CREDOS: Ganesh the pilot — IV

J J Gordon

Indeed, one night, not long thereafter, my wife Monica muttered in her sleep, “Chintamani is the pilot.” When she awoke I asked her what she had been dreaming.

She couldn’t remember, but it seemed so appropriate that this beautiful representation of Sri Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and worries, should be the pilot of one’s destiny. “Chintamani is the pilot” became the catch-phrase of our journey thereafter.

Following a night in Pune, our first stop the next day was the Sri Mahaganapati Temple in Ranjangaon, the eighth temple. Like most of the temples on the Ashtavinayaka pilgrimage, the present external structure of this temple dates from the heyday of the Peshwa rulers in the late 18th century — although stone pillars of the older temple, which are visible in the compound, show that there was a place of worship here at least as early as the 9th or 10th centuries.

One of the unifying characteristics of all the Ashtavinayaka temples is the fact that no one has a clue how long they’ve been there.

The entrance to this shrine is especially large and the swayambhu murti is most

attractive, although local legend maintains that the real icon, consisting of ten trunks and twenty hands, was moved to the cellar at some time in the past due to fear of Muslim invasion.

Sri Vighneshwar Temple at Ozar, the seventh, is 85 km north of Pune. The present temple dates from 1785, and was renovated in 1967.

The Deity has emeralds embedded in its eyes and diamonds on its forehead

and navel.

This is the only Ashtavinayaka temple to possess a golden dome and pinnacle. —