Children Maharashtra depicts the spiritual consciousness of the people of the land and portrays its rich tradition of temple architecture. It has many religious sites and pilgrimage places for different faiths. Infact Nashik is the holy city for Hindus. Kumbh Mela is organised here every three years and Maha Kumbh Mela every twelve years. Following are some of the famous temples of Maharashtra.
Ambadevi Temple is situated at the heart of the city of Amaravati, which is 155 km from Nagpur. The presiding deity is Amba Devi (Goddess of Shakti). According to legends, it is believed that Sri Krishna married Rukmini after abducting her when she came to pray at the Amba Devi temple. The Goddess Amba is popular amongst the devotees from Vidarbha.
Ambarnath Temple is on the Mumbai-Pune railway line at Akoli. Ambarnath Temple is said to be the only temple of its kind in India. The temple, which dates back to 1060 AD compared in the fascinating and delicate complication of design to the famous Dilawara Temples of Mount Abu. One can hardly or rarely come across a temple, which can be compared even remotely with the Ambarnath temple. It is believed that King Mahamandaleshwar built the temple in the memory of his predecessor.
Anwa Temple is located 10 km away from Golegaon near Aurangabad. Presiding deity is Lord Shiva, and the temple dates back to 12th century. The temple has a sanctuary and a mandap (open hall) with decorated pillars. The temple has images of Vishnu, Ganesha and other divinities.
Ayappa Temple The original name of this temple is Mini Sabarimala Shree Ayyappa Temple. It is situated atop a hillock surrounded by hills and valleys within the area of NCH Colony. A tiny stream originating from the vicinity adds the sanctity and beauty to the temple environment.
Ayappa Temple is a unique temple resembling the Holy Shrine of Shree Dharma Shastha (Ayyappa) at Sabarimala, Kerala, crowning the Western Ghats.
Bahubali Hill Temples are located 27 km south of Kolhapur, Maharashtra on the Bahubali Hills. Huge devotees thronged the temple to worship the 28-feet tall marble statue of Bahubali and visit the temples of the 24 Tirthankaras or saints. These hills are popularly known as ‘Kumbhojgiri’.
Balaji Temple at Nerul, Mumbai is the exact replica of Balaji Temple at Tirupati. This temple is built on the lines of Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupati and has been constructed according to the Shilpashastras. Others temples – Vidya Ganapati Temple, Shri Padmavati Devi Temple, Hanumana Temple, Vishvakasena Temple, Ramanuja Temple, and Lakshmi Nrisimha Temple surround the main temple.
Palicha Shree Ballaleshwar Vinayak Temple at Pali, which is located 110 km away from Pune. The temple, which was built by Nana Phadnis in 1770, was named after Ballal of Pali. The presiding deity is Lord Ballaleshwar (Ganapati). Ganapati is known as Ballaleshwar here. The Ganesh idol in the temple is 3 ft tall. His consorts Siddhi and Riddhi flank Ganesha’s image. There is also another Ganesh Temple, known as Dhundi Vinayak just behind the Temple.
Chakreshwar Temple is located at Titte, near Kolhapur. Lord Chakreswar is worshipped in the temple. The temple is towards the south of Kolhapur. Visiting Chakreshwar Temple is regarded as a part of pilgrimage while visiting the Mahalakshmi temple at Kolhapur.
Chinchwad Ganesh Temple is about 15 km away from Pune. It is an old town, and one can find its references in Shivaji’s and Peshwa’s periods. The Ganesh Temple in Chinchwad is very famous place, and a Yatra takes place in the month of ‘Shravan’.
Dattatreya Temple is located at Ganganapur. The presiding deity is Dattatreya, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu Dattatreya. There is a very small opening in the wall in the form a silver-plate framework, which allows pilgrims to have a glimpse of the image. Some feet away is a door in the dividing curtain, where inside the sanctuary are the Padukas. It is these Padukas that are the object of worship at this place.
Kailash Temple , construction of the Kailash Temple was started in the mid 8th century under the direction of King Krishna I (757-775) of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. This temple is world’s largest monolithic structure carved from one piece of rock and the most extensive rock-cut projects ever undertaken.
Kailash Temple is situated near the village of Ellora, 30 km from Aurangabad. The temple is considered as one of the most astonishing buildings in the history of architecture. This is one of the largest 34 excavations at Ellora, which took almost a century. Kailash Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The idol measures 109 feet wide by 164 feet long. Kailash Temple has number of images showing scenes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
Mumbadevi Temple is in Bhuleshwar.This temple is dedicated to city’s patron Goddess Mumbadevi, Mumbai’s resident deity. Legends say the structure of the temple is about six centuries old and it is believed be the work of Mumbaraka, a sadistic giant who frequently plundered the city at the time. The image of the Goddess Mumbadevi is clad with a robe of silver crown, a nose ring and a golden necklace. To the left is a stone figure of Annapurna seated on a peacock. In front of the shrine is a tiger, the carrier of the Goddess. The Goddess personifies Mother Earth.
Nageshwar Temple is one of the oldest temples of Pune. It has been there since the times of Sant Jnaneshwar and Tukaram. It is a general belief that there was once a reservoir near the temple. The water of this reservoir can cure leprosy.
Siddhivinayak Temple is in Mumbai. Siddhivinayak Lord Ganesh is worshipped in the temple. The temple dates back to 18th Century. Vinayak is considered to be one of the Ashta Vinayak shrines of Maharashtra, celebrating eight instances of legends related to Ganesha. The temple has a Kalash, which is a pointed dome of 12 feet high Gabhara (sanctum sanctorum) weighing 1,500 kg and plated in gold. So, it facilitates the ‘Darshan’ of Sri Siddhivinayak from either the area surrounding the Gabhara or the stage (Sabha Mandap) constructed to conduct pujas and festivities. The idol of Ganapati is also called Chaturbhuj as it has four arms. A lotus is held in the upper right hand symbolises auspicious piety and a small axe in the upper left, a holy rosary of beads (japmala) are held in the lower right and a bowl full of modaks (a delicacy which is a perennial favorite with Sri Siddhivinayak) in the lower left.
Ganapati Temple situated on banks of river Krishna at Sangli is most beautiful temple in south Maharashtra. It is a tutelar deity of Sangli. Thorle (elder) Chintamanrao Patwardhan consecrated the idol in 1843 .The temple is very famous for its artistic construction.
Pandharpur is located in a place, which is 65 km away from Sholapur on the banks of river Bhimarathi. This place is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Maharashtra. Pandharpur preserves Lord Vithoba’s image in a grand temple. Vithoba is a form of Sri Krishna. The worship of Vishnu – Vitthala at Pandharpur is derived mainly from the Puranas and has been augmented by the contribution of the great Vaishnava saints of Maharashtra from the 13th to 17th centuries (Namdev, Jnaneshwar, Eknath, Tukaram).
Shirdi, a small village in Kopargam Taluk, in Ahmadnagar, is regarded to be an important pilgrimage place in India as sage Sai Baba lived here till his death..
(With inputs from Maharashtra Tourism)