Surrounded by nature's bounty

Last Updated 18 August 2014, 16:43 IST

An ancient and famous shrine of Maha Ganapathi is located in a small village called Idagunji in Uttara Kannada district, about 15 km from Honnavara. The small town of Honnavara lies on the coast of Arabian Sea and on the banks of the River Sharavathi.

This locale is blessed with an abundance of scenic natural beauty with beautiful beaches and breathtaking landscapes.

Idagunji is one of the six famous Ganesha shrines on the west coast of India, which is popularly known as the ‘Ganesha Coast’. The other temples are at Kasargod, Mangalore, Anegudde, Kundapura and Gokarna. This Temple is located very close to the picturesque Sharavathi river and is believed to have a history of more than 1500 years.

Legend has it that towards the end of the Dwapara Yuga when Lord Krishna was leaving for his abode, people all over feared the advent of Kali Yuga. To overcome all the dreaded impediments of Kali Yuga, sages started performing penance, special rituals and yagnas seeking Krishna’s help.

Obstacle-ridden path

Some sages led by Valakhilya started their rituals in Kunjavana, a forest area on the banks of the River Sharavathi in Karnataka. They encountered several hardships and obstacles while performing the rituals and became very disturbed and frustrated and sought the advice of sage Narada. He instructed Valakhilya to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha who is known as ‘remover of obstacles.’

The sages prayed day and night and managed to appease Lord Ganesha. The Lord decided to make it his permanent abode and to satisfy the desires of all his devotees. He also created a small pond where his devotees could have holy dips before worshipping him. This came to be known as Ganeshtirtha.

Two lakes iwere also created in the vicinity for the benefit of the sages and other devotees, called Chakrathirtha and Brahmathirtha. The devotees then built a temple at the same spot where Lord Ganesha presented himself to the sages, at Idagunji.

Idagunji Temple is medium-sized when compared to other temples in Karnataka, but the deity is considered to be very powerful. The entrance to the garbhagriha is decorated with colourful designs and statuettes of apsaras. Just above the entrance arch, we see an assemblage of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathi seated on a rock, with Bala Ganesha on Shiva’s lap and Bala Subramanya on Devi’s lap.

Deity for all

A huge Nandi is seated at the forefront. The divine sage Narada is standing at the left and sage Valakhilya is seated on the right, engrossed in penance. The main idol of Lord Ganesha housed in the inner sanctum is very old, dating back to 4th century.

The beautiful idol is made of black stone and is in dwibhuja style (with two hands), standing on a stone pedestal. The right hand holds a lotus bud while the left holds a modaka (his favourite sweet).

There is a single garland across his chest, and a necklace of small bells. The idol is about 33 inches tall and 23 inches wide. Interestingly, we do not find the mouse, his mooshika vahana, anywhere in the sanctum. Instead, we find many dwarf cows and bulls roaming around in the premises.

Certain sects of Brahmins revere the Ganesha at Idagunji as their family deity and worship him for seeking good marriage alliances for their children. The families of the bride and the groom visit this shrine and perform the ritual of prasada keluvudu for the same. The Idagunji Temple also provides free lunch for devotees at the Mayura Prasada Bhojanalaya in the premises.

The special prasada of this shrine is known as pancha khadya, a special nivedhya prepared for the Lord, which is distributed to devotees. Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated as the major festival of this Temple every year when lakhs of devotees assemble to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha.

Devotees offer garike grass (available for sale near the temple) to Ganesha, which is considered as the most auspicious act here.

For more than thousand years now, Maha Ganapathi of Idagunji has been blessing and fulfilling the wishes of lakhs of devotees who regularly visit the shrine.

(Published 18 August 2014, 16:43 IST)

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