Moti Dungri, Rajasthan, IN

Deities: Lord Ganesha
Location: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Best time to visit: October to March
STD Code: 0141

Jaipur is quite famous for the tourists for its mind blowing location and excellent beauty. It is situated almost in the centre of the pink city. In the middle of Jaipur rises a small hill Moti Dungri meaning pearl hill, because it looks hilla drop of pearl.

An exotic palace is parched which is a replica of Scottish castle once occupied by Maharaja Madho Singh’s son. From There on remained as a private property of the ruling family. In the recent past it served as a home for Rajmata Gaytri Devi and her estranged son Jagat Singh. The mere view of this castle is exotic enough. The highlight of this place is the famous and auspicious temple of Lord Ganesh, which is frequently visited by almost whole of Jaipur and people from outside.

This ancient temple serves as a tourist attraction for the scenic view it offers. Moti Dungri Temple is significant from the religious point of view. People from far and near often come to this sacred temple to pay their homage to Lord Ganesha.It is a large, modern marble edifice. Stained glass widows depict the scenes from Hindu scriptures. Ganesh the protector of households, is above the lintel, and the fine quality of marble is evident when you enter the temple and look back at the entrance way – Ganesh can be made out through the marble, which is almost transparent. The images of Lakshmi and Narayan were carved from one piece of marble. Many of the deities of the Hindu pantheon are depicted inside the temple, and on the outside walls great historical personages and figures from all religions are shown, including Socrates, Zarathustra, Christ, Buddha, and Confucius.

Keeping in mind the secular nature of the country, the temple has three domes, which represent different approaches to religion. It is a beautiful white marble temple, which seems to glow at night. The architectural style in which the temple is built is a pleasing amalgamation of Western, Hindu and Muslim architectural traits.

Close to the Temple, there a beautiful Palace on the hill, this is known as Moti Dungri Palace. The Palace is an imitation of a Scottish Castle. In the ancient times, it was occupied by Maharaja Madho Singh’s son. Still, the enchanting Palace belongs to the royal family. Today, it makes home for Rajmata Gayatri Devi and her son, Jagat Singh. However, the palace is not open for public.

How to reach:
by Air: Jaipur Airport is located near Sanganer at a distance of 13 kms from the city of Jaipur. Many domestic airlines connect the city to all the major cities of India including Udaipur and Jodhpur as well.
by Rail: Jaipur Railway Station is a central main station of the state of Rajasthan. The vast rail track of Indian Railways connects Jaipur station with all other cities of India. There are numerous trains which run on a regular basis to and from Jaipur.
by Road: Jaipur is well connected by road to major cities in India. Excellent road network serves people to enjoy a comfortable journey to and from Jaipur. This mode of travelling is quite easy and comparatively cheap. Regular bus services from nearby cities connect Jaipur to the other cities.

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Ganapatiphule, Maharashtra, India

Deities: Lord Ganesha
Location: Ganapatipule, Maharashtra
Built in: 16th century
Best time to visit: November to February
STD Code: 0091-2357

Ganapatipule is an ideal place to forget all your worries and smile.

The sun-kissed beach and lush green of Ganapatipule inevitably draws tourists back, year after year. The added attraction is a 400-year old temple which houses the Swayambhu Ganapati.

Sparkling blue waters, endless stretches of golden or silver sand, sun beams dancing through the swaying palms, waves playing with the sand dunes, a cool breeze whispering sweet nothing in your ear. This is the land of Ganpatipule, one of Maharashtra’s almost virgin beaches.

Set along the western coast of maharastra, is a small little village called Ganapatiphulethe Ganapatiphule beach is as natural and pristine as ever. Even today, the waters are blue and the sands, white.

It is flooded by thousands of devotees and tourists every year. Thus the village got its name Ganapatipule, Ganapati the lord of the “ganas” or army and “pule” which means sand dunes, Ganapatipule is one of the “Ashta Ganapatis” (eight Ganapatis).

The vast ‘Konkan’ stretch abounds with scenic greenery There are narrow mud-roads, the earth is red and the roofed houses with clean courtyards add a quaint touch to the panorama. The local vegetation includes fruit-bearing trees like mango, betel nut, banana, jackfruit, coconut etc.
India has got its name from the Hindu deity Lord Ganesha. This lovely beach is known for the Ganapatipule temple. The temple is located on the foothills of the green-carpeted Konkan hills. Those who visit this sacred Ganapatiphule temple make sure to do a ‘pradhikshina‘ around the Ganapatipule temple.

It said that during the 16th Century AD, a villager, depressed with recurrent quarrels in his village, escaped to the Kerda jungles. On his way there, he came upon a naturally created Ganapati idol. Considering this as a good omen, he built a temple there. As the word spread, people gathered and gradually even settled there. They worshipped the idol, performed prayers and even made additions to the shrine. Hence, Ganapatipule became a famous Hindu pilgrimage site.

The local people of Ganapatipule believe that in an age when men were spiritual and miracles were a commonly visible fact, the scriptures talked of four Dwardatas (Welcoming Deities) to the subcontinent, where Ganapatipule is one of the Paschim Dwaar Devata (the Western Sentinel God).

The Temple of Ganapatipule becomes the centre of grand activity for the five days celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi when villager’s and pilgrims join actively in a procession honoring Ganapati. A taller idol is placed in an ornate palanquin and carried on the shoulders of the devotees through the village accompanied by a pujari or priest and a drummer. The idol in the sanctum is placed in a way that also makes it visible. The Swayambhu Ganapati Temple is one of the most famous pilgrimage centres.

Other attraction in Ganapatipule:
The baw PalaceMalgundJaigarh fortPawasVelneshwar

How to reach:
by Air: Nearest airport is Ratnagiri 50 kms.
by Rail: Ratnagiri on the Konkan Railway is the nearest railhead and Kolhapur 144 kms. on the South Central Railway.
by Road: Mumbai-Ganpatipule 375 kms. via Mahad. Pune-Ganpatipule 331 kms. via Satara.Kolhapur-Ganpatipule 144 kms.

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Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Deities: Lord Ganesha
Location: Prabhadevi, Mumbai
Built In: 1801
Built by: Laxman Vithu & Mrs. Deubai Patil
Attraction: A major temple of Lord Ganesha
Best time to visit: all around the year
STD Code: 022

Aum Gan Ganpatye Namah

The Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ganesha. It is located in Prabhadevi, Dadar, Mumbai, and Maharashtra. It was originally built by Mr. Laxman Vithu and Mrs. Deubai Patil in November 19th, 1801.

The temple has a small mandapam (hall) with the shrine for Siddhi Vinayak (“Ganesha that grants your wish”). The wooden doors to the sanctum are carved with images of the Ashtavinayak (the eight manifestations of Ganesha in Maharashtra). The inner roof of the sanctum is plated with gold, and the central statute is of Ganesha. In the periphery of the temple, there is a Hanuman temple as well.

Most icons of Ganapati depict the elephant faced God with his trunk curled towards his left. Siddhi Vinayak in Mumbai, Siddhi Vinayak at Siddhatek in Maharashtra as well as Karpaka Vinayakar at Pillayarpatti in Tamilnadu are depicted with a trunk pointing to the right (Valampuri). Ganapati here is depicted with four arms bearing a lotus, an axe, modakas and a garland of beads, flanked by his consorts Siddhi and Riddhi.

Tuesday is considered to be the most auspicious days to visit Siddhivinyak temple when devotees converge in great numbers to pray. In the Hindu religion and mythology Lord Ganesha hold the most revered position and all the new works begin with His prayer. And hence, the Shri Siddhivinayak Temple is regularly visited by the renowned persons. Millions of devotees congregate to Vinayak Temple every month just to have a glimpse of the deity and offer their prayers.

The Shri Siddhivinayak temple has a narrow lane outside its precincts called the ‘Phool galli’ lined with innumerable stalls. Here you can buy tulsi flower garlands, coconuts, and sweets including the pear shaped favorite yellow sweet of Lord Ganesha, themodak. You may also love to explore several of the religious paraphernalia here.

Like all religious spots within India, the Vinayak Temple too is agog with beggars and you cannot escape their glare and the chaos to get something out of you. There are however adequate security measures within Shri Siddhivinayak temple with the presence of security guards at strategic points. The upper floors house the residential quarters of the priests. There is a great volume of faith attached to Lord Ganesha and it is said that the seeker never goes empty handed from the Shri Siddhivinayak temple.

Hundreds of thousands of devotees throng the temple, especially during Angaraki and Sankashti Chaturti days, when there is a continuous stream of visitors for as long as a 24 hour period. The temple was renovated to hold the huge crowd. During the festive time of Ganesh Chaturthi, Siddhivinayak Temple is thronged by incalculable number of people. Many television sets are installed for the knowledge of those, who do not have much time to wait in the long queues that lead to the main shrine.

The temple is built in Dravidian architectural style. The temple posse’s vast courtyards spacious hall and sculptural pillars with cement. The garbh graham is made with enshrining big sized black granite idol of lord sddhi, budhi, sameja vinayaga with mouse. Several mandaps are installed with adorable deities like durga Devi, lord hanuman placing on the left valli deivanai, sameda the rules and regulation underlines the principles of Sabarimalai Idol.

Lord Shiva linga is place under the pimple tree. Navgrihas are placed in the right side of the temple attracting devotees from all over the places with several devotional activities conducted throughout the year for all the deities. The temple top is constructed with raja gopuram at a height of 45 feet from the ground sculptured with 80 dolls of deities in gopuram rajagopuram are the special treat for eyes, 19 feet cement idols of hanuman also reminds the history of Ramayana mentioning the war in Srilanka on the Rajagopuram.

Lord Ganesha fulfills all the desires and wishes of his true devotees.

Other holy places in Mumbai:
Mumba Devi temple
Walkeshwar temple
Mahalaxmi temple
ISKCON temple
Babulnath Temple
St. Michael’s Church
Mt. Mary Church
Wodehouse Church
St. Thomas’ Cathedral

How to reach:
Mumbai is well connected by air, rail and road. The nearest station is Marine Lines. One can easily reach Siddhivinayak Temple by taking local Buses, auto-rickshaws or by hiring taxis from Mumbai.

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Ashtavinayak Temples, Maharashtra, India

Deities: Lord Ganesha
Location: Mumbai-Ashtavinayak with Pune- Mumbai
Best time to visit: all around the year
Information: Everybody should visit the Ashtavinayak in Maharashtra at least once in a life time.

Ashtavinayak means “Eight (8) Ganeshas”. The term Ashtavinayak also refers to a pilgrimage to the eight temples in Maharashtra that house eight idols of Lord Ganesh. Ashta Vinayak Temples are within the range of only 20 to 110 km.

These eight temples house the swayambhu or self-formed idols of the Lord Ganesh, hence the importance and high reverence attached to this octet. Each of these temples has its own individual mythology and history, as distinct from each other as the idols in each temple. The position of each idol and its trunk are some of their differentiating aspects.

(1) Shri Mayureshwar::
The temple, built from black-stone during the Bahamani reign. It is built by one of the king named Mr. Gol.The temple is situated in the centre of the village. The temple is covered from all sides. This may have been done to prevent attacks on the temple during mughal periods. The temple has 50feet tall wall around it.

The idol of Lord Ganesha, riding a peacock, in the form of Mayureshwara is believed to have slain the demon Sindhu at this spot. The idol, with its trunk turned to the left. The idol also has two other idols of Siddhi (Capability) and Buddhi (Intelligence).

However, this is not the original idol -which is said to have been consecrated twice by Brahma, once before & once after being destroyed by the demon Sindhurasur. The original idol, smaller in size and made of atoms of sand, iron & diamonds was supposedly enclosed in Copper sheet.

The temple is situated at a distance of 56 km from Pune, next to the river Karha in the village of Moregaon. The village derives its name from the Marathi name of the bird peacock – also the national bird of India; there used to be a lot of peacocks in this village in the ancient time, and the village is also set out in the shape of a peacock.

(2) Shri Siddhivinayak::
This is the only idol with the trunk pointing to the right. The temple is North-facing.

The main road towards the temple was believed to build by Peshwa’s general Haripant Phadake. The inner sanctum, 15feet high and 10feet wide is built by Punyashloka Ahilyabai Holkar. The idol is 3feet tall and 2.5feet wide. The idol faces North-direction. The stomach of the idol is not wide, but Riddhi and Siddhi idols are sitting on one thigh. This idol’s trunk is turning to the right. The right-sided-trunk Ganesha is supposed to be very strict for the devotees.

This temple is situated off the Pune-Solapur highway about 48 km from the town of Srigonda in Ahmadnagar district. The temple is situated next to Bhima river. On Pune-Solapur railway, Daund Railway station is 18Km from here.

(3) Shri Ballaleshwar::
Ganesha is believed to have saved his boy-devotee, Ballala, who was beaten by local villagers and his father (Kalyani-seth) for his single-minded devotion to him.

The original wooden temple was reconstructed in to a stone temple by Nana Phadanavis in 1760AD. There are two small lakes constructed on two sides of the temple. One of them is reserved for the puja (worship) of the deity.

This Temple faces the east and has two sanctums. The inner one houses the idol and has a Mushak (rat idol) with Modak in his forepaws in front of it. The hall, supported by eight exquisitely carved pillars demands as much attention as the idol, sitting on throne carved like a Cyprus tree. The eight pillars depict the eight directions. The temple is constructed in such a way that after the winter (dakshinayan: southward movement of the sun) solstice, the sun rays fall on the Ganesha idol at sunrise.

Like a few other idols, this one too has diamonds embedded in the eyes and navel, and with his trunk pointing to the left.

The temple is located in the town of Pali, off the Mumbai-Pune highway, about 11 km before Nagothane on the Mumbai-Goa highway. This is located 30Km to the South-West of Karjat Railway Station. Mumbai-Panvel-Khopoli-Pali is 124Km. Pune-Lonavla-Khopoli-Pali is 111Km.

(4) Shri Varadavinayak::
The handsome Prince Rukmangad refused sage Vachaknavi’s wife Mukunda’s illicit call, and was cursed to suffer from leprosy. Mukunda was satisfied by Indra who deceived her as Rukmangad and she bore a child by name Grutsamad. When Grutsamad came to know about the real story he cursed his mother Mukunda to become the tree of Bori and she in turn cursed him to bore a demon son named Tripurasur, the one who was defeated by Shiva after praying the Ranjangaon Ganesha. Grutsamad after getting cursed went to the forest of Pushpak and worshipped Ganesha. Sage Grutsamad is famous for the Ganesha: Varadavinayak.

Ramji Mahadev Biwalkar built the Varadavinayak temple and the village of Mahad.

The idol faces the east, has its trunk to the left and has been in the constant company of an oil lamp – said to be burning continuously since 1892. There are 4 elephant idols on 4 sides of the temple. The hall is 8feet by 8feet. The dome is 25feet high and is golden at the top. The dome has designs of cobra.

This is the only temple where devotees are allowed to personally pay their homage and respects to the idol. They are allowed in the immediate vicinity of this idol to perform their prayers.

The temple is located three kilometers off the Pune-Mumbai highway near Khopoli (80 km from Pune), and is thus closest to Mumbai city. Karjat Railway Station, Karjat on Mumbai-Pune railway is 24Km from this place and 6Km from Khopoli.

(5) Shri Chintamani::
Ganesha is believed to have got back the precious Chinatamani jewel from the greedy Guna for sage Kapila at this spot. However, after bringing back the jewel, sage Kapila put it in Vinayaka’s neck. Thus the name Chintamani Vinayak. This happened under the Kadamb tree, therefore that known as Kadambanagar in old times.

The lake behind the temple is called Kadambteertha. The temple entrance is north facing. The outer wooden hall is built by Peshwas. The main temple is supposed to have been built by Dharanidhar Maharaj Dev from the family-lineage of Shri Moraya Gosavi. He must have built this around 100 years before Senior Shrimant Madhavrao Peshwa built the outer wooden hall.
This idol also has a left trunk, with carbuncle and diamonds as its eyes. The idol faces the East side.

The temple is located 22 km from Pune, off the Pune-Solapur highway, and is hence the nearest from Pune.

(6) Shri Girijatmaj::
This temple stands amidst a cave complex of 18 caves of Buddhist origin. This temple is the 8th cave. These are called Ganesh-leni as well. The temple is carved out of a single stone hill, which has 307 steps. The temple features a wide hall with no supporting pillars. The temple hall is 53feet long, 51feet wide and 7feet in height.

The idol faces north with its trunk to the left, and has to be worshipped from the rear of the temple. The temple faces south. This idol seems to be little different from the rest of the Ashtavinayak idols in a sense that it appears to be not very well designed or carved like the other idols.

The temple is constructed such that during the day it is always lighted up by the sun-rays!

The temple is situated 12 km from Narayangaon, which is about 94 km from Pune on the Pune-Nashik highway. Nearest railway station is Talegaon. From Junnar, Lenyadri is about 5Km.

(7) Shri Vighnahar::
The history encompassing this idol states that Vighnasur, a demon was created by the King of Gods, Indra to destroy the prayer organized by King Abhinandan. However, the demon went a step further and destroyed all vedic, religious acts and to answer the people’s prayers for protection, Ganesh defeated him. The story goes on to say that on being conquered, the demon begged and pleaded with Ganesha to show a mercy. Ganesha then granted in his plea, but on the condition that demon should not go to the place where Ganesha worshipping is going on. In return the demon asked a favour that his name should be taken before Ganesha’s name, thus the name of Ganesha became Vighnahar or Vighneshwar.

The temple faces east and is surrounded by a thick stone wall. One can walk on the wall. The main hall of the temple is 20feet long and the inner hall is 10feet long. This idol, facing the east, has its trunk towards the left and rubies in its eyes. There is a diamond on the forehead and some jewel in the navel. Idols of Riddhi and Siddhi are placed on the two sides of the Ganesha idol.

This temple is located just off the Pune-Nashik Highway, in the town of Ozhar. It is enclosed on all sides by high stone walls, and its pinnacle is made of gold. The temple is situated on the banks of river Kukadi. Via Mumbai-Thane-Kalyan-Bapsai-Saralgaon-Otur, Ozhar is 182Km.

(8) Shri Mahaganapati::
Shiva is believed to have worshipped Ganesha before fighting the demon Tripurasura here. The temple was built by Shiva where he worshipped Ganesha, and the town he set up was called Manipur which is now known as Ranjangaon.

The idol faces the east, is seated in a cross-legged position with a broad forehead, with its trunk pointing to the left. It is said that the original idol is hidden in the basement, having 10 trunks and 20 hands and is called Mahotkat; however, the temple authorities deny existence of any such idol.

Constructed so that the rays of the sun fall directly on the idol (during the Southward movement of the sun), the temple bears a distinct resemblance to the architecture reminiscent of the 9th and 10th Centuries and faces the east. Shrimant Madhavrao Peshwa used to visit this temple very often and built the stone sanctum around the idol and in 1790.

The temple is situated 50 km from Pune on the Pune-Ahmednagar highway in the village of Ranjangaon.

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Bull Temple, Karnataka, India

Deities: Lord Shiva
Location: In Basavangudi, Bangalore, Karnataka
Built by: Kempe Gowda
Built in: 1537AD
Also known as: Nandi Temple
Attraction: 5 meter tall bull
Best time to visit: December to January

The “Bull Temple” is found in Bangalore the capital of Karnataka. Bangalore is relatively a new city and it dates as recently as 1537 when the Vijaynagar Kingdom made a grant of land to an ally called Kempe Gowda. In the 18th century, Haidar Ali, Tipu Sultan and the Wodiyar dynasty of Mysore strengthened it. The British later enlarged it and shifted the main cantonement from Srirangapattanam to a much higher and healthier Bangalore.

Bull Temple is one of the places to visit in Bangalore. Kempe Gowda made many temples.The height of the idol is approximately 15 ft and it is approximately 20 feet long. The Temple is positioned at the southern end of Bull Temple Road in Bangalore. The term ‘Basavangudi’ is derived from the word ‘Basava’, which means ‘Bull’.

A Bull started grazing on the well-grown crop enraging a farmer who hit the bull with a club. The bull sat stunned and was suddenly transformed into a stone. The shocked farmers then decided to build a temple for the bull to atone for what they had done, but were shocked to see that the bull was growing taller! The worried farmer then prayed to Lord Shiva who advised him to retrieve a trident buried a few feet away from the bull and place the trident on the forehead of the stone statue to stop it from growing.

The surrounding area, known as Sunkenahalli had groundnut growing farmers. A bull started grazing on the well-grown crop enraging a farmer who hit the bull with a club. The bull sat stunned and was suddenly transformed into a stone. The shocked farmers then decided to build a temple for the bull to atone for what they had done, but were shocked to see that the bull was growing taller! The worried farmer then prayed to Lord Shiva who advised him to retrieve a trident buried a few feet away from the bull and place the trident on the forehead of the stone statue to stop it from growing. This was done and the bull stopped growing. The thankful farmers decided to place their first crop of groundnut as an offering to the bull. Though in reality there is a trident on the forehead of the bull, this story is a legend and lacks historical evidence. Hence, this handsome Bull Temple was built and the bull apparently took the hint and stayed away from the groundnuts. The thankful farmers continue to hold a Groundnut Fair (kadalekayi parishe) near the temple premises every year, to show their gratitude. It is one of the places to visit in Bangalore. Kempe Gowda got constructed many temples dedicated to Anjaneya (God of Power), Vinayaka (God of good fortune), Nandi (Shiva’s bull mount).

One can see in the shrine atop the hill a massive garlanded black and shiny Nandi (Shiva’s mount, the bull) ensconced, which dates back to 1786. The size of the Nandi is overwhelming. At the back is a small Lingam shrine. Its modern Gopuram rises, gracefully and majestically. The underground “Sri-Gavi Gandadhareshwara Temple” is equally fascinating, where on every year on January 14th (Makara Sankranti) it is believed that a ray of light passes between the horn of a Nandi outside the temple and lights the idol kept inside. Three levels of excavations have been carried out in the cave. One can see the black stone Hanuman. On the way to the Bull Temple there is one a temple dedicated to the Elephant God Ganesha.

The architectural style of the temple rejuvenates the notion of Dravidian architecture. In the vicinity of this temple, there is a shrine of Lord Ganesha by the name of Dodda Ganesha Temple. The unique feature about this shrine is that the huge image of the Lord is made out of 110 kilograms of butter after every four years. It is amazing to know that the butter never melts. After every four years, the butter deity is broken and distributed amongst the devotees.

Bull temple is a buzz with great activity during the Shivratri festival.

Local festival Kadalekaye Parishe (Ground nut fair) at the Bull Temple includes a groundnut eating festival. The farmers offer their first harvest collection to Nandi (November-December). The temple is busy always with some ceremony that is on all the time at the temple premises. On weekends, musicians present their concerts at the temple.

How to reach:
One can easily reach Bull Temple by taking local Buses, auto rickshaws or by hiring taxis from Bangalore.

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Chintamani Ganesh Temple, Madhya Pradesh, India

Location: Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
Built by: Paramara Kings
Built in: 11th – 12th Century
Dedicated to: Lord Ganesha
Significance: Highly revered shrine of Lord Ganesha

The temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, who is regarded as the Lord of beginnings as per the Hindu beliefs. In the traditional times, the Lord is known as ‘Chintaharan’, which literally means remover of all worries and tensions. The temple is thronged by crowds of people that come to do away with all their worries at the shrine of the Lord. The term ‘Chintamani’ is another name used for Lord Vishnu, who is considered as the preserver of the Universe as per Hindu Mythology.

About the Chintaman Ganesh:
Chintaman Ganesh is situated in the heart of the city market. The temple dates an age of 11th and 12th century. The shrine is the temple of Lord Ganesh who is also known as ‘the elephant god’. The temple was built under the rule of Paramara who ruled Malwa for years and left various ruins as the evidence. Inside the temple, the ‘Garbhgriha’ comprises the image of Lord Ganesha. The specialty of the temple is that the idol of the temple was not man-made; it is supposed to be ‘swayambhu’ (self-manifested). According to the Hindu mythology Ganesha was the first god who should be worshipped first than any other Hindu god and goddess. The idol of Ganesha is also named as Vighneshwar and thus the main essence of the idol of this place is that the idol represents the dissolve of all worries and obstacles of the devotees.

The very appearance of the temple suggests that it belongs to prehistoric times. Still, the temple has not lost its charm; in fact, it has become unique with its ancient origin. People visit this temple, in large numbers, to get the graceful blessings of Lord Ganesha.

How to Reach:
One can reach the Chintamani Ganesh Temple, Ujjain by plane to Indore or directly by train. So, after reaching the city you can come to the Chintamani Temple by hired bus or car.

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