Why do devotees of Lord Ganesha undertake the Ashtavinayak Yatra, visiting the 8 temples which are home to the Lord?
Staunch devotees of Lord Ganesha try to embark on the Ashtavinayaka Yatra at least once during their lifetime. This yatra (journey) involves a bit of hectic travel as the aim of the yatra is to visit all the 8 Ganapati temples located around Pune city in Maharashtra at one go. The yatra itself can take 2 to 4 days depending on your energy levels & the time available. With hectic work schedules, today’s urban working devotees try to complete the yatra within a single weekend. Tour operators, in fact, offer customised packages for such people. Some devotees visit Mahad, Pali and Theoor on one day and Shidhatek & Morgaon on the second day. On the third day they visit Ranjangaon & Ozhar & on the fourth day Lenyadri after which they return to Morgaon. Others visit the temples within 3 or even 2 days.
The reason why devotees are eager to do the Ashtavinayaka Yatra is simple: they believe that Lord Ganesha’s personal darshan can be done only by physically visiting each of the 8 temples. It is their deep faith which leads them to visit all these temples. They attain not just happiness on visiting these temples but also acquire a pureness of mind. They experience an even more deeper & pure faith in God than before. Moreover, the idols of these temples are said to be naturally created from the earth & not by human hands. So visiting these temples is like visiting the purest form of Ganapati.
Location of Ganapati Temples near water
An interesting aspect of the location of Ganapati temples is that these are generally to be found near a water body. A temple devoted to Lord Ganesha may be located on the banks of a river or a lake or a small pond & sometimes you will see a water tank or a well nearby. It is believed that Lord Indra, the King of the Gods, directs the flow of the water to the earth in its many forms. The water is considered to be the purest & sweetest when it comes from the heavens in the form of rain. In whatever form it may take, whether a pond, a well or an ocean, it is believed that one can see divine radiance in that water since it comes from above. It is in this divine radiance that the form of Lord Ganesha resides. Water is thereby considered to be the most expansive & all-powerful element in nature. In fact, water is considered to be one of the panchmahashaktis of Ganapati.