A lot of temples of Lord Ganesha exist in India. This is because he is an extremely popular deity in the Hindu culture. Some of them are more famous because of their historical significance, their structural genius or their architectural design.
This article talks about some of the famous places to visit in India to worship Lord Ganesha. Some of the states in India that have major temples of Lord Ganesha are Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. The magnitude of their popularity may be judged on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi when these temples are swarmed by devotees. The devotees stand in long queues for hours just to get a glimpse of the decoration and the idol of Lord Ganesha. The idol of Lord Ganesha is decorated all through the year too in these temples. Karnataka and Maharashtra witness enormous crowds on the occasion of Ganesha’s birthday. This is because most of the famous Ganesh temples are found here.
Maharashtra, for instance has Shree Siddhivinayak temples, Astavinayak, Siddhivinayak Mahaganapati Temple, Girijtmaja Vinayak and Ganapatipule Ganapati temple.
Located in Prabhadevi, Mumbai (Maharashtra, India), Shree Siddhivinayak was built in 1801. The temple has a small shrine of Ganesha and the roof is plated with gold.
“Siddhivinayak” in Sanskrit literally means “the one who grants wishes”. The name Ashtavinayak means eight Ganeshas. The term Astavinayak is coined because the eight different avatars of Ganesha can be seen in the temple premises. It is located in the city of Pune, Maharashtra. Siddhivinayak Mahaganapati Temple is located in the Thane district in the small town of Titwala. The place has a rich religious history and hence witnesses many devotees. Girijatmaja Vinayak, one of the eight Lord Ganesha’s temples, is the one that has the sixth idol of Ganesha. It is a temple that should be visited as part of the Ashtvinayaka pilgrimage. It is located in Lenyadri on top of a hill that has about 307 steps. Located approximately 375 km south of Mumbai in the Ratnagiri district, the Ganapatipule Ganapati temple has a 400 year old Ganapathi idol that is believed to have sprung up from the soil. The deity is also believed to guard the western gates from here.
Kerala has Ganesh temples that are over three centuries old. The temples are not just popular for the sheer structural brilliance but also because of the way the idol of Lord Ganesh is worshiped here. Shree MahaGanapathy temple, Velam Ganapathi temple, Iswaramangalam Ganapathi temple and Madhur Maha Ganapati Temple are some of the famous temples here. The state of Tamil Nadu has Karpaka Vinayakar Temple, located at Thiruppatthur. Ganesha is also known as Pillaiyar in Tamil Nadu. Located in Sawai Madopur, Rajasthan the Ganesh temple in Ranthambore national park was build it 1300 AD. The idol of Lord Ganesh is placed along with his two wives.
The temples mentioned above are a few of the hundred temples that exist in India. These temples are a must visit for any ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha.
Uchhi Pillayar Temple, Rockfort is a 7th century Hindu Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is located at the top of Rockfort, Trichy, India. The shrine stands at a height of 273 ft, and one has to climb 400 stairs to get a glimpse of the great God. Halfway to the peak is Sri Thayumanavar Temple. A panoramic view of the entire city from the top makes one feel like they are indeed in heaven. The Rockfort temple complex has three temples on the way to the Lord Ganesha temple. The Mannikka temple at the foot, The Thayumanavar temple in the mid of the stairs and the Uchhi Pillayar at the top. These shrines belong to Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha respectively.
The temple was earlier known as the Thirisirapuram Temple, after a demon named Thirisan, who worshipped here. As all the three deities have their temples at the same place, the place is called as Thirisirapuram. The legend says that Lord Rama (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) rescued his wife Sita from the demon Ravana after killing him. In this fight of morality, the truth and moral abiding brother of Ravana, Vibhisana took the side of Lord Rama. Vibhisana got an idol of Lord Ranganatha (Lord Vishnu is called as Lord Ranganatha) as a token of love from Lord Rama. Devtaas (Gods) were skeptical of an asura (demon; Vibhisana was the brother of Ravana who was a demon) taking the supreme form of Lord Ranganatha. They wanted to have that idol, but it was futile to ask Vibhisana. Then they plotted against him, and Lord Ganesha gave his consent to help the devtaas.
One day, Vibhisana, thought of taking a bath in the Cauveri river and do his daily rituals. The idol he was carrying, if placed on the land could never be removed. So, he reuested a boy playing nearby to hold the idol while he completed the rituals. He instructed the child not to place the idol on the ground. The boy told him that when he was tired, he will call upon Vibhisana thrice and if he did not respond, he will put the idol on the ground and will go to play.
Vibhisana went to the river, and while he was taking a bath the child called upon Vibhisana. He did not respond, as he was in the deep water. The child put the idol on the ground, and the idol started expanding. Seeing this, Vibhisana came out from the water rushing to the child. Seeing the idol on the ground he tried hard to lift it, but all his efforts were in vain. Infuriated by the boy’s actions, Vibhisana started chasing him. The boy ran to a hill and sat there. Vibhisana came running after the boy and knocked him on his head. The boy then revealed his true identity of Lord Vinyagar (Lord Ganesha).
The idol which is in the temple still has a knock on his head.
The Trinetra Ganesha Temple in Ranthambore, Rajasthan is one of the oldest and the most famous temples in Rajasthan. The temple is situated in the magnificent fort of Ranthambore. This temple is situated at a distance of 12 kms from Sawai Madhopur.
The story of this temple dates back to the year 1299 when a war broke out between King Hameer and Ala-ud-din Khilji at the Ranthambore fort. The war continued for a long time, and the food stock was running low. King Hameer was an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha. Amidst all the problems and tensions, he never forgot to worship Lord Ganesha. King Hameer saw Lord Ganesha in his dream and the Lord promised him that all the problems that he was facing would be sorted by the morning. In the morning, an idol of Lord Ganesha as Trinetra (three eyes) was found in one of the fort’s walls. As promised by Lord Ganesha a miracle happened and the war got over.
Ganesha Chaturthi is one festival that is celebrated with pomp and show in this temple. Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated to commemorate the origin of Lord Ganesha. It is believed that Ganesha was born on the day of Ganesha Chaturthi. On Ganesha Chaturthi, thousand of devotees come and worship Lord Ganesha. They sing Bhajans (devotional songs), chant verses and participate in religious programs in the temple.
The Ranthambore Fort has got its name from the two adjoining hills near the fort i.e. the Rann and the Thambore hill. The Fort itself is a piece of architectural marvel. The walls are about 7 kms in length and cover an area of about 4 sq. kms. Many old ruins like cenotaphs, old houses and temples still mark the presence of ancient buildings here. The walls are surrounded by colossal stone walls which are strengthened by towers and bastions. The mines that were a common sight at one time in the fort are now ponds which are used for storing water. These ponds act as water reservoirs. The Ganesha temple is situated just at the entrance of the gate of the fort. The main entrance originally had four gates, out of which only one is still standing. There are still many ruins of buildings inside the fort. Hameer’s court, Badal Mahal, Dhula Mahal, Phansi Ghar are some such ruins. The eastern part of the fort is still wild so people prefer to stay at the western part of the fort. There is a small perennial stream that flows in the eastern part of the fort. In the eastern parts, one can see a large number of birds, leopards, langurs, and many wild cats.
A good day to visit the fort (besides Ganesh Chaturthi), is Wednesday as it is considered as Ganesha’s day. On Wednesday, many people dressed in their best fineries come to visit the shrine. It is said that by worshipping Lord Ganesha in this fort, a family would never be deprived of any amenities in life.
The Hindus in North America felt the need of community worship in the late sixties and started thinking of building a temple. The Hindu Temple Society of Canada was founded in 1973, as a non-profit religious institution. The trust was started with just ten members with a motive of starting a temple as soon as possible. For about ten years, the trust was not able to do something fruitful, but they were still determined to start the temple. There were certain socio-economical reasons due to which the idea did not shape up well. Finally, they bought a piece of land in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto. The site was sanctified in October 1983, and an ardent task of building a temple was started. Lord Ganesha’s idol was consecrated at a temporary altar in 1984, which was later moved to permanent and swanky building. This is the sole Hindu temple that was built entirely by kar–seva (volunteer labor) and a priest was called from India. In 1987-88, the construction began with the help of lots of volunteers, as a result of which the trust was able to cut on labor cost. On 2nd July 1988, the services of the main temple started with the installation of Lord Murugan in his abode. The overall design was done by renowned architect Mr. V. Janakiraman Sthapati. He is from the same family who built the famous Thanjavur Temple in South India during the Cholas reign. He designed the entire temple with his team of sculptors. The temple turned out to be a piece of marvel. Two vimanas (Altar Towers) were built on the top of the altars of Lord Murugan and Lord Venketeshwara. A special prayer, Abhishekam was done in the late 1990s for these two altars. Another landmark was reached on April 7, 2002, when all the Azhwaars and a Ramanuja were installed and consecrated in the temple. The Richmond Hill temple was the first to do so. The temple is said to be the largest among all and is still run under the guidance of Agama Sastra (A scripture for South Indian which describes the architecture of a temple. All temples are constructed abiding the rules of this sastra). The Muruga Vigraha idol is the longest idol in the world. The same trust that started the work is managing the temple.
The Temple Complex
The three deities are in their own different altars (moola sthanas) and individual towers (vimanas). The original idea of the temple was to construct a temple for Shiva–Vishnu and two separate altars of Lord Murugan and Shri Venketeshwara. The day Lord Ganesha’s idol was installed, Pooja– Archana (prayers) began the very first day and the project moved smoothly without any obstacles. For a long time, only Lord Ganesha’s idol was worshipped at the temple and thus the temple got its name as Shree Ganesha Temple. Then Mother Durga’s idol was installed. Over the period of time, devotees became too attached to Lord Ganesha. The permanent phase of the temple begun and, Lord Ganesha was moved to a prominent place in the middle with a separate ‘mool sthana’ in accordance to the wishes of his devotees.
The main deities in the temple are: