Lenyadri Temple (Ashtavinayak)


Among the ‘Ashtavinayakas’ (8 Ganeshas) of Maharashtra, references of Lenyadri can be found in ancient Hindu scriptures. Lenyadri group of caves are Buddhists caves carved out in the hills in Junnar near Pune. In one of these caves is an image of Girijatmaj Ganesh which is very unique among all the Ashtavinayakas since it has been carved on the cave wall and can only be seen from the rear. To visit Lenyadri, located about 8 km from Junnar, one has to climb 283 steps carved out of stone. The shrine here is 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’ (red vermilion). Devotees can only see the back of Ganesha. 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 bee hives on the hill. Festivals at Lenyadri are celebrated on the 4th day of the Hindu months Bhadrapad (Aug/Sept) and Magh (Jan/Feb).