Among the ‘ashtavinayakas’ (8 Ganeshas) of Maharashtra, references of Lenyadri can be found in the ‘Ganesh Purana’ as a Jeernapur or Lekhanparvat. These are Buddhists caves carved out in the hills near Junnar. In one of these caves is an image Girijatmaj Ganesh which is very unique among all the ashtavinayakas since it has been carved out of the cave wall and can be seen from the rear only.
According to a legend from the Puranas, Parvati, daughter of Himavana, desired Vinayaka to be her son. To fulfill this wish she rendered penance in the cave of Lenyadri for 12 years. During this time she created an image of Ganesh from clay and started worshipping it. Lord Ganesh was pleased and stood in front of Parvati in the form of a small child. The child had six hands, three eyes and a beautiful body. Further, this child, called Girijatmaj Ganesh, performed penance for a furthermore 12 years and it is said that in his childhood he defeated many demons and protected the ‘rishis’ from trouble. He also tamed Shesh, Yama and Indra at Lenyadri and stayed here for another 15 years before vanishing from the cave.
To visit Lenyadri, located about 8 kilometers from Junnar, you have to climb 283 steps carved out of stone. The shrine here is nothing but a rock-cut cave at the entrance of which are eight pillars with carvings of elephants and lions. Next to these pillars is a big hall. In the south-facing cave there are 18 niches carved on the right side of the sanctum. Here, there is no separate image of Ganesh but a rock-cut image on one wall which is adorned with ‘sindoor’. Devotees can only see the back of Ganesh. Assuming that the face can be seen from the other side of the hill, there are some who have tried to traverse the hill. However, this is dangerous, especially because of the many honeycombs on the hill.
There are two small water cisterns near the temple cave. Descending a few steps on the western side will bring you to a ‘stupa’, known as the mace of Bhima, the hero from the legend of ‘Mahabharata’. On the top of this hill is a small and tiny shrine of Shiva, called Hatakeshwar, which is also a favourite with trekkers. The rituals at Lenyadri are performed by the Chinchwad Trust and a festival is celebrated on the 4th day of the Hindu months Bhadrapad and Magh. These include religious rituals like ‘sahastravartan’, ‘kirtan’ and ‘mahapooja’.
Things to Do
This is the birthplace of the Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and is just 8 kilometers from Lenyadri. You will find here an impressive statue of child Shivaji with his mother Jijabai. The temple of Shivai Devi, the goddess the fort, can be seen en route. While climbing the fort one has to cross seven doorways. There is also another route called the ‘Sakhalichi Vaat’. You will also come across some ancient rock-cut caves while climbing up the fort.
This is a part of an ancient trade route that begins from Pratishthan (Paithan) and goes to Shurparaka (Nalasopara). It has a huge rock-cut cave carved out by the Satavahana queen Naganika. There is an inscription in the Brahmi script on the three walls of this cave which enumerates the different sacrifices (yajnyas)’ performed by the queen and the list of donations given at that time. Naneghat is a trekkers’ paradise and also worth a visit are the forts of Jeevdhan, Chavand and Hadsar in its vicinity. A village called Poor, 15 kilometers from Naneghat, has a temple called as Kukadeshvar which is known for its sculptures carved out in stone.
The place is known for having the world’s largest giant meter wave radio telescope (GMRT). Located about 20 kilometers from Lenyadri, the telescope has 30 antennas, each with a diameter of 45 meters.
Ozar, another Ganesha from the Ashtavinayak is just 10 kms away from Lenyadri. Also in the vicinity is the picturesque Malshej Ghat and the fort of Narayangad
How to reach:
The nearest airport is at Pune
The nearest railway station is Pune.
There are ample buses available for Junnar from Pune and Mumbai. Lenyadri is just 8 kms. From Junnar and the state transport buses as well as private vehicles are available in ample numbers.
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