For all those who believe in the power of Lord Ganesh, regular visits to the Siddhivinayaka Mahaganapati Temple at Titwala is always high on the ‘faith’ list. The place is steeped in ancient legend and the temple is also frequented by those who believe that separated married couples can be united and the marriages of desired people can be arranged easily if the Ganesha image installed in the temple is worshipped with devotion.
Visited by thousands of devotees, particularly on Angarika Chaturthi – a Tuesday that follows on the fourth day of the lunar bright fortnight – the Siddhivinayaka Mahaganapati Temple at Titwala also witnesses a huge congregation during the occasions of Ganesh Chaturthi and Ganesh Jayanti. Another reason for its religious popularity is that Titwala is believed to be the putative site of the hermitage of sage Kanva, the foster parent of Shakuntala who was born here. Titwala is also an easy place to go to with its proximity to Mumbai. In fact, the domestic and international airports of Mumbai are just about 75 kilometers away.
There is a fascinating legend attached to this place. The village was part of the Dandakaranya forest where the Katkari tribe lived. Sage Kanva, who resided here, had adopted Shakuntala, who was abandoned immediately after her birth by her parents. King Dushyanta of Gandhara Kingdom while on a battle campaign was passing through the forests when he and Shakuntala fell in love with each other and got married according to the Gandharva rite in the hermitage. Since Dushyanta had to leave Shakuntala after some time due to unrest in his capital city, he gave Shakuntala a royal signet as a sign of their love, promising her that he would return for her.
Once, while Shakuntala was in the hermitage in pensive mood thinking about her husband Dushyanta, she did not pay the desired reverential attention to sage Durvasa who was visiting the place. Known for his short temper, he felt offended by this slight and cursed Shakuntala saying that the person she was dreaming of would forget about her altogether. Later, however, Durvasa toned down his curse to mean that the person who had forgotten Shakuntala would remember everything again if she showed him a personal token that had been given to her.
It is said that sage Kanva, realising the gravity of the issue faced by Shakuntala, directed her to build a shrine in honour of Lord Ganesha as Siddhivinayaka. He assured her that by her sincere prayers Siddhivinayaka would bless her and she would once again join her husband Dushyanta. This eventually came true after considerable effort and lapse of time and by which time Shakuntala who had conceived after marrying Dushyanta, also gave birth to a son who came to be known as Bharata.
The Siddhivinayaka Mahaganapati Temple built by Shakuntala with the stated legendary background was submerged under a tank. During the rule of Peshwa Madhavrao I, to resolve the drought situation in the town, the tank was de-silted to provide drinking water to the town. It was during the de-silting operations that the temple was found buried. The image of Ganesha was found by Ramchandra Mehendale. Soon thereafter, the renovation of the temple was undertaken and a stone temple was built. Peshwa Madhavrao I consecrated the ancient Ganesha image in this new temple, after the conquest of Vasai Fort. Initially, the temple was very small with a wooden ‘sabha mandap’, which was in a run-down condition. Since the temple had also degenerated over time, in 1965–66 renovation work was initiated again and a new temple was constructed at the same location.
Things to Do
There is a pond next to the temple complex which is surrounded by a garden. Peddle boats of two- and four-seater capacity are available here between 4 pm to 7 pm for recreation.
Visit Other Temples
There is another famous temple dedicated to Vithoba and his consort Rukmini in Titwala that is worth visiting. So also is the exquisitely carved Vithoba Temple at Shahad. Also called the Birla Mandir, it is 10 kilometers away from Titwala and accessible by train and road.
How to reach:
The nearest airport is at Mumbai.
Titwala is a suburban railway station on central railway’s Mumbai-Kasara line.
Drive through Kalyan-Shahpur-Titwala. State transport buses ply from Thane and Kalyan.
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