Saturday, 7 September 2013

The West Coast of Ganesha

If we can count, and let me tell you that this is a herculean task though not impossible, the number of temple in India the maximum of such structure would probably be dedicated to Ganesha, Anjaneya and Rama.
Strangely, Ganesha seems to have caught the fancy of millions of people, including children, who adore Ganesha. He is one of the few gods along with Rama and Krishna whose stories have been told in books, cartoons and in serials on television.
Ganesha is so common that he is present in almost every town and city of India. He is worshipped by all sects and sub sects of Hindus and he is called by different names in different states.
In Karnataka and most of south India, he is known as Ganapathy or Ganesha and one of the most famous temples dedicated to this elephant god is in Idagunji and several other temples nearby. If Pune has the Asta Vinayak circuit (eight temples near Pune each of which represent a particular character and trait of Ganesha), this stretch too has its own Ganesha temples which can be seen in a day.  
The West Coast of India in this area is also popularly called the Ganesha Coast.
The coastline stretching from Kasargod to Gokarna is where these six temples are built. Since the residents of  the Western seaboard are ardent devotees of Ganesha, they visit all the six shrines in a day, which they say is an auspicious event.
No wonder, these six temple appear crowded all year around. The six temples are:  Madhur Mahaganapathy temple near Kasargod, Sharavu Mahaganapathy in Mangalore, Mahaganapathy at Kumbhashi or Ane Gudde, Siddi Vinayaka Hattiangadi at Kundapura, Dwibhuja Ganapathy at Idagunji and the Ganapaty at Gokarna in Uttara Kannada district.
Each of the six Ganapathy has its own legend to narrate and its own story to relate. Locals say if anybody visits all these temples in day between dawn and dusk along with his family, he will receive special blessings of the elephant god.  
It is for this reason that this stretch of beautiful coastline is also know as Ganesha Coast. In reality, it is Parashurama Kshetra or the land that was reclaimed by Lord Parashurama from the sea. The natural beauty of the coast, the magnificent Arabian sea, the calm looking Ganesha at these six places all present a wonderous sight.  The locals believe that it is Ganesha who is protecting this stretch of coast from natural calamities.
Incidentally, this faith is not misplaced. References to this coast can also found in the Ramayana (Threta Yuga). It is on this coast that Ganesha deceived Ravana, into placing the Atmalingam here itself instead of carrying it to Lanka.
If  Ravana had manage to carry the linga to Lanka, then he would become invincible and more powerful than all the gods put together. When Ganesha foiled Ravana in his mission, the enraged Asura hits him on the head.  
Even today the head of the Ganesha idol consecrated in the Mahaganapathi temple at Gokarna has a soft point, This is the place where Ravana hit Ganesha, says our puranas. Here, devotees can themselves perform abhisheka to Ganesha. Moreover, devotees are allowed to touch the God and also make his own offerings.  The distance between the Ganapathyu temple in Madhur and Gokarna is 270 kilometres and the road traverses across eleven  rivers including the Chandragiri and Sharavathi. The darshan of all the six Ganeshas can be accomplished in seven hours.
Madhur is just five kilometers from Kasargod, while Sharavu is in  Mangalore city. The town of Kumbhashi is just 500 metres from National Highway 17 and Hattiangadi is eight kms from NH 17. Idagunji is seven kilometres from NH 17 and Gokarna temple is about 10 km from the highway.
Devotees can start their journey early in the morning from Madhur where the temple opens at 5 a.m. Since the temple office opens only at 7-30 a.m., you may have to wait to perform seves. The next stop could be Mangalore and then Kumbhashi which is about 78 kms from Mangalore.
Kumbhashi to Hattiangadi is about 20 km and Hattiangadi to Idagunji is about 45 km.

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