Today marks the beginning of Ganesh Chaturthi, a 10-day festival which is widely celebrated in northern and west India, especially Maharashtra. The festival, which will end on September 5, is said to be auspicious as it is believed to be the time when Lord Ganesha was born. Many families across Maharashtra bring Ganesha idols to their homes and perform Puja for 12 days before the final visarjan (immersion in water). In Mumbai only, nearly 7,610 Ganeshotsav Mandals, or pandals, have been set up across the city. Ganesh Chaturthi is also a cultural celebration that brings people out on the streets. Said to be the most beloved Hindu God and the most worshipped after the Holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, Lord Ganesha is also believed to bring prosperity and good fortune. The practice of worshipping Ganesha, the younger son of Lord Shiva, goes back to thousands of years. There are many temples across the country built in different eras and by different kingdoms. Here we have enlisted 8 ancient temples of the popular Hindu God
1) Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple:
Built by the Chola king Kulothunga Chola I in the 11th century, this popular temple is about 11 km from Chittoor town. The historic temple, also known as ‘pramanala devudu’, attracts a large number of devotees from across the country. The Lord Ganesha’s idol in the temple has three colors on its forehead, white, yellow, and red. Brahmotsavam is the main festival of this temple, celebrated every year during Ganesh Chaturthi.
2) Manakula Vinayaka Temple:
Located in Puducherry, this temple’s existence predates the French occupation (before 1666) of the island. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha has 16 names based on his various avatars. The God established here has been named as Bhuvaneshar Ganapathy, now called as Manakula Vinayagar, near the Bay of Bengal. In Tamil ‘Manal’ means sand and ‘Kulam’ means pond near the sea. Attempts were made to destroy the temple during the French occupation, however, due to strong resistance by local Hindu population, the temple was spared.
3) Madhur Mahaganapathi Temple:
Famous for its architectural beauty, this 10th-century temple is one of the most important Ganapathi temples in Kerala. Located on the banks of the Madhuvahini river in Kasaragod, it’s a part of the Kottarakkara Sree Mahaganapathy Kshethram Pilgrim Centre Complex. The pond around the temple is believed to have medicinal properties that can heal even rare illnesses. Moodappa Seva is a special festival celebrated here, in which, the statue of Lord Ganapati is covered with a mixture of sweet rice and ghee called Moodappam.
4) Ranthambore Ganesh Temple:
Most of us are aware of the famous Ranthambore park in Rajasthan which is mostly visited by nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. But not many of us know that there is a temple of ‘Trinetra Ganesh,’ the three eyed God, located atop Ranthambore’s historic 1000-year-old fort. This orange colour idol is one of the oldest in the country that sits with the rest of the godly family.
5) Rockfort Ucchi Pillayar Koil Temple:
Rock Fort is a historic fort and temple complex built on an ancient rock. Perched atop a huge rock is Ucchi Pillayar Koil Temple. It’s a 7th-century Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh in Tamil Nadu’s Trichy. According to mythological tales, this rock is the place where Lord Ganesh ran from King Vibishana, after establishing the Ranganathaswamy deity in Srirangam. While climbing the steps to reach the temple, you will witness splendid architectural work on the rocks.
6) Karpaga Vinayagar Temple:
Believed to be the oldest Ganpathi temple in India, it’s existence dates back before 5th century AD. Located in Tamil Nadu’s Sivagangai District, the six-feet idol of Lord Ganesha in this temple was carved out of stone. This temple is famous for its unique architecture and intricate design. In the cave temple, there are rock-cut images of Siva and other gods as well as several shrines (dated from 500 BC to 1284 AD). Built by the early Pandya kings, this temple attracts maximum devotees during Ganesh Chaturthi.
7) SasiveKalu Ganesha temple:
Karnataka’s Hampi is famous for its magnificent temples among which SasiveKalu Ganesha temple is a stunning example. This temple has an idol with a snake around his waist. According to mythological beliefs, one day Lord Ganesha had eaten a lot and his stomach bloated to the verge of bursting. So he tied a snake around his waist. The statues of Lord Ganesha here are believed to be the largest Ganesha statues in Karnataka.
8) Shree Vinayaka Devaru temple:
Located in the Idagunji town of Uttara Kannada district, this temple is one of the most popular religious sites in Karnataka. The temple attracts nearly a million devotees every year. Built nearly 1500 years ago, it is also famous for its intricate architecture and art work. The Ganesha idol in this temple has only two hands, instead of the multi-hand figure popular accross the country.