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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Asthavinayak – Girijatmaj

Contributed by Rupali

Girijadmaj Temple is the sixth Ganesha Temple to be visited during the Ashta Vinayaka yatra. The sixth of the Ashta Vinayaka idols and in a most unusual setting is the Girijatmaja temple. Located in the Lenyadri village in Junnar Taluka Girijatmaj Vinayak refers to the Ganesh as the son of Parvati. Girija is another name for Parvati and Atamaj means son. This shrine is on the banks of river Kukdi and 95 kms.away on the north of Pune.Girijaatmaja Vinayak at Lenyadri hills in Maharashtra is a representation  of  Ganesha in the form of an infant. There are 283 steps to reach the temple.The Murty is facing north and there are Shivashankar and Hanuman on sides.

The Ganesh Puran calls this place as Jirnapur or Lekhan Parbat. This is the only temple of the Ashtavinayak which is on a mountain and is set in a Buddhist cave-temple. The Girijatmaja temple is carved out of a single stone without any pillar to support the 57 ft by 51 ft hall. The temple is set upon the Lekhan Hills in a cave by the banks of the river Kukdi. The cave is reached by a flight of 321 steps. This temple of the Ashtavinayak is the only one which perched on a high hill and is set in a Buddhist cave-temple. 

A Buddhist stupa is also located just beside the main cave. Another nearby attraction here is the Shivneri fort where the legendary Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was born.The drive itself is an awesome experience with sugarcane fields on either side and later on amidst the tall Eucalyptus trees. There is a total of 18 caves here all of Buddhist origin with proof that they date back to even 3rd century. 

Unlike other idols of the Ashta Vinayaka fame the Ganesha idol is bereft of any decor. Legend has it that Parvati performed penance to beget Ganesha here hence Girija's (Parvati's) Atmaj (son) is Girijatmaj. This temple stands amidst a cave complex of 18 caves of Buddhist origin and is the eight Cave.

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