Ganeshpuri is a small village near Virar in the district of Thane Palghar in Maharashtra. The place has gained immense popularity as a weekend getaway among the locals and the tourists from the adjacent cities. Adorned by an old temple and hot springs, it is an offbeat destination for tourists from different parts of India. Guru Purnima Festival is specially celebrated as a mark of respect to Bhagavan Nityananda Maharaj and draws pilgrims from various parts of the state. Another interesting activity in Ganeshpuri is an adventurous trek along the Mandakini or Mandagni mountains.
The temple is old, dedicated to the deities of Nityananda Maharaj and Swami Muktananda. It is frequented mostly by their followers and devotees. Born in Kerala, Bhagavan Nityananda stayed at Ganeshpuri from 1936 to 1961. He is a famous Indian Guru possessing a divine power to instill spiritual energy among people. In 1936 he visited a temple of Lord Shiva in Ganeshpuri and expressed his satisfaction to stay at the temple. The owner of the temple constructed a small hut for him and soon it was transformed to his ashram as people flooded to listen to his spiritual teachings. Later his ardent student Swami Muktananda spread his teachings among the mass. Nityananda’s Samadhi shrine is also placed in the temple grounds.
The temple is considered to be a holy place among the locals and the devotees. It is believed that Sai Baba also had visited the temple once. The place is slowly revamping to the status of urban development in order to allure tourists from India and abroad.
The architecture of the temple is simple and not elaborate. The purity dwelling inside transforms human mind to a spiritual and heavenly state. You can sit and meditate inside the temple, relaxed from the hustle and bustle of regular busy life. The maintenance of the temple is entrusted to “Shri Bhimeshwar Sadguru Nityanand Trust”. Food and lodging inside the temple is provided by the trust. You most miss the Aarti at the temple which is held multiple times during the day. The morning Aarti happens at 4:22 AM and 6:00 AM, the afternoon Aarti happens at 12 noon and the evening Aarti at 8:00 PM and 9:30 PM.
Near the temple there are several other small temples like that of Shri Krishna, Goddess BhadraKali and Shri Bhimeshwar Shiva. You can also visit the Kailash Nivas, the residence of Bhagavan Nityananda. A garden and playground for kids and a small museum are also present around the temple premises. The temple provides parking facilities too.
Ganeshpuri Hot Spring
There are 3 hot springs in Ganeshpuri near the Shri Bhimeshwar temple. The springs have evolved from the River Tansa. The temperature of the hot water is 52 degrees C. One of them is named as Gorakh Machhindar and another is named as Agni. Reservoirs are built around the springs to store the water used for bathing and holy dip by the pilgrims. Tanks near a Shiva shrine in the Ganeshpuri village are used to hold water for the hot springs.
It is believed that Bhagavan Nityananda took bath in the hot springs every day and then went for meditation to a nearby island. During his time, Ganeshpuri was encompassed by dense forests and hills with the cannibal tribes dwelling in the region. Nityananda transformed the village into a spiritual and holy place for the 25 years he resided in the region. As per him the Indian mythology states that the hot springs were gifted by the holy saint Guru Vashishta. The springs were created from his divine power for sages to perform their Yagnas. Nityananda taught his devotees that the hot water springs are sacred and named them as “Kotitheerthas”. Since then devotees of Nityananda have made it customary to take a holy dip into the hot water springs to purify their soul.
Shri Bhimeshwar Shiva Temple at Ganeshpuri
Bhagavan Nityananda is believed to have stayed at the temple when he came for the first time in Ganeshpuri. The temple and an ashram beside it served as the spiritual teaching school of Nityananda. Idols of Lord Ganapati, Lord Vishnu and Goddess Parvati are present inside the temple. A Shiva Linga is also placed at the temple. At the entrance of the temple you can find Lord Hanuman at one side and Dattatreya at the other side. Devotees arrive in large numbers at the temple to achieve salvation and peace.
The Adventurous part of Ganeshpuri
From the foothills of the Ganeshpuri village, originates an exciting trek towards the Mandagni mountain. Located at an altitude of 1781 feet above sea level the mountain is embellished with stunning green landscape. From the mountain top you can witness the splendid views of the villages Ganeshpuri and Vajreshwari and the River Tansa. During the monsoons the scenery transforms magical with streams of water flowing along the mountain walls. The long tiring hike to the mountain seems easy with the company of the mesmerizing beauty of nature.
How to reach Ganeshpuri?
Buses are available from the Virar West Depot bus station to Ganeshpuri. Auto-rickshaws are also available from Virar. If you are travelling by car then you need to avail the National Highway 8 to reach Ganeshpuri.
The nearest railway station is Virar. Virar is well connected with the other railway stations of the state specially Mumbai. From Virar station avail buses, autos or hire cabs to reach Ganeshpuri.
The nearest airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport at Mumbai. Local trains and buses can be availed to reach Virar. Alternatively you can hire a cab to reach Ganeshpuri directly.