One of the most popular and most worshiped deities in Hindu Mythology is the elephant headed God or Lord Ganesha. He is believed to be remover of all obstacles and the epitome of all knowledge. As the Lord of beginnings, He is invoked at the beginning of all rituals, ceremonies and festivals. India, being the land of temples has innumerable temples dedicated to Lord Ganapati or Vinayaka, the other names by which Lord Ganesha is known. While some temples are recent, it is not uncommon to come across ancient temples associated with various legends as you travel across India. Here are two temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha in the Udupi district of Karnataka that are highly revered and religiously very significant.
Hattiangadi Sri Siddhivinayaka Temple:
The quaint village of Hattiangadi is located about 9 km to the north east of Kundapur town. It was once the capital of the Alupa Kings and the Ganesha temple is believed to have been constructed around the 7th or 8th century. The river Varahi flows through this place and the road leading to the temple is scenic with lush greenery on either side. The renovated temple was inaugurated in 1980 and a further renovation was done in the late 1990s.
The main idol of the deity standing about 2.5 feet tall is black in color and carved out of Saligrama (black fossil) stone. It is the only idol of Ganesha in the country where His curly black hair is left loose at the back. Highly pious, the offering of the locally available flowers of the areca nut tree is considered extremely sacred here.
The falling of these flowers from the crown of the Lord each time the ‘Aarthi’ is performed is a highlight of the deity. ‘Sahasra Narikela Ganayaga’ (a pooja using 1008 coconuts) is one of the special prayers conducted in the temple.
The idol is believed to grow in size each year and since it is believed that all wishes are granted by the Lord, the title of ‘Siddhi’ is conferred on God Ganesha. Attracting devotees from all over the world, this blessed place is not be missed while in Tulunad.
Guddattu Vinayaka Temple, Shiriyara-Guddattu road:
Dedicated again to Lord Ganesha, this unique temple is a one-of-a-kind, natural wonder that has a mythological legend associated with it. About 95 km from Mangalore, the temple is located in Shiriyara after Brahmavar town in Udupi district.
The idol here has neither been installed nor sculpted but is believed to have self manifested in the rock centuries ago. The huge rock is, in fact, the abode of the Lord and devotees are shown a glimpse of the deity through a small opening from the outside. Peering through the dark rock, one can see Lord Ganapathi in the sitting posture with His trunk, eyes and legs being visible through the natural light emitted by the oil lamps that are lit within. You need to visit the temple at around 11.30 am as the deity will be shown once the daily rituals and poojas are completed.
Legend has it that Ganesha has been placed here by His father Lord Shiva himself when the former consumed excessive honey which created a burning sensation in his body. Shiva instructed His son to stay in the waters adjacent to the rock after which Ganesha has made His abode in the pool here.
The ‘Aayira Koda Abhisheka’ or the vedic ritual of bathing the idol with one thousand pots of water every day from the nearby well is the special pooja conducted only here. An elaborate set of prayers and rituals follow this after which Ganesha is immersed in neck deep water. The aim behind doing this daily is to alleviate the pain of the God with the cooling effect of the water.
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Wishing all my readers a very Happy 2017, a year that is filled with happiness, peace, good health and success:)