The location – The sixth Lenyadri Ganpati temple to be visited in the Ashtavinayaka yatra, Lenyadri has the distinction of being the only one which is located in a
mountain cave. Lenyadri is located in Junnar taluka of Pune, at a distance of about 108km.The nearest major railway station is Igatpuri at a
distance of 60km. Junnar town which is only 7km away is well connected by bus to other parts of Maharashtra.
The legend – The Lenyadri Ganpati temple legend is described in the Ganesha Purana. It is believed that Lenyadri is the place where Devi Parvati practiced
austerities for twelve long years with the desire of having a son. Ganesha was pleased with her worship and gave her the blessing that he himself
will be born as her son. It was here at Lenyadri that Ganesha was born to Parvati or Girija which is her other name, hence the name “Girijatmaja”
meaning son of Girija. For 15 years, Ganesha lived at Lenyadri and during this time he had a number of encounters with asuras sent by the
fearsome Tripurasur to kill him. In all these encounters, Ganesha emerged victorious and eventually went on to slay Tripurasur later on.
The temple story – Lenyadri or Ganesh Lena has a unique location because instead of a traditional temple, it is situated inside a Buddhist cave
complex. These Buddhist caves dating back to 1st to 3rd century AD were built by Hinayana sect of Buddhists and comprise of viharas and chaitya
grihas numbered from one to twenty six. Cave 7 is the Lenyadri Ganpati temple but nobody knows when and how this Buddhist cave transformed into a
Hindu temple. As is typical of Buddhist architectural style, the cave complex is decorated with stone pillars, capitals with floral motifs, figures of
animals and some paintings as well. Cave 7 is a large hall which was possibly a vihara for Buddhist monks, now the central hall has been
transformed into the sabha mandapa of the temple. The hall has beautiful wall paintings depicting incidents from Ganesha’s life such as his
childhood, marriage preparations and battles with demons.
The irregularly carved stone idol has a leftward bent trunk and only one of his eyes is visible. The idol has originated from the wall of the cave itself
and its features are least distinct when compared with the other Ashtavinayaka idols. During Peshwa rule it was covered in a wooden armour plated
with brass. Another interesting anecdote is that during Peshwa rule it was widely believed that the backside of the idol is visible and that his face is
turned northwards, inside the mountain. Till today nobody has been able to locate it though. After the wooden armour was removed, it was discovered
that Ganesha’s face is actually turned eastwards, that’s why only one eye is visible. The occasions of Ganesh Jayanti and Ganesh Chaturthi are
Things to do around – Lenyadri temple being situated on a mountain range makes for a good site for hiking. Apart from that there are a number of
tourist spots in the vicinity. The famous Shivneri fort which was the birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is only 8km away. If one wants to
explore the area further, then the pristine Pimpalgaon Joga dam and the famous hill station Malshej Ghat are also within a 30km radius from here.
Also Read : THE MAHALAXMI TEMPLE | THE SIDDHIVINAYAK TEMPLE
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