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Ozar (Ashtavinayak) (Pune)

Most places have interesting legends associated with them. One such is Ozar, located on the banks of river Kukadi in Junnar taluka of Pune district. An ‘ashtavinayaka’ (8 Ganeshas), it is said that Lord Ganesh had made Ozar his permanent abode after defeating a demon called Vighnasur. When the demon asked to be forgiven for his deeds, Ganesha became pleased and stayed at Ozar, taking on the name of the demon. 

About 190 kilometers from Mumbai and just 9 kilometers from the town of Narayangaon on the Pune Nashik highway, Ozar’s importance has been highlighted through the narratives of the Mudgal and Skanda ‘puranas’ which tell the story of a ruler called Abhinandan. It is said that the king performed a sacrifice but did not invite Indra as was the custom. Feeling slighted, Indra created the demon Kaal, also known as Vighnasur, and provided him with all his power along with granting him the boon of immortality. Kaal was sent to destroy the ‘yadnyas’ of Abhinandan. The strong demon then not only destroyed the yadnyas but also all the ‘vaidik’ rituals as were practised at that time.

Scared, the people of the land prayed to Lord Ganesh to save them from the cruelty of the demon. Thus, Ganesha took the form of the son of Parashar Rishi and pitched a battle against the demon, who he eventually defeated. Surrendering to the power of Ganesha, Vighnasur assured the god that he would never disrupt any sacred ceremony and also requested that Ganesha associate his name with that of the demon. And that is how Ganesha stayed at Ozar with the name Vihgnasur or Vighnhar.

The temple at Ozar is huge with a spacious courtyard around it made out of stone. There is a fortification wall and a pathway. Besides the entrance are two large-sized ‘dwarapalas’ in stone and inside are galleries and two ‘deepmalas’ in the courtyard. The huge central hall has entrances from north and south. There is an image of Dhundiraj Ganesh inside the hall alongside which is another hall with a ceiling height of 10 feet. A mouse sculpted out of stone is at the entrance of the hall. What is also interesting is the spire with intricate carvings, said to have been constructed by Chimaji Appa. In the main sanctum is the seated image of Ganesha with his trunk to the left. Precious stones adorn the image with rubies for the eyes and a diamond on the forehead. Ozar celebrates Bhadrapad and Magh Chaturthi in a big way and songs written by Shri Morya Gosavi are especially rendered on such occasions, including the Tripuri Pournima.

Distance from Mumbai is 185 kms.