Monday, September 8, 2014

16 Ancient Ganesha Temples in India

It seems like yesterday when our beloved elephant headed God, Ganesha had descended on earth and made Mumbai Pandals His temporary place of residence. But it's been a complete 11 day tour for Him and after all the fanfare, merrymaking, lessons teaching and modak popping, He is all set to ride back to His divine abode! It's Ganesh Visarjan today and with a heavy heart, we shall bid Him goodbye but the faithfuls also know, He is always there - either in the pandals or in the temples and above all in our consciousness.

So that the melancholy of Ganesha departure does not weigh me down, I decided to bring out a collaborative post by bloggers on 'Ancient temples of Ganesha in India' where He has been residing since ages to meet His innumerable fans like you and me! Though comprehensive, the list is certainly not definitive and you can add more in the comments section. Here it goes (in no order):

1. Ashtavinayaka - Maharashtra

Lenyadri Ganesha, Pune Maharashtra, Astvinayaka

Ashtavinayaka is a group of eight Ganesh temples in Maharashtra that are considered very important by the devotees of Lord Ganesh. These eight temples house the ‘swayambhu’ or ‘self-formed’ idols of the Lord Ganesh, hence the importance and high reverence attached to this octet. A pilgrimage to the Ashtavinayaka is considered to be a milestone in the devotee’s life. The eight temples/idols of the Ashtavinayaka in their religious sequence are: 1. The Moreshwar Temple at Moregaon 2. The Siddhivinayak Temple at Siddhatek 3. The Ballaleshwar Temple at Pali 4. The Varadavinayak Temple at Mahad 5. The Chintamani Temple at Theur 6. The Girijatamak Temple at Lenyandri 7. The Vighnahar Temple at Ozar 8. The Mahaganapati Temple at Ranjangaon.

2. Parvathi Ganesha of Hampi - Karnataka:

Parvathi Ganesha of Hampi, Karnataka

Hampi is one of the most sought after heritage sites in Karnataka. Containing the ruins of the erstwhile Vijayanagara kingdom (14th Century AD), Hampi draws tourists from all over the world to admire the architectural splendour of the Vijayanagara period. Out of the numerous monuments that feature in the must see list of anyone visiting Hampi, probably the most endearing is the Parvati Ganesha. This 16 ft Ganesha looks like any other from the front sitting in a mandapa that is typical of the Vijayanagara style of architecture. But when one goes around to the back you find that the Ganesha is actually sitting on the lap of his mother Parvati! One has to but appreciate the creativity of the sculptor!

3. Gokarna MahaGanapathy Temple, Gokarna - Karnataka

Gokarna Mahaganapathi Temple near Mahabaleshwar, Gokarna, Karnataka

Sri Maha Ganapathi Temple at Gokarna is no ordinary temple, but has a history going back centuries, in an era long before the events of the Ramayana took place.

Located near the Mahabaleshwar Temple housing the Shiva Atmalingam, this temple stands as a mark of respect to Lord Ganapathi, who had tricked the demon Ravana into giving up his special lingam - The Atmalingam (received as a boon from Lord Shiva) and appeased the fears of the Gods. The temple has a rare standing Ganesha, 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and two-handed; on his head is a small depression, which is said to be a mark of Ravana’s fury. The temple has its own identity and is also known as Sidda Ganapati.

4. A Farmer’s Treasure, Bhongir - Telangana:

Musical Ganeshas, Kanchipuram district

I was visiting Bhongir Fort, built by Kakatiya Kings of Warangal, about 60 KM outside Hyderabad on the Warangal Highway. At the boundary of the fort there are fields of a friend’s family and one day while his grandfather was tilling the fields they discovered an ebony idol of Ganesha with the trunk curved towards right, while most Ganapati idols have their trunks curved towards left. It is believed that the idol is many hundreds of years old but the farmer’s family has just left it in open in the field. It is believed that if a Ganesha idol is found with trunk curved towards right it signifies a hidden treasure. But when I asked the farmer if he or his family tried to dig for the treasure he simply smiled and said "Our land is our treasure, we have found God on our land, what else can be bigger treasure than finding Ganesha on our land ?"

I was too humbled by his answer and silently prayed to Ganesha.

If you are ever visiting Bhongir Fort (Old Name: Bhuvan Giri), just look at the first field at the base of the fort and take permission from the family to go and look at this rare idol of Ganesha that is blessing the land of Telangana for centuries.

5. Gulur, Tumkur District - Bangalore:

Gullur Ganpati, Tumkur District, Bangalore

Gulur, a small village in Tumkur district is known for its unique way of celebrating the festival of Ganesh Chathurthi. According to the local priest, there lived a poor brahmana in the village whose difficulties only increased with time. One day, Lord Ganesha appeared in his dreams and told  him that if he performed his (Lord Ganesha's) puja, then he would be relieved of all his difficulties. The brahmana was unaware of the formalities involved in performing the puja, and hence tried to gather information about it. While doing so, he met the Sage Agasthya who at that time was travelling from South to North and had halted at the village of Gulur. The brahmana explained everything to him and the sage helped him perform the puja,  the  rituals of which are followed even today. The sage first instructed him to collect clay from a nearby lake from which they made an idol of Lord Ganesha, about 8 to 9 feet tall, and performed rigorous puja continuously for 30 days. Later, the idol was immersed in the lake. After fulfilling these rituals as per the Lord's wish, the brahmana was relieved of all his problems. Since then, he continued to perform the puja every year and the ancient tradition of making the idol with locally available clay is being followed even today with equal fervor. The puja begins on the day of Balipadyami (Deepavali) and continues for about a month. The annual jatra is held on the third day after completion of the Karthika Masa. There is a  permanent idol of Lord Ganesha and Sage Agasthya, in the temple. A pillar stands at the entrance, opposite to the temple.

This unique tradition of hand sculpting a huge idol of Lord Ganesha with locally available materials and worshiping him ardently, in addition to the enthusiasm of the localites in celebrating Ganesha festival makes Gulur worth a visit, surely more than once.

Directions from Bangalore: Bangalore-Tumkur NH4-Via by-pass to Gubbi-Left near Maralur Lake towards Kunigal-Left near Gulur Circle.

6. Ekadasha Swayambu Ganapathis of Shenbakkam, Vellore:

Ekadasha Swayambu Ganapathis of Shenbakkam, Vellore

Shenbakkam is a part of Vellore and is found off the Chennai-Bangalore Highway. This place is famous for its Navabrindavanam of Madvaite Saints and Ekadasa Swayambu Ganapathis. Originally called Swayampakkam, referring to the Swayambu Ganeshas, the place is currently called Shenbakkam. Once a Maharashtrian Minister named Thukoji was travelling when his chariot hit something in the dark and the axle broke forcing him to stay overnight there. In his dream it was revealed to him that eleven naturally formed Ganeshas were found underground arranged in the shape of Om and he gladly built a temple after unearthing them.

7. Ganpatipule, Ratnagiri - Maharashtra

Ganpati Pule Ganesha - Ratnagiri, Maharastra

Nestled in the heavenly lap of nature by the dancing sand dunes of the pristine beaches of the Konkan coast of Maharastra is a nearly 400 year old ancient Swayambhu Ganpati Temple (Swayambhu means a self-originated idol, Ganapati) - Ganpatipule. It is one of the 'Ashta Ganapatis' (eight Ganpatis) of India and is known as 'Paschim Dwar Devta' (Western Sentinel God) hence remains flooded by thousands of devotees and tourists every year.

Ganapatipule is approximately 375 km. south of Mumbai, and has no rail head. The nearest Railway stations are at Ratnagiri and Bhoke.

8. Pillaiyarpatti Karpaga Vinayagar Kovil Temple, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu:

Pillaiyarpatti Karpaga Vinayagar Kovil Temple, Chettinad, Tamil Nadu

Believed to be 1600 years old, Karpaga Vinayagar temple in Chettinad, Tamil Nadu has this image of Karpaga (black) Vinayagar (Lord Ganesha), carved out of a single black stone by a sculptor called Ekkattur Koon Peruparanan. The trunk of Lord Ganesh here is curled towards right side. He is ‘Valamburi Vinayagar’ and believed to be a powerful deity who makes devotees’ wishes come true. Another unusual factor is the idol faces north direction. Yet another unique feature is Vinayaga here is with two arms, elsewhere in other temples Vinayaga idol is featured with 4 arms.

Location - Pillayarpatti is situated at a distance of 71 Kms from Madurai and 12 Kms from Karaikudi on Thirupathoor - Karaikudi state highway in Tamil Nadu.

9. The Shri Gopal Ganapati Temple, Fermagude, Goa:

Shri Gopal Ganpati Temple, Fermagude, Goa

This temple of Ganesha is situated in Fermagude, in Ponda at about 26 kms from Panjim. This temple is well kept and has a beautiful deepasthmabha (a multi tiered lamp post) in front and flooring of  temple is bright and beautiful, etched with Radhe Krishna motif. There are dwarapalakas on either side of the sanctum and a huge idol of Ganesha adorned with Silver.

Hundreds of years ago a stone idol of Ganesha was discovered by herdsmen while grazing the cattle. The idol was covered with Silver alloy in 1966 by the then Chief Minister of Goa.

10. Shreemant Dagduseth Halwai Ganapati Temple, Pune, Maharashtra:

Shreemant Dagduseth Halwai Ganpati, Pune Ganesh_Chaturthi-

Shreemant Dagduseth Halwai Ganapati Temple is one of of most iconic temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha in Pune, Maharashtra. The temple was established by Dagduseth, a famous Sweets merchant from Pune, in 1896, and was coincided with Lokmanya Tilak starting the Public Ganesh Festivals in 1894 as a mean to bring unity and nationalism in the society. The idea of building the temple came after the tragic loss if Dagduseth's son. His Guru advised him to make two idols of Shri Dutta Maharaj and Sri Ganapati and care for them like his own sons.

The temple has a rich and intricate architecture and is managed by the Halwai Ganapati Trust. Every year during the Ganeshotsava, the temple is beautifully decorated and special puja is perfomed. Lakhs of visitors come to have a darshan at the temple every year.

11. Musical Ganeshas, Kanchipuram:

Musical Ganeshas, Kanchipuram district

There are two Ganeshas in different temples in Kanchipuram district who are associated with music. The first is the Kutchery Vinayagar of Cheyyur. This temple dates back to over a thousand years. Here the Lord Ganesha is seen in a separate shrine, with his head titled to one side, swaying to the tunes of the various concerts that have been held before him over time. He also holds an Aksamalai instead of the Paasa in his forearm. Several reputed singers of yesteryears and aspiring singers of today have performed before him in order to succeed in their music careers.

Not very far from here, is the Sangeeta Ganapathy of Anoor. He is found on the alcove of the Astrapureeswarar Temple, with his hand on his thigh as if he is keeping count (Taal) to music. This Ganesha dates back to the 5th century. Worshipping him for seven days is said to grant the wishes of the devotees.

12. Achu Muri Vinayagar of Achirupakkam:

Achu Muri Vinayagar of Achirupakkam

When Lord Shiva set out to burn the Tripuras, the three mythical cities of the sons of Tarakasura, he forgot to worship Lord Ganesha who must be worshiped before beginning any new task. To remind his father and the world of this, Lord Ganesha broke the axle of his father's chariot. Axle is called Achu in Tamil and Muri is breaking. Lord Shiva installed a Ganesha at the place where the axle broke, and worshipped him before moving ahead with his mission. This Ganesha is called Achu Muri Vinayakar and the place is called Achirupakkam (the place where the axle was broken).

13. Manakula Vinayaka Temple, Pondicherry:

Manakula Vinayaka Temple, Pondicherry

This temple is found in the erstwhile French territory of Pondicherry (Pudhuchery now). The temple dates back before 1666, and houses the Manakula Vinayaka. The name has come about from a pond (kulam) that used to exist in the temple and considering the proximity to the sea used to get filled with sand (Mann). The uniqueness about this temple is that during the French rule, this Ganesha has been thrown several times into the sea but used to reappear the same place the next day. The temple has two rows of different kinds of Ganeshas lining its ceiling.Mother Mira of the Aurobindo Ashram is said to have had several visions of Manakula Vinayaka and his grace helped raise money for the ashram.

14. Trinetra Ganesh Temple Ranthambore - Sawai Madhopar, Rajasthan:

Trinetra Ganesha Temple Ranthambore, Rajasthan

Most travelers know Ranthambore for the tigers or for the formidable fort that tells the story of the valor of Rajput warriors.  But for the locals Ranthambore fort is also home to the most unique Ganesha Temple in the world – The Trinetra Ganesha Temple that is believed to be more than 700 years old. The Ganesha here has 3 eyes, like Shiva, hence the name Tri-Netra or Three Eye Ganesha. Along with Ganesha idols of his wives Ridhi Sidhi and two sons Shubh Labh are also worshiped in the temple. Painted in pink, the temple is situated within the precincts of the fort and normally touristy types give it a miss, but in my opinion it is a must visit to get the blessings of Ganesha, the first to be invoked amongst Hindu Gods.

The temple is in beautiful surroundings with the rear of the temple facing a deep gorge, as it was meant to keep the invaders away. The faithful complete a parikrama (circling the temple) of 7 KM and pray to Ganapati. There are a lot of Hanuman Langoors around the temple but most of them maintain a distance from humans and appear to be harmless.

Nearest Railway Station to  Ranthambore is Sawai Madhopur, which is well connected to major cities like Delhi , Mumbai etc.

15. Ganapathy Agraharam, Thiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu

Ganapathy Agraharam, Thiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu

This is an ancient Ganapathy temple dedicated to Ganesha, 12 Kms from Thiruvaiyaru. It is a quaint temple with interesting sculptures. We reached the temple just after it opened for the evening, and there was no one to guide us around. We ourselves noticed a few interesting sculptures and bronze idols, but it was only after I returned and was looking up the temples we visited for more information about the things we had noticed, that I read about an interesting idol of half- Ganesha and half-Hanuman. Such an idol is unique, and if you ever visit this temple, make sure you do not miss it.

16. SiddhiVinayak Ganpati, Prabhadevi and Borivli, Mumbai, Maharashtra

One of the most famous temples situated in Prabhadevi area of Mumbai is the 2 centuries old temple of Lord Ganesha - the Siddhivinayak Temple. This ancient Ganesha temple was constructed in 1801 and is famous for fulfilling wishes of the devotees.

Tuesday is considered to be the most important day for 'darshan' at this temple but even on the regular days the temple receives a heavy rush of believers. Made from a single black stone, one cannot help but admire the beauty of the deity which sports a trunk tilted to the right side. Flanking the deity on both sides are Riddhi & Siddhi, goddesses signifying fulfillment and prosperity. Stamped on the forehead of is Trinetra - an eye, which resembles the third eye of Lord Shiva.

Another Swayumbhu temple in Mumbai is the SiddhiVinayaka Temple in Borivli which is said to be self originated and ages old and much lesser crowded than SiddhiVinayak of Prabhadevi. Definitely worth a visit as well!

Dadar is the nearest railway station to Siddhivinayak Temple, Prabhadevi and the Swayumbhu SiddhiVinayak is situated at Borivli. Local trains are well connected and best way to reach these temples from within the city.


This list was compiled with humble gratitude to all wonderful bloggers who shared their travels with my diary and made this post possible:

- Np Prasad @ Desi Traveler
- Purnendu and Ekta @ Shadows Galore
- Indrani Ghose @ iShare
- Dhiraj and Amrutha @ Team G Square
- Priya Baskaran @ Aalayam Kanden
- Anu Shankar @ A Wandering Mind
- Deepak Amembal @ Magic Travels
- Chitra Manohar @ My Pilgrimage

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  1. Beautifully done.
    I have to visit many of them.

  2. That was an amazing post...Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah!!

  3. Those are some beautiful temples .. Thank you so much for sharing


  4. Thank you Renu. Through your diary, I could have darshan of such reknowned Ganpati temples. Jai Ganeshaya Namah!

  5. From the big to the not so big, from the elaborate to the not so elaborate, every one of these is majestic in their own right. Thank you for sharing them.

  6. Hi Arti,

    really nice compilation... I can mention two popular Ganesha Temples of South India

    One of the temple I can mention which you missed is Ganesha Temple at Idagunji

    and the other is quite popular as lot of devotees visiting Tirupathi are making it a point to visit this place Kanipakam Ganesha Temple (


  7. I would love to explore all these temples even though I have seen few of them.

  8. Very nice picture and description. Gana party bappa can never leave us. He is within us.

  9. Thank you for this lovely trip Arti.
    A nice spiritual start to my day.

    1. Wow Arti one of your superb the detailed write up ...I loved reading it and also admire your write up very impressive :)

  10. Divine post. I have visited some but hope I can visit others.

  11. Nice compiliation Arti. Have to visit many of them. I am sorry, I couldn't give you my article on time.

  12. Arti madam

    Very beautiful photographs. For most people only they knew few of these places. Thanks for sharing wonderful information which is useful to many people about these amazing temples.

    Arti madam please look into my following "Ganapati Bappa Morya" & "Lord Ganesha paintings portfolio" which i shared recently in my Heritage of India blog and share your comments for these posts.

  13. Great places of spirituality!
    Regards from Germany, Uwe.

  14. Truly awesome post , Great to read, Beautiful photos and great descriptions of Ganesha temples.Thanks a lot for sharing. ~da

  15. Amazing compilation Arti ...I thought of sending you pics after seeing the thread on Indi but guess will do it some time later...great to know so many Lord Ganesha Temples :)

  16. Nicely done, Arti.
    It was nice to read about all these Ganapatis. So much variety! :)
    I hope you had a good Ganesh Chaturthi. :)

  17. All beautiful. #2 and #7 take my breath away.

  18. Wonderful post and collection (with bloggers help) Arty! Each temple bears interesting stories related to Ganesh. the farmer idol was impressing with their belief on treasure and I also liked the creativity used on Hampi Ganesha and the reappearing Manakula Vinayagar.

    Here I leave a link for rock-cut ganesha, I used to check during childhood in sculptural town Mamallapuran

  19. Beautiful Ganesha idols. It was nice reading about Ganesha. Thanks for sharing.

  20. What a list ! Thanks for the wonderful compilation

  21. have been to just 3 of them ....many more to visit :)

  22. Great idea and collection..! Enjoyed every bit of this post..!

  23. Love this post, Makes me want to head back to India asap !


  24. Nice one. I would like to share a website which had the contents of the most popular temples around India with brief and clear informations. Please check out the following website:

  25. I only visited siddhi vinayak temple in your list, I also read your some previous and latest ganpati pandal article but I thought this article was awesome, lovely picture, interesting information.

  26. lovely informations about Lord Ganesha, Thank you

  27. India Famous for our culture and the Indian temples is perfect way to know Indian culture.

  28. The R or L trunk is based on the idol's R or L not the observer's R or L, I believe.

  29. I would like to visit all the ganapathy temple's as well as karthik temples and shiv temples across India before building golden temple at jug ad


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