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Mahad (Ashtavinayak) (Raigad)

One of the ashtavinayakas (8 Ganeshas) in Maharashtra, the name of this temple is Varad Vinayak, meaning the one who blesses all the wishes. The temple is situated in a scenic place and behind the temple is a small shrine among bamboo trees that is dedicated to Shri Dattatreya. 

Located 83 kilometers from Mumbai, this holy place of Varad Vinayak is in the Khalapur taluka of Raigad district and just as every legend of Ganesha is linked with the Puranas, this one is no different. In ancient times the king of Kundinya, Bheem, was very brave and noble but sad for not having a son. According to the narration, during his wanderings in the jungle with his wife, he came upon Vishvamitra who suggested that he should perform penance to Lord Ganesh to grant him his wish for a child. Bheem is said to have undertaken severe penance at the end of which Ganesha blessed the royal couple with a son. He was named Rukmangad. When the child grew up, the king delegated all his powers to his son and followed the path of ‘vanprasthashrama’.

Once when Rukmangad was on a hunting trip, he happened to reach the ashram of Rishi Vachaknavi. The sage was then bathing in the river and his wife Mukunda fell in love with the handsome prince and asked him to fulfill her desire. Rukmangad refused to do so and the angry Mukunda cursed him. So lovesick did she become that Lord Indra finally took the form of Rukmangad and fulfilled her physical desire. She delivered a son who was named Grutsamada. When he came to know the story of his birth he felt ashamed of it and started praying to Ganesha for reprieve. Ganesha eventually offered him a boon stating that he would bear a son who would not be defeated by anyone other than Lord Shiva. Grutsamada asked Ganesha to bless the forest and make it is permanent home. He then built a temple here and installed an idol of Ganesha.

The temple at Mahad faces east. There are two huge images of elephants carved out in rock. A lake at the west is known as ‘Devache Taale’. The temple contains of a hall and the height of the ‘shikhara’ is 24 feet. An oil lamp is kept burning at all times inside the temple. There are rock-cut idols of ‘riddhi-siddhi’ in the ‘garbhgruha’. The main image of Ganesha is east-facing, seated on a rock-cut throne with his trunk turned toward the left. It is said that this image was found in a nearby pond by a devotee called Dhondu Pudkar in 1690 CE. The temple was constructed in 1725 CE by Subhedar Ramji Mahadev Bivalkar. There is a grand festival celebrated here every Sankashti Chaturthi.

Distance from Mumbai is 68 kms.