Shenbakkam, Vellore
Shenbakkam is right off the Chennai-Bangalore highway and forms a part of Vellore. The area is popular for their Navabrindavanam of Madvaite Saints and Ekadasa Swayambu Ganapathis. It was initially named Swayampakkam, which means Swayambu Ganeshas. Today the temple is merely called Shenbakkam. Legend has that Thukoji, a Maharashtrian Minister was forced to stay here at night after his chariot broke down. It was here that he dreamed about 11 natural forms of Lord Ganesha would be found beneath the earth, in the form of an 'OM'. So he unearthed them and formed this temple.