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Ranjangaon Mahaganapati

A small village located about fifty kilometres away from Pune, Ranjangaon lies on the way from Pune to Ahmednagar in Maharashtra. Easily accessible by road, this town is a major industrial area that houses important manufacturing companies like LG, Bombay Dyeing, Whirlpool and others.

Ranjangaon is also famous for the Mahaganapati temple. The Mahaganapati temple, one of the eight Ganesha temples that comprise the Ashtavinyaka shrines, celebrates one of the numerous legends surrounding the figure of the Indian god Lord Ganesha.

The Legend of Mahaganapati

According to Hindu mythology, Tripurasur was born as a young boy to Sage Gritsamad from his sneeze. Sage Gritsamad raised this boy as his own son and taught him the Ganesha mantra. After many years of meditation upon this mantra, the boy managed to appease Lord Ganesha and obtain a boon from him. Lord Ganesh gave him three puras of iron, silver and gold. It is from these puras that he got the name Tripurasur. Ganesha also blessed Tripurasur as the most powerful, defeatable only by Lord Shiva. Once he was destroyed by Lord Shiva, he would attain his mukti (salvation), he was told.

Having received a boon so great, Tripurasur became haughty and brought on destruction to the whole world. He conquered Earth and the Nether world, then sought to conquer heaven as well. With his aggression, he defeated Indra, Lord Bramha and Vishnu took refuge in a lotus and the Ksheersagar respectively. Soon enough, he had taken over Shiva’s abode, the Kailashparvat and crowned himself the king of the three worlds. Defeated and scared, the gods turned to Lord Ganesh for help.

Lord Ganesh proceeded to rescue the gods from their predicament. He visited Tripurasur disguised as a Brahmin and offered to make three flying planes for him, in exchange for the statue of Chintamani. This statue, kept in the Kailash Mountain, belonged to Lord Shiva. Shiva refused to give the statue to Tripurasur’s messenger and Tripurasur went to get the statue himself. A fierce battle ensued between the two opponents, Tripurasur defeated Shiva.

Having retreated to Girikandar, Shiva realised that he had been unable to destroy his opponent because he had not paid his respects to Ganesh first. He began to recite the Shadaaksharmantra to invoke Lord Ganesha, who appeared and eventually revealed to Shiva how Tripurasur could be killed. Lord Shiva was asked to recite the Sahastranam and direct the arrow at the three puras of Tripurasur. Shiva followed the directions given to him by lord Ganesh and proceeded to vanquish Tripurasur. After this incident, Lord Ganesh came to be known as Tripurari, the destroyer of Tripur.

The Ranjangaon Mahaganapati Temple

The Ranjangaon Mahaganapati temple is lies at the very heart of the industrial town Ranjangaon. As per historians, the temple was built during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra, by Sardar Kine. The sanctum sanctorum or what is traditionally known as the garbhagriha of the temple was built by Peshwa Madhavrao.

The Mahaganapati temple faces the east and has a massive and imposing main gate. This gate is guarded by the two statues of Vijay and Jay, the two demigods who are known to guard the gates of Vishnu’s abode as per the Hindu mythology. A unique feature of the architecture of the temple is that the rays of the sun directly fall on the statue of the deity, Lord Ganesh during Dakshinayan, the apparent movement of the sun towards the south as the year progresses.

The deity in Ranjangaon Mahaganapati temple is a swayambhu. This means that the statue of Lord Ganesh is “self manifested” or created of its own accord. Due to various natural phenomena, stones or in some cases ice forms itself into the shape of a recognisable deity without any artificial assistance. According to the Hindu belief, these are regarded as “swayambhu” or “self sprung” and are considered extremely auspicious. Due to this belief, the deity at the Ranjangaon temple is believed to be the most powerful representation of all the eight deities of the Ashtavinayak shrines.

The deity is seated inside the sanctum sanctorum and is flanked on the two sides by Riddhi and Sidhhi, the two traditional consorts of Ganesha. The trunk of the deity turns towards the left side, signifying a calm and benevolent god. According to popular belief, the original statue of Ganesh made for this temple is actually hidden away in a chest of treasures and this statue depicts Lord Ganesh as having twenty arms and ten trunks.

Many old pillars can be seen within the temple compound. These old pillars are proof  of the fact that the temple was in fact built in the 9th or the 10th century and repaired at a later date, when the old pillars was used to reconstruct the building.

How to Reach Ranjangaon

Ranjangaon is accessible on the Pune-Nagpur highway. The distance from Pune is about 50 km and can easily be covered by cars as well as state transport busses that ply regularly between the two cities.

Best Time for Visit

The best time to visit Ranjangaon is during the Hindu month of Bhadrapada which corresponds to a period starting roughly around the 23rd of August and ending on the 22nd of September. This is the time for the annual temple festival. During the first six days of the waxing period of the month, a grand festival is held to celebrate Lord Ganesh in all his glory. A “mahaprasad” or huge offering is made to the lord on the fifth day of this festival and daily pujas are held. Other festivities include wrestling matches that are held between enthusiasts.

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