Ashtvinayak - 760 km of Maharashtra and eight beautiful Ganesh temples

Early morning,
Moon has landed and 
Sun is ready to take off
Birds are chirping and the leaves are rustling
We are ready with our bags
Placing the luggage and taking our seats
We are all set to take a break from the city.

As we travelled more towards the countryside, the sky became clearer and clearer showing its true blue colour, and in various shapes, clouds presented themselves, and with cool breeze, our day became more interesting. 

We were on our Ashtvinayak trip which was long due. My parents really wanted to make this pilgrimage tour, which I planned with a few additional pit stops like Malshej Ghat and an incredibly beautiful lake near Karanjale as well as added the popular Khandoba temple of Jejuri to my itinerary. 

Also instead of going for the traditional Ashtvinayak Yatra route we took the route as per our comfort.

Our route (including the additional places in the plan - in bold):
Day 1: Mumbai --> Malshej Ghat --> Karanjale lake --> Lenyadri (Girijatmaj Temple340 steps) --> Ozar (Vighnahar Temple) - Pune Nashik Highway --> Ranjangaon (Mahaganapati Temple) - Shikrapur Road - Shigoda --> Siddhatek (Siddhivinayak Temple) - Solapur Highway --> Moregaon (Moreshwar temple)

Day 2: Moregaon (Moreshwar temple) --> Jejuri (Khandoba temple, 380 steps) - Saswad Phata --> Theur (Chintamani Temple) - Wagholi bypass expressway --> Mahad (Varadavinayak Temple) - Goa highway --> Pali (Ballaleshwar Temple) - Konkan bypass Goa road (Vakan Phata) --> Mumbai

Traditional Ashtvinayak Yatra route:
Moreshwar temple at Morgaon --> Siddhivinayak Temple at Siddhatek --> Ballaleshwar Temple at Pali --> Varadavinayak Temple at Mahad --> Chintamani Temple at Theur --> Girijatmaj Temple at Lenyadri --> Vighnahar Temple at Ozar --> Mahaganapati Temple at Ranjangaon

Eight temples, eight distinct locations, spanning across Maharashtra and each temple boasting their own stories, legend, history, and distinct murtis (idols). Ashtvinayak yatra is a pilgrimage tour considered important by almost every Maharashtrian and it is believed that this yatra must be completed in one go before returning home. It is also believed that one must return to the first Ganpati after visiting all 8, and then the Yatra is considered complete.

Navi Mumbai to Malshej ghat ~ 150 km

Malshej Ghat

Malshej Ghat is a picturesque and famous motorable mountain pass in Maharashtra and favourite among many travellers for its rich flora and fauna and various spots (places of interest). Best time to visit it is from October to March, while, during monsoon, it becomes lush green and get covered by the blanket of clouds and fog, which makes Malshej Ghat more interesting but that also makes it accident prone during rains. We visited Malshej Ghat in December and were greeted by clear sky and cool breeze. It was a perfect weather.

Malshej ghat to Karanjale Lake ~ 10 km

Karanjale Lake

It's a beautiful lake with a dam named Pimpalgaon Joga (around 5 km long), situated on the Pushpavati river. The lake side is lesser known and not at all crowded and thus has a lot to offer from striking panoramic views to peace and quite. The place is rich in flora and fauna and a paradise for photographers.

Karanjale Lake to Lenyadri ~ 40 km

Girijatmaj Temple at Lenyadri 

Carved out of one single stone and with no pillars inside, this beautiful, peaceful temple stands amidst Buddhist caves. The temple can be reached by climbing 340 steps and it houses the Ganesh idol known as Girijatmaj (Girija's (Parvati's) Atmaj (son)) which is north facing and has its trunk to the left.

There is no electricity inside the temple, still is lit the whole day till the sun shines. While the walls have art work carved on them. 

Looking up from the bottom of the climb, the rock cut caves look like numerous small yet fascinating windows, full of mystery and history.

Lenyadri comes under the town of Junnar which is encircled by a series of hills on all sides which consist of numerous Buddhist rock-cut caves, numbering over 200, making this the largest number of caves at one place in the whole country. They are datable from mid 3rd century BC to late 3rd century AD. The site is protected by ASI as a monument of national importance. 

Note: We had started around 0600 hrs from Navi Mumbai and had reached Lenyadri around 1100 hrs while we also took short stops at Malshej ghat and Karanjale lake. We had breakfast at Hotel Girija (recommended), right next to the bottom of the climb/next to ticket counter (ticket - Rs.25 per person for Indian residents, and yes, you have to buy the ticket, this being an ASI protected place). Just beware of the monkeys, there're many.

Lenyadri to Ozar ~ 22 km

Vighnahar Temple at Ozar

Situated on the banks of Kukadi River, temple set up is fortress like being enclosed by high stone walls from all sides and the temple top is made of gold. Here, the idol is east facing and has its trunk towards left. 

The temple is believed to be more than 300 years old and was built by Peshwa leader, Chimaji Appa to celebrate their victory over Portuguese invaders. As per legend, the name Vighnahar comes from the name of demon Vighnasur who prayed to Lord Ganesh after the defeat that Ganesh ji be worshipped after his name at this spot. Here the lord is joined by his consorts Riddhi and Siddhi. 

Ozar to Ranjangaon ~ 85 km

Mahaganpati Temple at Ranjangaon

Located in the heart of the town, Ranjangaon, Mahaganpati temple has a grand fort like entrance. Even the temple complex is big with bhakt niwas and canteen, inside the complex itself.

As per legend, when Shiv ji was not able to defeat demon Tripurasura, he worshipped Ganesh right here, and as soon as Ganesh lend his hand to Shiv ji, he was able to defeat Tripurasura. It is right there, Shiv ji built a temple for his son, presently where the grand temple stands still.

Seated on a lotus, Mahaganpati is also believed to be the strongest form of Lord Ganesh. The temple is constructed in such a way that the sunrays fall directly on the murti just like Girijatmaj temple (Lenyadri).

It was already evening when we left from Ranjangaon, the sun was setting, sky was clear and thus the colours in the sky appeared so striking and unadulterated, all the way till the night took over. 

But night had another surprise. Thanks to the clear sky, I spotted so many stars; Mars, Venus and Jupiter among planets, some constellations and the ๐ŸŒ too. It was an amazing feeling. City life has taken away that feeling from me, so it felt pretty good. 

Ranjangaon to Siddhatek ~ 90 km

Siddhivinayak Temple at Siddhatek 

Situated on a hillock, the temple is believed to be the place of enlightenment for the two saints, Morya Gosavi and Shri Narayan Maharaj. It is also believed that by gaining the favour from Ganesh ji, Lord Vishnu defeated demons, Madhu and Kaitabh here.

Facing north, the inner sanctum was built under the direction of Ahilyabai Holkar. The idol here is distinct from the other 7 for its trunk is in the right direction. The temple is situated next to Bhima river.

Siddhatek to Moregaon ~ 65 km

It was pretty late when we reached Moreshwar, so we directly checked in a local guest house aka Bhakta Niwas while we had dinner in a near by restaurant. Please be noted that since all eight Ganpati temples (Ashtvinayak) are situated in villages, it is best not to expect any luxury from accommodation perspective. The rooms you get will be very basic. The only luxury you get here is the surrounding, nature, good air, food and water. If you want, you can take a detour to Phaltan or Pune and modify your itinerary accordingly. You will find ample stay options in Pune while I recommend Jackson Inns in Phaltan, you can add one more day to your itinerary and explore Pune/Phaltan, if you like. We wanted to complete our yatra in two days and did not want any detour so we opted to stay in Morgaon. 

Moreshwar aka Mayureshwar temple at Moregaon

Built from black-stone, this temple is guarded on all sides by huge fortress like walls, and has four minarets, which were constructed to give an illusion to the temple to look like mosque which was to avoid intrusion and attack from the Mughals. And now this fusion architectural aspect makes Moreshwar distinct from the other 7 temples of Ashtvinayak. 

A huge Nandi statue is sitting outside the temple gate as if guarding the temple. And this is another unique thing about this temple, as Nandi is normally seen sitting in front of only Shiv ji temples.  As the story goes, the cart in which Nandi was being carried to be taken to one Shiv ji temple, broke and Nandi remained here, with the son of Shiv ji. 

It is belied that this is the place where Ganesh ji had killed the demon Sindhu. Here the murti is shown riding a peacock is in the form of Mayureshwar (Mayur means peacock).

As per belief the original murti (smaller than the present murti), made of atoms of sand, iron, and diamonds, enclosed in copper sheet was being placed at the spot which is now behind the present murti and was supposedly be placed there by the Pandavs.

Moregaon village too derive its name from mor (peacock) as the village housed a lot of peacocks once upon a time. The village itself is in the shape of a peacock. 

Note: We started our morning pretty early and saw the sun rising from the temple itself. It was serene. There is also an ancient Shiv (Kamaleshwar) and Vitthal-Rukmini temples in the vicinity. After darshan we had local breakfast at Shree dining and restaurant. (There's a bhakt niwas above this restaurant too).

Moregaon to Khandoba temple, Jejuri ~ 20 km

Before visiting Chintamani temple in Theur, we stopped at Khandoba temple in Jejuri. Khandoba aka Martanda Bhairava, Malhari or Malhar is a manifestation of Shiva and is worshipped mainly in the Deccan plateau of India.

Khandoba temple of Jejuri is quite famous among locals and also for its temple set up, structure, location and that it is always under the influence of turmeric. You can read more about it here: Jejuri Khandoba temple: A beautiful hue of yellow.

Jejuri to Theur ~ 45 km

Chintamani Temple at Theur 

Situated beside the Kadambteertha lake, the temple entrance is North facing. Believed to have been built around 100 years ago, the Ganesh idol here faces east and has its trunk towards left, and carbuncle and diamonds as its eyes. As per legend, the name Chintamani comes from the jewel Chintamani which Ganesh got back for sage Kapila from the greedy Guna, right at this spot where the temple is. However, sage Kapila put the jewel in Ganesh's neck. Since this episode happened under the Kadamb tree, in olden times Theur was known as Kadamba nagar. 

The village of Theur also sits at the confluence of Mula, Mutha & Bhima, the three major regional rivers of Maharashtra.

Theur to Mahad ~ 110 km

Varadavinayak Temple at Mahad 

The temple was built in 1725, and the idol of the temple is swayambu (self origin) which was found in a lake in 1690. The idol here faces east while the trunk is towards left. It is also the only Ashtvinayak where a person can enter and worship lord Ganesh in the inner sanctum of the temple. It is also believed that an oil lamp has been burning here since 1892. 

The temple complex is big, with few small temples inside and outside the main courtyard. There's also pond with good sitting area behind the temple.

Mahad to Pali ~ 40 km

Ballaleshwar Temple at Pali 

The only Ganesh temple being known by its devotee's name Ballal, is situated between 
fort Sarasgad and the river Amba and is in the shape of 'เคถ्เคฐी'. The idol has trunk towards left and diamonds embedded in place of the eyes and the navel.  Also, unlike other Ganpati temples, instead if modak, besan laddoo is offered to the God.

Pali to Navi Mumbai ~ 80 km

Our pilgrimage tour was complete by the second day night. Packing some dinner we headed towards our home, satisfied with good darshan and wholesome, peaceful and fulfilling spiritual trip. 


While taking this road trip don't forget to include Malshej Ghat, Karanjale lake and Khandoba temple of Jejuri in your plan. Also, if you can extend your trip by a day, I suggest visiting Phaltan and staying at Jackson Inn. Here is a link on what to see and where to stay while in Phaltan - An offbeat trail to Phaltan.

Do carry snacks, water and portable power bank (as you will find many photography opportunities thr whole way). The countryside won't cease to amaze you. Also be prepared for the simple yet good quality food (though a little spicy and oily) and stay considering the temple locations.

Photography in the inner sanctum of all Ashtvinayak is prohibited. ๐Ÿšซ 

Have a great trip you guys!!


  1. Wow! You did such an amazing trip. I love the pictures especially Maslej Ghat and the Pali temple interiors. It looks so pretty. Glad to see you back and an amazing write up. Looking forward to more of you and your suitcase ๐Ÿ˜‡

  2. beautifully written with wonderful photos...keep it up

  3. So well written, great pictures

  4. Awesome pictures and thanks for a detailed write up!


Post a Comment