The Ashtvinayak Odyssey

Let me give you a brief about Ashtvinayak (8 Ganeshas). It is a pilgrimage of 8 temples in Maharashtra, each temple having its own history. Some of these idols are Swayambhu (self-existent) which means they were not created, but discovered in that form.

This trip was pending since long and when we started we just had a rough idea of the route ( courtesy a sketch of a map pulled from the net). Now let us get going and let me take you along on this trip.

Day 1: Normal practice is to start from Mumbai or Pune. Depending on your energy, it takes 2 or 3 days to visit the 8 temples covering about 700 kms. My family( parents,wife ,2 kids and yours truly ) started from Bangalore in our Innova, with me at the wheels. We left around 8 am and took the NH4 towards Mumbai. This national highway is part of the golden quadrilateral and is still unfinished in some parts. This does slow you down sometimes, but overall the 4 lane highway is superb. Enroute, we passed Tumkur, Chitradurga, Hubli and finally reached Kolhapur at 5 pm in the evening, covering 600 odd kms. We decided to pitch tent there. Checked into a nice and comfortable hotel suite(with extra beds) in Maratha Regency ( Rs. 2000/- breakfast included)

Day 2: The Ashtvinayak odyssey started. Left Kolhapur at around 9 am and took a detour from NH4 at Satara towards Morgaon. It was a single track road, bumpy in many places. We reached Morgaon (Mayureshwar temple) around 12 noon and my God what a queue at the temple.


Moregaon temple

We realized that it is Christmas vacation time and also a long weekend. The temple looks like a small fort. Anyway, we had darshan and then gulped down some delicious and invigorating “ganne ka ras” ( sugarcane juice). Maharashtra does have top of the line quality sugarcane. From Morgaon onto Siddhatek, a distance of about 75 kms.


Siddhatek temple

Siddhatek (Siddhivinayak) is on the banks of river Bhima. Thankfully, not a long queue at the temple. We had lunch at 5 pm near the banks of the river. It was prepared by a local family and consisted of piping hot delicious local fare, junka ( prepared from besan) and bhakri ( bajre ki roti)with onions. Post the late lunch, we started for the 3rd temple at Ranjangaon (Mahaganapati temple), a distance of about 100 kms. Siddhatek to Ranjangaon was a dream route. After asking the locals for directions, we ended up driving on a10 feet wide track with sugarcane fields on both sides. Darkness had already fallen, but the moon was up and sprightly. At one point, I switched off the headlights and the engine. The quiet and stillness with an occasional rustle of sugarcane was worth experiencing. But then, my family got a bit scared and we drove on. Reached Ranjangaon around 9 pm in the night. Had a nice darshan and then started for Pune for a night halt. As it was 11:30 in the night, did not have much choice of hotels. Anyway, checked into a not so good Tourist International hotel( never go there).

Day 3: The next morning onto the 4th temple at Theur (Chintamani temple), hardly 30 odd kms from Pune. Absolutely no crowd over there and we had the temple to ourselves. To top it, photography was allowed inside the temple. From Theur, it was a long drive of about 150 kms to the 5th temple at Ozhar (Vignahar temple). We were met with a big queue, but as usual a very orderly line. After having a good darshan we started for the 6th temple, Lenaydri(Girijatmaj temple).


Lenaydri temple

Now this one is quite different from the rest. It is situated on hill inside an ancient cave with 200 steps leading upto it. Yes, my daughter, Srishti, counted the steps. The cave is very big and has a number of other caves adjacent to it, though we did not have the time to explore those. Came down and indulged in a bit of shopping. Can you believe we bought a kg of raisins for just Rs.100. They are grown in a vineyard at the foothills. From Lenaydri, it was a non-stop drive of 200 kms to Lonavla, the famed hill station. We checked into Rishikesh Resorts in a suite for just Rs. 3200. After getting refreshed, we just roamed in the bazaar of Lonavla and bought the usual variety of chikkis.

Day 4: Started early, straight onto the 7th temple at Mhad (Varadavinayak temple) and were pleasantly surprised to find no crowds there. A deepak (lamp) lit inside the temple has been continuously burning since 1892. From Mhad, we went onto the 8th and the final in the series. This is a place called Pali, about 50 kms from Mhad. The Ganapati idol at Pali (Ballaleshwar temple) is very big. We had also decided to hold the mundan ( first hair cut) ceremony of my one and a half year old son, Samanyu, at the temple. So we had a fair number of relatives who came from Mumbai for the ceremony. Later, we had lunch at the priest’s home in the village. Lunch was a simple, but delicious village fare. Even just writing about it makes my mouth water.

From Pali, it was onto Mumbai which we hit by evening.

I hope you enjoyed the trip with me. I have tried to keep the account brief, touching upon the route and distances. The return trip from Mumbai to Bangalore is, of course, another road trip which will be posted separately.

12 Comments

  • Sarva says:

    Nice Post. I have been planning to make a visit all the temples. The directions and kms from each temple would be really useful. We would be well prepared for the crowd aswell.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    I was not aware of Ashtvinayak, your fluid description made me richer. Lovely pics. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Good to see you back (after a long interval though) with an admirable write up on Ashtvinayak pilgrimage. Very lucid and informative post.

    I was amused to read about the Tourist International Hotel – Never go there.

  • Sahi hein Sudhir bhai. I was there while you were planning for the trip. I never heard of Ashtivinayak, good read.

  • Laxmi says:

    Are kya mast likha hai Sirji ( Sudhir ji),

    wOW,I could almost picturise and travelled with u for the reason u narrated it was so simply beautiful.

  • backpakker says:

    Amazing journey and post coming from another Bangalorean …this is a trip I must do sometime and I will get in touch with you for further details then …thanks for sharing
    lakshmi

  • Roopesh says:

    It is quite a feat to do Ashtavinayaka trip in one shot. I hope to do this with my parents. I believe there are tours from travel agencies to cover this circuit in 2-3 days but going around in your own vehicle is definitely better.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Beautifully and crisply written Sudhir. Generally I prefer that if there are few places mentioned in a post they should be divided among a few posts, but yours was an exception. I never felt the need.

    Junka-bhakri watered my mouth and travelling among the sugar-cane field in the night touched my imagination.

  • Hi, Vaishnavi holidays & forex pvt. ltd. Tour Operator – Every friday we plan for Ashtavinayak Yatra. including 8 Ganesh Darshan, Jejuri, Balaji temple, Vaishnodevi Temple, Alandi ( Sant Jalaram Temple & Sant Gyanenshwar Temple ) with all food, 2x 2 Non Ac Luxury Bus, Personal Kitchan & Deluxe Hotel on AC room Twin sharing. Just Rs. 2600/- only.

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  • vinod kapoor says:

    Hi, Vaishnavi holidays & forex pvt. ltd. Tour Operator Every friday we plan for Ashtavinayak Yatra. including 8 Ganesh Darshan, Jejuri, Balaji temple, Vaishnodevi Temple, Alandi ( Sant Jalaram Temple & Sant Gyanenshwar Temple ) with all food, 2x 2 Non Ac Luxury Bus, Personal Kitchan & Deluxe Hotel, AC ROOM Twin sharing. Just Rs. 2600/- only.

    Please call me : 9076313130 / 9324125597 Vinod kapoor

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  • santosh says:

    ashtavinyak yatra every friday

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