Temples of Maharashtra

Temples

Maharashtra is a land of temples. Whether it’s the torrential waterfalls at Bhimashankar or hot water springs at Trimbakeshwar, it’s all in the name of god.

Of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, Maharashtra boasts five: At Aundhya Nagnath, Parali Vaijnath, Bhimashankar, Trimbakeswar and Grishneshwar. God prevails across the state. At Solapur, seas of people join the palkhi procession, some barefoot, others with no possessions. They come, from various routes, all heading to the home of the supreme god of the universe, Pandharpur’s Vithoba. This gigantic temple dates back to the 13th century. Here, the banks of the river are flooded with faith in the incarnation of lord Shiva and Vishnu – they too ensure that caste and class are no barrier.

In Ahmednagar, the black stone god of Shani Shignapur protects his village. No homes have locked doors or windows; there is no reported crime. Apart from the resident god Shaneshwar, goddess Laxmibai, god Dattatraya, Ganesha, Shankar, Vishnu and Vitthoba in his Pundalika temple, all guard this land.

Around Pune, the much-loved remover of obstacles, Ganesh, manifests himself in eight natural stones within 20 to 110 km of each other. Devotees take tours or state government transport buses between Pune and the Ashta Vinayak temples.

In Mumbai, spirituality enshrines commerce. The Mahalakshmi temple is devoted to the goddess of wealth. At the famed Siddhivinayak temple too, the black stone Ganesha with his trunk turning right in the sanctum, is known to be over 200 years old. Tuesdays see thousands of devotees walking in barefoot. From old stalwarts to every new-comer, this gorgeously carved temple, has blessed most celebrities.

In Mumbai, spirituality enshrines commerce. The Mahalakshmi temple is devoted to the goddess of wealth. At the famed Siddhivinayak temple too, the black stone Ganesha with his trunck turning right in the sanctum, is known to be over 200 years old. Tuesdays see thousands of devotees walking in barefoot. From old stalwarts to every new-comer, this gorgeously carved temple, has blessed most celebrities.

Finally, there is Kolhapur – dotted with religiosity. At Mahalakshmi or Amba Bai temple royalty drops in to seek blessings of various deities. Construction apparently started in the seventh century, around this idol weighing 40 kilos. There is much more spirituality to Kolhapur. The Narasobachi Wadi, at the confluence of Krishna and Panchaganga rivers, is revered for Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh’s incarnation’s holy slippers. Ramteerth, graced by the river, a coffee plantation and orchards, houses ancient temples. Mythology states that Rama lived here during vanvaas (exile); today, picnickers frolic around. Seventeen km north-west, at 3,100 feet, Jyotiba is cocooned in the mountains near Kolhapur. Supposedly another incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, Jyotiba sees much festivity during full-moon nights.

  • With the firm belief that nothing new should ever be embarked upon without invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesh, the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple at Prabhadevi is understandably the most popular of places of worship in Mumbai. It was but a humble consecration by Mrs. Deubai Patil in early 19th century that is supposed to have started attracting hordes of worshippers soon after India’s independence to ‘Siddhivinayak’, as it is popularly known.

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  • Earlier known as Manipur, Ranjangaon near Pune is believed to have been created by none other than Lord Shiva. This was after Shiva prayed to Ganesha to make him victorious in a battle with the demon Tripurasur. It is said that this incident took place on the day of Tripuri Pournima, following which Shiva set up Ganesha’s idol in the form of ‘Mahaganapati’. The temple here is now known by that name. It is one of the ‘ashtavinayakas’ (8 Ganeshas) of Maharashtra.
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  • A city and a municipal council in Solapur district, Akkalkot is situated 40 kilometers southeast of Solapur and very close to the border between Maharashtra and Karnataka. The city is known for being home to Shri Swami Samarth Maharaj, a 19th century saint who is believed by his devotees to be an incarnation of God Dattatreya. During the British Raj, Akkalkot was a princely state ruled by the royal Bhonsale dynasty.
     
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  • Vajreshwari, the town named after the temple dedicated to goddess Vajreshwari Devi is known for its curative hot water springs emerging from the surrounding volcanic mountains. Vajreshwari Devi is an incarnation of goddess paravati. The ancient temple was supposed to have been built with the belief of the slaying of demon Kalikuli by the goddess. The temple was destroyed during the Portuguese invasion. Present temple is supposed to have been built in the year 1738 by Chimmaji Appa Peshwa, military commander of Peshwa Baji Rao I, who fought and won the Bassein (Vasai) Fort from the Portuguese. The temple is built like a fort.   
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  • One of the most popular places on the pilgrimage circuit of Maharashtra, the temple of Aundhya Nagnath is not just famous for its rock-cut images but also for the fact that it is considered to be the eighth (‘aadya’) of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’ in the country. The mythological name for this place is Darukavana and the highly decorated temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is a sight to behold. 
     
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  • A renowned town in Beed district, Parali is identified by the presence of the Vaijnath Temple, a ‘jyotirlinga’ temple on a small hill that attracts a large number of devotees all through the year. Parali is also known for a thermal power station. That apart, the small town provides a unique flavour of a laid-back atmosphere that is in stark contrast to the ‘life in a fast lane’ culture of most metro cities.
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  • Among the ‘ashtavinayakas’ (8 Ganeshas) of Maharashtra, references of Lenyadri can be found in the ‘Ganesh Purana’ as a Jeernapur or Lekhanparvat. These are Buddhists caves carved out in the hills near Junnar. In one of these caves is an image Girijatmaj Ganesh which is very unique among all the ashtavinayakas since it has been carved out of the cave wall and can be seen from the rear only. 

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  • One of the ‘ashtavinayaka’ (8 Ganeshas) temples in Maharashtra, the Siddhi Vinayak Mandir of Siddhatek is the only one in the Ahmednagar district. Located on the northern bank of the river Bhima in the Karjat taluka, it is close to the railway station of Daund and is accessible from the small village of Shirapur in Pune district, on the southern bank of the river, from where it can be reached by boat or a newly constructed bridge. The temple stands on a hillock, surrounded by thick foliage of Babul trees, which also makes it a tourist destination.

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  • One of the ‘ashtavinyaka’ (8 Ganeshas) temples of Maharashtra, the Chintamani Mandir of Theur is located 25 kilometers from Pune and is one of the larger and more famous of the eight revered shrines of Ganesha. Surrounded by the Mula river on three sides, it is just adjacent to the Pune-Solapur national highway. 

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  • Temple, Bhimashankarc_T
    A pristine natural environment with hills, waterfalls and forests; a wild life sanctuary and an ancient temple! Bhimashankar offers the ideal setting to find spirituality. It is also the perfect place for adventure lovers with a plethora of treks. Moreover this is where you can find the shekru the giant flying squirrel which is also the state animal of Maharashtra.
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  • For all those who believe in the power of Lord Ganesh, regular visits to the Siddhivinayaka Mahaganapati Temple at Titwala is always high on the ‘faith’ list. The place is steeped in ancient legend and the temple is also frequented by those who believe that separated married couples can be united and the marriages of desired people can be arranged easily if the Ganesha image installed in the temple is worshipped with devotion.
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  • As an architectural wonder that helps promote peace and harmony, the Global Vipassana Pagoda near Gorai in Mumbai is a landmark monument that brings us closer to the philosophies and teachings of the great Buddha. It also has the distinction of being Asia’s tallest stone structure that majestically rises against the background of the shimmering waters of the Arabian Sea.
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  • A tomb on an island in the middle of the Arabian Sea! Doesn’t that immediately sound enticing enough? But there is more to the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai than just its location. Such is the reverence that this Muslim saint commands that his final resting place draws the faithful from all communities who come here with the firm hope that their prayers will be answered. With a mosque located adjacent to the tomb complex, the edifice is also a brilliant specimen of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. 
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  • While Bandra in Mumbai is one of the elitist areas that is also home to some of the biggest retailer brands and fine dining restaurants, it is where the devotees of Virgin Mary congregate to pray and seek blessings at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, more commonly known as Mount Mary Church. The most looked forward to event here is the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated on the first Sunday after September 8.
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  • One of the most popular and revered gods in the Hindu pantheon is undoubtedly Lord Ganesha. And while there are temples dedicated to him in almost every city and village of Maharashtra, and even other states, the ashtavinayakas (8 Ganeshas) hold special importance for the devout. One of these is at Morgaon. The temple here is known as the Mayureshwar Ganesh Mandir and is the foremost centre of worship of the Ganaptya sect. It is also a place associated with Morya Gosavi, the saint of this sect.
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  • One of the ashtavinayakas (8 Ganeshas) in Maharashtra, the name of this temple is Varad Vinayak, meaning the one who blesses all the wishes. The temple is situated in a scenic place and behind the temple is a small shrine among bamboo trees that is dedicated to Shri Dattatreya. 
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  • Most places have interesting legends associated with them. One such is Ozar, located on the banks of river Kukadi in Junnar taluka of Pune district. An ‘ashtavinayaka’ (8 Ganeshas), it is said that Lord Ganesh had made Ozar his permanent abode after defeating a demon called Vighnasur. When the demon asked to be forgiven for his deeds, Ganesha became pleased and stayed at Ozar, taking on the name of the demon. 

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  • Located in the Sudhagad taluka of Raigad district, Pali is one of the ‘ashtavinayakas’ (8 Ganeshas), visited in huge numbers by the devotees of Lord Ganesh. Here, Ganesha is known with the name of his devotee, Ballaleshvar. Pali’s temple is indeed beautiful with the rays of the rising sun enveloping the deity in a golden hue each morning.


     
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  • If ever you go to Kolhapur, the one place that you must include in your travel itinerary is Jyotiba, the holy shrine of Lord Kedarnath up in the hills near the bustling city with its true Maratha flavour. It is not for nothing that Jyotiba is called the ‘The King of the Deccan’. Throughout the year the deity draws devotees in huge numbers. Also, it is known for being the family deity of the Scindias of Gwalior.
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  • Situated in Kolhapur, or the ancient city of Karaveer, the Mahalakshmi temple is among the major pilgrimages of the four goddesses worshipped by Hindus and figures prominently among the most visited places of pilgrimage in India. This abode of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, is particularly visited by thousands of devotees to witness the ‘luminous miracle’ where nature meets divine power. The goddess stands alone in the holy sanctum, resplendent in her fine robes and jewels. When the sun rises, its rays pierce the darkness and fall on her feet to seek blessings. The next day the rays reach upwards and on the third day the golden rays fall on her face and in moments the sanctum is bathed in luminous sunlight. This spectacle occurs twice every year. 
     
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  • For many in Maharashtra, Shree Dattatreya is a very popular deity and the Datta Sampradaya includes many saints and devotees of Shree Dattatreya. In this context, Narasobachi Wadi or Nrusimha Wadi is an important place of pilgrimage of the Datta Sampradaya and well known for the Shri Narasimha Saraswati Swami Dattadeva Temple. Its religious presence is further personified due to it being located at the confluence of the rivers Krishna and Panchganga in the Shirol tehsil of Kolhapur district.
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  • There can be nothing better than a perfect combination of divinity and nature. This is what takes place at Kumbhoj which is primarily a place of religious importance for the Digambar sect of Jains but has also been favoured by tourists because of the serene surroundings amidst which the temples are located.
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  • Any mention of the most popular erstwhile ruler of Maharashtra, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, would always remain incomplete without a note about the tremendous faith he had in the goddess Tulja Bhavani. As such, Tulja Bhavani of Tuljapur is considered the state goddess of Maharashtra and the family deity of the royal Bhosale family. Besides Maharashtra, Goddess Bhavani is the deity of many people from different states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Tuljapur is also one of the popular three-and-half ‘Shakti peethas’ of Goddess Durga. 


     
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  • Serene, sedate and unspoiled – these are the words often used to describe Ganapatipule, a place that not only beckons the faithful to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesh but also provides for a perfect holiday because of its beach with an almost endless stretch of silver sand and the sparkling blue waters of the ocean. In addition to that, the town itself has lots to offer by way of its typical Konkani culture and cuisine.
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  • Just chant ‘Ram-Krishna-Hari’ continuously and forget all your worries, anxieties, burdens, tensions et al so that you can begin to feel a new sense of absolute peace fill your mind. To experience this wonderful state of serenity as well as to lock into the sights and sounds of nature, book a ticket to Pawas. This is the place where Shri Swami Swarupanand, a divine personality, resided for years together. 
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  • Just 200 kilometers from Mumbai is one of the most heavenly places you are likely to find. That’s Harihareshwar for you – a coastal region that is home to a great beach, not to forget that it is also known as ‘Kashi of the South’ for the ancient temple of Lord Shiva. Harihareshwar therefore offers a great combination of natural beauty with spiritual enhancement.
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  • There is something to be said about a place where divinity reigns supreme. That is the case with Mahur or Mahurgad, one of the most religious places in Maharashtra. Mahur is said to be the birthplace of Hindu goddess Renuka, mother of Lord Parshuram. With three important temples on three hills, the temple of Renuka Devi is considered the most important and it is during the annual fair held on Vijayadashmi day that you must visit to truly soak in the spiritual ambience.
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  • Plateau of SajjangadT
    In a region that is essentially known for its hill forts, a long coastline with wonderful beaches and places of pilgrimage, Sajjangad in the district of Satara not only occupies a place of historical importance but tops the list when it comes to the devotees of Samarth Ramdas Swami, one of the most prominent spiritual mentors in this part of India. It was here that he stayed for a long time as also breathed his last.
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  • Some places become famous because of their beautiful landscape, others due to incidents associated with history. At Shivthar Ghal though, it is a combination of both. Also known as Sunder Math, this is a picturesque cavern inside a cliff located in Varandha Ghat in the Sahyadris on the Bhor-Mahad Road. It is here that the famous Marathi spiritual and social mentor-poet Samarth Ramadas Swami resided for almost 22 years, and created the famous work ‘Das Bodh’ with the aid of his most loyal disciple, Kalyan Swami, who worked as his writer. It is also believed that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj met Samarth Ramdas for the very first time at Shivthar Ghal.
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  • There rarely can be a place more significant, and even holier, than where a great philosopher has lived and breathed his last, spending years together in the service of mankind. This is true of the Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib in Nanded where Guru Gobind Singhji, the tenth of the 11 Sikh gurus, held his final congregation.
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  • If ever you have wanted to witness what deep faith is all about, visit Shirdi, the home of Sai Baba’s ‘samadhi’ that has his followers coming here in multitudes to seek his blessings and in hope of miracles that can change their lives. Just 83 kilometers from the city of Ahmednagar, Shirdi is also amazing for the fact that it draws people from all communities and castes, with each visitor firmly believing that his or her requests will be granted by the saint.
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  • Shegaon, the home of Shree Sant Gajanan Maharaj’s resting place, is not just another place of worship. The immense efforts undertaken by the Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan in the form of developing a rich landscape called the Anandsagar now draws tourists too.
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  • For every pious Hindu or Shaiva devotee, Ghrushneshwar is the last stop of what is known as the Dwadash Jyotirlinga Yatra. It is here that you will find the 12th ‘jyotirlinga’. Located near Verul (Ellora), 11 kilometers from Daulatabad in the Aurangabad district, Ghrushneshwar is also a favourite with tourists who come to see the caves of Ajanta and Ellora. If finding spiritual solace is your aim, Ghrushneshwar offers that and much more.
     
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  • What would you say about a village where its homes, shops or temples have no doors? Strange but true, this is the case with a village called Shani Shingnapur which is a unique place of pilgrimage where the deity himself stands under an open sky without shelter and the devotees and local residents enjoy a fearless life, all thanks to the blessings of Lord Shani who, it is believed, is very powerful and immediately punishes anyone attempting theft with blindness.
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  • The Saatmala-Ajintha range of the Sahyadris is famous for its 14 hill forts. It is also a trekker’s paradise. But there is more to it than that. Situated in this hill range is Vani, known as Saptrashrungi, which is a devotee’s delight for its temple on the hill and a huge 8-feet tall rock-cut highly ornamented image of Goddess Durga. The faithful come here in huge numbers throughout the year to have ‘darshan’ and also soak in the ambience of rugged nature.
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  • Lateral view of the temple at TrimbakeshwarT
    One of the holiest places that occupy a special position in the religious beliefs of every Hindu is Trimbakeshwar. One reason is that it is among the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’ dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located in the Trimbakeshwar taluka of Nashik district where the river Godavari originates at the adjacent hill of Brahmagiri, the place has both historical and mythological significance because of the presence of several caves which have had association with the ‘Nath’ sect. A circumambulation of this hill in the Hindu calendar month of Shravan is treated as an extremely pious act. The ‘Kumbh Mela’ which is the largest mass Hindu pilgrimage, is held here every twelve years and the next one will take place in July 2015.
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  • Just stand facing the sea from atop a small hillock; witness the golden ball submerging in the ocean; and enjoy the breeze wafting in from the ocean. And behind you will be the ancient temple of Shiva. To experience this supreme moment of being in absolute communion with nature and the forces that rule the universe, go to Kunakeshwar. Assuredly, there is no other place that will fill you with this feeling of tranquility and peace.
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  • Mere words cannot suffice to describe the intense spirituality that Pandharpur is associated with. Revered for its temple dedicated to Lord Vitthal, it is one of the most sacred towns in Maharashtra and is also the seat of the Warkari sect which has given the state a unique cultural and social dimension. Located in Solapur district, it has been named after a merchant who achieved self-realisation here.

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  • One of the most popular deities in Maharashtra is Khandoba and Jejuri is the best known town of pilgrimage for his devotees. What also makes a trip to this temple worth it is that it is situated on a hillock and offers a fascinating view of the surrounding rural landscape.

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  • If Gaganbavda is suddenly attracting the attention of filmmakers from Bollywood, there has to be a solid reason to it. It’s simple: Gaganbavda is one of the most beautiful hill stations of Maharashtra. Located in Kolhapur, it offers a fantastic view of the Konkan coastal region and the lush green Karul Ghat apart from emerging as a favourite destination for trekkers. In fact it is quite easy to travel to Konkan from the two passes nearby.

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  • thumb--ramtek

    Ramtek is a fine confluence of devotion, literature and history. Shri Ram, Seeta maai and Laxman who were living in self-imposed exile in the forest, had halted at Ramtek for a while for rest. Ramtek has an air of devotion. In 'Meghadoota', the great Sanskrit poet Kalidasa's play, the protagonist of the play – the Angel or the Yaksha was living a lonely life away from his dear wife here. The Yaksha invited a cloud as his messenger – a 'meghadoot' – to convey his sad state of mind to his estranged wife. That great epic play is said to have taken place in this Marathi region of Varhad. Kalidasa's 'Meghadoota' occupied a prominent place in Sanskrit literature. The region then witnessed the glorious dynasty of the Vakatakas, the remarkable tenure of Rajamata Prabhavati Gupta, and later, the historic dynasty of Nagpurkar Bhosale. The region of Ramtek, which is around 57 kilometers from Nagpur, the central city of India, is replete with ancient tradition and exploits of bravery. The Ramgiri hill is of just moderate height (113 m) perhaps in its attempt to compete a little with the ranges of the Satpudas. The temple of Shri Ram, Laxman and Seeta which is located on the hill-top is a pride of perch of the entire Vidarbha. 

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  • A familiar name especially among women, Paithan, located 56 kilometers south of Aurangabad, has shot into global prominence for its beautiful silk sarees which sport intricately embroidered gold or silver borders. That apart, it is known for being the birthplace of Sri Nimbarka, the founder of the Nimbarka Sampradaya tradition of Vaishnavism. The city was also the home of the great Maharashtrian saint Eknath Maharaj, whose ‘samadhi’ can be found there. 

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  • The city of Ambajogai has got a very rich historical, literary and cultural heritage. The land has been made holy by the presence of several religious spots and the touch of many great saints, seers and literary personalities.

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Temples - Destination