(Last Updated on : 05/04/2013)
Temples of Maharashtra depict the spiritual consciousness of the people of the land and it also portrays its rich tradition of temple architecture. The two most prominent rock cut temples of the ancient era of India are in this state. Those are the Kailasanatha Temple at Ellora and the Elephanta cave
temple which is dedicated to the Lord Shiva
. Apart from the Hindu temples, there are several other Jain and Buddhist temples in Maharashtra. This state of India possesses a number of renowned places of pilgrimage. There are eight Ashta Vinayak shrines, three of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines in India, two of the Shakti Peethas and at Pandharpur the honoured Vitthala shrine.
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi
is observed with lots of pomp and glory in Maharashtra. The temples in Maharashtra dedicated to the Lord Ganesha
are visited by devotees in large numbers in the auspicious day. In Mumbai, the Siddhivinayak temple
pulls a large number of devotees throughout the year. There are eight temples devoted to the Lord Ganesha in the state of Maharashtra
which are linked with a number of episodes from several legends including the puranas. The deities of these temples are together known as the Ashta Vinayak.
Among the major Maharashtra temples, the Ballaleshwar Vinayka temple is the most notable. This temple is situated at a distance of 10 kilometers from the city of Pune. This temple is one of the eight Astha Vinayak temples of Maharashtra which is dedicated to the lord Ganesh. The Lord Ganesh or Ganapati is known as Ballaleshwar in the Ballaleshwar Vinayka temple. The name of this temple came from one of the devotees of the Lord. The name of the devotee was Ballal of Pali. The temple was founded in the year 1770 by Nana Phadnis. As per legends, a trader in the name of Kalyan Shreshthi lived in the Sindhu Land during the rule of the Krut. The son of Kalyan Shreshthi was Ballal who was the devotee of Lord Ganesha. A number of Ballal`s friends also became the devotee of the Lord. As a result, the parents of Ballal`s friends blamed Ballal of ruining their children. Kalyan got severely angered and smashed everything that was displayed for the puja of Lord Ganesha. He bound his son with a tree and beat and then threw his son out of the house. Ballal summoned Ganapati after he regained his consciousness. Ganapati asked Ballal to stay in the place and he also took the name of Ballal and came to be known as Ballal Vinayak in the honour of his devotee, Ballal.
Previously, the deity of Ballal Vinayak was positioned inside a wooden temple. The wooden temple of Ballaleshwar Vinayka faces towards the east and it was so constructed that the rays of Sun falls on the idol of Ballaleshwar Vinayka from July till December. The look of the temple is that of a huge fort having tough protecting walls. The shrine and the hall of the temple present a very attractive picture. The idol of Lord Ganesha faces towards the east inside the temple. The height of the idol is 3 ft. and the trunk is directed towards the left. Lord Ganesha`s image is flanked by his wives Riddhi and Siddhi. The eyes of the lord are adorned with diamonds. Immediately behind the Ballal Vinayak temple, there is another temple dedicated to the Lord Ganesha, called Dhundi Vinayak temple.
The Mahalaxmi temple situated close to Kolhapur
is one of the most famous centers of religious importance in Maharashtra. For several years, the members of a number of royal families have prayed for the blessings of goddess Amba Bai or Mahalaxmi. The Mahalaxmi temple attracts huge devotees from all corners of the country. The name of Goddess Mahalaxmi is mentioned in various puranas.
Nageshwar temple is one of the oldest temples of Pune
which is there in the city from the time of Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar. The main shrine of the Nageshwar temple was constructed with a stone roof which is a distinctive Yadava architectural design. Several renovations and additions have been made the temple over the years. It is assumed that a reservoir was previously situated close to the Nageshwar temple and the water of that reservoir used to cure the disease of leprosy. There is another temple in Maharashtra located alongside the Krishna River at Sangli. The name of this temple is the Ganapati temple which is one of the most elegantly designed temple of the southern parts of Maharashtra. This temple is made out of black stone which was carried from the Jyotiba hills. It has a huge premise. There is a very beautiful hall, a platform and a Nagarkhana. The sanctum door is made of several colours of natural wood.
The Mahalaxmi temple at Mumbai
, situated in the northern foot of the Malabar Hill, is one of the most primitive Hindu places of worship in Maharashtra. The temple is devoted to the Goddesses Mahasaraswati, Mahakali and Mahalakshmi. During the 1890s, when a causeway was under construction by an engineer of Britain, the project was frequently troubled by the sea. One night, a labourer dreamt Goddess Lakshmi
instructing him to unearth an idol from the site where the construction of the causeway was under process, and to build a shrine. Thus, the idol was unearthed and the temple was constructed.
Apart from various Hindu temples in Maharashtra, there are several Jain and Buddhist temples in this state of India. One of the most famous Jain temple sin Maharashtra is the Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Jain Temple. This is one of the most beautiful Jain temples in Mumbai. Even if the Jains are known for their deep involvement in business, still they donate heavily for the foundation and maintenance of their holy places. The Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Jain temple is elegantly designed decorated with two elephants made of stone at the entrance. The downstairs area of this temple possesses a list of saints and deities, which also include Lord Ganesh`s image. This reminds us of the connection between Hinduism
. The Nipponzan Myohoji temple in Mumbai is the temple dedicated to the Buddhist faith. This is also the oldest Buddhist temple in the capital city of Maharashtra. This Buddhist temple is founded in the year 1956. It covers an area of 8,840 and possesses a very calm and peaceful environment. The main hall of this temple where the devotees gather to offer prayer possesses two huge Japanese or Thomas drums made of wood. At the prayer time the devotees chant na-mu-myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo to the reverberating drum beats. The prayer hall is supported by 10 pillars made of stone. Vegetable paintings cover the four walls of the hall. There is also a sequence on the life of Lord Buddha
delicately Buddha`s life and times, finely executed with skillful strokes. In the Nipponzan Myohoji temple, there is a marble statue of the Lord Buddha which is 6.5 ft. in height in a sitting position inside a small room.
Maharashtra is one of the India states which possess a plethora of temples. Due to their historical and religious significance the Maharashtra temples are the major attractions and a large number of tourists and devotees visit the temples through out the year. There are numerous temples in Maharashtra which bring in a huge crowd and the prominent among them are; Amba Temple at Amravati in Maharashtra, Ballal Vinayak Temple at Pali near Kolaba in Maharashtra, Bhavani Temple at Tuljapur near Sholapur in Maharashtra, Chakreshwar Temple at Titte near Kolhapur in Maharashtra, Chintamani Ganesh Temple at Theur near Pune in Maharashtra, Ellora Caves at Elllora near Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Ghat Shila Temple at Tuljapur in Maharashtra, Great Chaitya Cave at Kanheri Caves near Mumbai, Kailash Temple at Ellora Caves
near Aurangabad, Kalaheshwar Temple at Kale near Kolhapur in Maharashtra, Karla Cave Temple at Karla near Lonavla, Moreshwar Ganesh Temple at Morgaon near Pune
, Panchganga Temple at Mahabaleshwar near Pune, Pandu Lena Budhist Cave Temples at Pandu Lena near Nasik, Parvati Temple at Pune, Tryambakeshwar Temple near Nasik, Elephanta Caves
near Mumbai in Maharashtra, Jain Temple at Mumbai, Kala Rama Temple at Nasik in Maharashtra, etc.