Location : Near Junnar | Category : 1 Day Picnics | Distance from Pune : 96 KMs
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Lenyadri is located at around 96 kms from Pune, near Junnar. It is located at about 3 miles from Junnar. It is situated on the north-west banks of river Kukadi, which flows between Golegaon and Junnar.

Lenyadri represents a series of about 30 rock-cut Buddhist caves and is one of the Ashtavinayak shrines. Twenty-six of the caves are individually numbered. The caves face to the south and are numbered serially from east to west. Caves 6 and 14 are chaitya-grihas (chapels), while the rest are viharas (dwellings for monks). The latter are in the form of dwellings and cells. There are also several rock-cut water cisterns; two of them have inscriptions. The layout of the caves, in general, are similar in pattern and shape. The caves date from between the 1st and 3rd century AD; the Ganesha shrine situated in Cave 7 is dated to the 1st century AD,though the date of conversion to a Hindu shrine is unknown. All of the caves arise from Hinayana Buddhism. The current name "Lenyadri" literally means "mountain cave". It is derived from 'Lena' in Marathi meaning "cave" and 'adri' in Sanskrit meaning "mountain" or "stone".It is also called Jeernapur and Lekhan parvat.The hill is also known as Suleman Pahar or Ganesh Pahar. The caves are also known as Ganesh Lena or Ganesh Caves.Lenyadri is the only Ashtavinayaka temple on a mountain and within the precincts of Buddhist caves.

The Ganesha temple is located in Cave 7, it is essentially a Buddhist Vihara (a dwelling for monks, mostly with meditation cells) in design, an unpillared hall with 20 cells with varying dimensions; 7 on either side and 6 on the rear wall. The hall is large, can be entered by a central door, under a pillared veranda. The hall is treated now as a sabha-mandapa ("assembly hall") of the Ganesha temple. 283 steps built (by devotees) in stone masonry over eight flights lead to the entrance. The hall also has traces of plaster and paintings, both added during the conversion and renewed in later times - possibly as late as the 19th century. The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency (1882) records that the hall was plastered and white-washed. The paintings depicted Ganesha's childhood, marriage preparations, battle with demons and so forth, along with scenes of other Hindu deities like Devi, Krishna, Vishnu and Shiva.

The Ganesha form worshipped here is called Girijatmaja. The name is either interpreted as "mountain-born" or as "Atmaja of Girija", the son of Parvati, who herself is daughter of the mountain Himavan, a personification of the mountains of Himalayas. The features of the Ganesha icon, seen on the back wall of the cave, are the least distinct. The temple faces the south, - according to a local tradition - the deity faces north, with his back to his worshipper and his face visible on the other side of the mountain. The Peshwa rulers even tried in vain to locate the face of Ganesha on the other side.The central icon was covered with brass-plated wooden armour, given as a gift by Junnar Brahmins. The armour is not present currently. After it was removed, Ganesha could be seen with his trunk turned to the left side, facing east, with one of his eyes visible. The icon is covered with sindoor and is directly formed/sculpted on the stone wall of the cave.Like all Ashtavinayaka temples, the central Ganesha image is believed to be svayambhu, a naturally occurring stone formation resembling an elephant-face.

According to the Ganapatya scripture Ganesha Purana, Ganesha incarnated as Mayuresvara or Mayureshwar (Mayuresvara), who had six arms and a white complexion. His mount was a peacock. He was born to Shiva and Parvati in the Treta yuga, for the purpose of killing the demon Sindhu.

The caves including the temple lie under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India. The festivals of Ganesh Jayanti and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated in the temple.

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