The Hidden Gem: Old Dhundiraj Ganpati Temple, Vadodara.

Entrance door at the heritage Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat

Happiness often resides behind
open doors and
open hearts.

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A visit to Dhundiraj Ganpati is a must when you’re in Vadodara. Not only is it one of the oldest Ganesha temples in Gujarat, it is also not very well known which keeps its mystical aura intact. Plus the fact that it’s dedicated to the cute pot-bellied Lord Ganesha, who is always ever ready to remove all the obstacles in our way, makes this place even more alluring and one of the most prominent and ‘must-visit places to visit in Vadodara’.

But wait! There’s a catch.

If you thought meeting the obstacle remover was that simple and straightforward, well, think again. To meet the benign benevolent God, our very own Vighnharta, you have to face one of the biggest obstacles. You have to figure out the direction to the temple! And, it’s not quite easy.

After having a sumptuous traditional breakfast at the famous Khetla Aapa Tea Stall in Sayajiganj, Vadodara, we hired an Uber cab for Shrimant Dhundiraj Ganpati Temple. Driving down the old quarters, we soon found ourselves lost into the labyrinthine streets of the city crammed with innumerable buildings standing perilously close to each other, some of them in ruins while others seemingly disordered, abandoned or sagging about the pavilion of the balconies. Google maps failed us, we turned to the locals who didn’t prove of much help either; we kept turning left, sometimes right, until the confused chap, our driver, finally raised his hands up and dropped us nearby, in front of a Shani Temple (Mahadev Talav), to figure out the way and walk for ourselves.

Five to seven minutes later, we found ourselves finally standing at the main entrance of the nearly 200 year old Shrimant Dhundiraj Ganapati Temple located in the humble Wadi area of Vadodara.

200 year old heritage Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Mairal's Dhundiraj Ganpati Mandir in Suryanagar, Wadi area of Vadodara.

Modest in appearance and bereft of any dazzling makeup, the two storeyed temple radiated an old world charm right from the word go. Its pale pista green color coupled with the unpretentious down to earth wooded appearance highly appealed to me.

Teakwood heritage Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Entrance to the heritage historical hidden gem of Vadodara.

The entrance opened into a small courtyard where the beautiful temple stood serenely, away from the confusing maze of the outside world, in an elegant shade of blue. In the ocean of blue popped out bursts of yellow, orange and green used to color the elaborate floral motifs painted all over the beams, arches and the pillars.

200 year old ancient Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
The 170 year old temple at first glance!

According to history, the double storeyed temple was built by the Gopalrao Mairal in the year 1844, a diwan during the rule of Ganpatrao Gaekwad of the Maratha confederacy. The Maratha clan worshipped the God of good luck and success, the destroyer of obstacles, Lord Ganesha, as their ishta devta or personal deity. The worship was later taken up on a public platform as an idea to bring people from different walks of life together by Lokmanya Gangadhar Tilak which is today celebrated as the very popular Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

Elaborate carvings on door of Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara
Elaborately carved doors at heritage Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat

The architecturally important heritage temple is still looked after by the family run trust of Mairal Family, who has desperately tried to grab the attention of the Archaeological survey of India (ASI) and the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) to take up the maintenance of the temple and preserve it for future generations. After several failed attempts, the temple trust themselves took up the restoration work finally in 2017 and formed a committee of expert architects and artisans – the results of their hard work can be clearly appreciated today.

Having said that, a lot more can be done and more easily so if ASI can intervene what with the decrepit condition of the upper stories and visible cracks about the edges and beams.

Decrepit stories of the heritage Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Colorful arches at Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Wonderful restoration work by the Mairal trust; a lot more can still be done though.

In front of the temple is a mouse, the vehicle of Lord Ganesha, seated comfortably on a raised pedestal as against the feet of the Lord. There are stairs to climb the pedestal and meet the moushak raja. Bend a bit and see through his ears. Then, speak in his ears: He carries all the prayers to Lord Ganesha. Don’t know about that but what I can affirm is that between the two of them (and they are really tiny), I saw them holding the entire family of Lord Ganesha together!

Mushak at heritage Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
The mouse sits comfortably on a raised platform overlooking His master's family.

Made entirely of teak wook and spread in an area of 2,194.5 square kms., the temple is a beautiful amalgamation of the Gujarati and Maharashtrian haveli style of architecture reflected in the rich ornate doors and carvings on the pillars and walls.

200 year old Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Made from original teakwood, it stands on 44 pillars of 16 inch diameter each.
Beautiful teakwood Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara
The temple was constructed by labourers brought in especially from Hyderabad, Rajasthan and Mumbai.

Despite its rich regal legacy, there is an unmissable homely feeling one gets stepping in this temple. The vibes of goodness and love shines through in the room, which is quiet... a stillness clearly felt, a treasure perhaps passed down since generations and has till date remained intact, immune to the wear and tear otherwise seen in the building construction.

Lovely Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
It's quiet inside the temple room...

In the central part of the temple room is the sanctum sanctorum where Lord Ganesha resides flanked with His wives Riddhi-Siddhi on both the sides and sons Laabh and Laksh. Everyone in the family is following the dress code of blue keeping with the interiors of the sanctum sanctorum.

Beautiful rangoli at Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Take a few moments to pause and ponder.

Though a barricade is between me, the devout and Ganesha, but the silence here is powerful. It goes beyond any barriers, and carries whispers of the heart… it connects.

Ganesha deity at the heritage Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Shri Dhundiraj Ganpati along with His wives Riddhi and Siddhi.

After the darshan, spend some time wandering in the temple premises which is very interesting and intriguing too. Towards the left of the deity is an ornate fountain, I wonder if it comes to life anytime.

Passage with the fountain towards the left of the temple.
Lakshmi Kuber Temple in the Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple courtyard, Vadodara
Lakshmi Kuber temple in the front part of the courtyard.

On the backside, surrounded by bushes and unkempt foliage, is a Lord Shiva temple, housing a closed door. Does this door hold any secrets?

Shiva temple at Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Lord Shiva surrounded by unkempt foliage.

Budddha Footprints at Dhundiraj Ganesha Temple, Vadodara, Gujarat
Lord Buddha's footprints near Lord Shiva.

It is said that in the olden days, there exited a secret tunnel below the wada with a lot of wealth hidden in it. Guarded by a cobra (naag), the tunnel could be opened by chanting a mantra.

Is it a myth or is this a truth?

Who is to say but stories like these do lend to the place its fair share of mystique and to yatris like me, a sense of a hidden fantastical adventure.

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  1. Beautiful description with the history which makes such historical places more attractive, capture are very nice as usual.

  2. Beautiful captures and narration. A true yatri heaven!

  3. Beautiful and unique temple. Nice to know about it..

  4. Indeed a rare find and beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Hope to visit it sometime.

  5. Great to read. Wonderful temple.
    Amazing Photos.

  6. Wonderful coverage of the temple. A nice virtual tour of the temple through your text and photos.

  7. Nice walk through of the Dhundiraj Ganpati Temple. The history of the temple is interesting. All photos are nicely captured ๐Ÿ‘ Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. The haveli style temples are seen in Gujarath and Maharastra. This is one such kind. Very nicely written about history of the temple.

  9. The architecture of the temple is so impressive. I love how the outside looks too. And that very ornate blue door.
    And the deities seem to have been dressed up with so much care. That's such an impressive sight too.

    Thank you for showing us the Dundiraj Ganpati Temple, Arti. :)

  10. These photos of the Ganpati Temple draw my eye and feed my imagination, Arti. I am taken by the muted hues of the exterior and the vibrant colors inside. That little girl sitting quietly on the steps in the courtyard is charming. Perhaps she's communing with the mouse? I smiled that you tried to uber to this ancient temple.

  11. Glad the temple trust didn't give up and restored the place themselves! Hopefully people start visiting such old places more often, forcing government to take steps to preserve history the way it is supposed to.

  12. Such.a nice post with beautiful pictures.

  13. It is such a delight to read the post and view your captures,Arti. I am completely in awe of the wooden architecture of the temple premises and that door is stunningly beautiful. It would be a shame to see this eye-captivating temple in ruins. I hope we can do our bit by promoting this temple by tagging the right people on social media.You have done your earnest by writing this article!

  14. From the time you had posted a picture of the door of this temple, I was intrigued to know more about this temple and oh boy! what a find!! I am so thankful to you to actually not give up and find this beautiful temple with it's haveli interiors.Not just the doors but the ancient antique pillars look gorgeous too! <3

  15. The temple has certainly the homely feeling as you have described, Arti. Lord Ganesha looks as if blessing serenity in the entire temple, at every corner of it and in all the directions. The temple should be protected by the ASI for the future generations to feel the richness in the serenity. ๐Ÿ™

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  19. Such beautiful description. Totally in love with this temple.
    Had visited Vadodara years ago and had no knowledge about this
    shall try on my next visit.

  20. Such beautiful description. Totally in love with this temple.
    Had visited Vadodara years ago and had no knowledge about this
    shall try on my next visit.

  21. Hey, Your discription about the temple was beautiful ๐Ÿงก I want to know more about this temple. I'm working on my Archeology project and want to know more about the conservation and preservation of this temple. Can you suggest me source to refer from?

  22. Hi,
    Its surprising to know that this was not exposed earlier, such a gem of information


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