The Temples of Maharashtra  

The State of Maharashtra has to its credit hoary pilgrimage centers as well as landmarks in the evolution of Indian Temple architecture. Two of the grand ancient rock cut temples of India dedicated to Shiva - The Elephanta Cave Temple and the Kailasanatha Temple at Ellora are in Maharashtra. Also in this state are three of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines, two of the Shakti Peethas, the eight Ashta Vinayak shrines and the revered Vitthala shrine at Pandharpur - glorified by the saints of Maharashtra.  

The following list is a pointer to the numerous Temples of Maharashtra.  

Ashta Vinayak

Ganesh Chaturti is celebrated with an extra measure of grandeur in the state of Maharashtra. The Siddhi Vinayak temple in Mumbai is visited by hundreds of thousands of devotees throughout the year. Also in Maharashtra are eight temples dedicated to Ganesha, related to various episodes from the puranas and other legends - and these deities are collectively known as Ashta Vinayak. 

Bhavani Temple at Tuljapur

Bhavani was the tutelary deity of Maharaja Shivaji the valiant Maratha ruler and is held in great reverence throughout the state of Maharashtra. Bhavani is considered to be an embodiment of the ugra or ferocity, as well as a Karunaswaroopini - filled with mercy. The Bhavani temple in Tuljapur is located on a hill known as Yamunachala, on the slopes of the Sahayadri range in Maharashtra near Sholapur. The temple entrance is at an elevation and visitors need to transcend a flight of steps to reach the shrine. Historic records speak of the existence of this temple from as early as the 12th century CE. Bhavani is worshipped in the form of a three foot high granite image, with eigh arms holding weapons, bearing the head of the slain demon Mahishasura. Bhavani is also known as Tulaja, Turaja, Tvarita and Amba.   

Bhimashankaram

Bhimashankar in Maharashtra is an ancient shrine, enshrining Bhimashankara one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. Bhimashankar is located in the village of Bhavagiri 50 km north west of Khed, near Pune. It is located 110 km away from Pune in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills. Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows south east and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Tryambakeshwar and Grishneshwar. This temple is closely associated with the legend of Shiva slaying the demon Tripurasura associated with the invincible flying citadels Tripuras. Shiva is said to have taken abode in the Bhima form, upon the request of the Gods, on the crest of the Sahyadri hills, and the sweat that poured forth from his body after the battle is said to have formed the Bhimarathi river.  

The Temple: The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures and is built in the Nagara style of architecture. It is a modest temple yet graceful temple and it dates back to mid 18th century. The shikhara of the temple was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji is also said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate the carrying out, of worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level.

Tryambakeshwar 

Tryambakeshwar located near at a distance of about 30 km from Nasik in Maharashtra is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Tryambakeshwar is the source of the river Godavari. This is an ancient shrine, however the current structure is a result of the reconstruction efforts undertaken by the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao in mid 18th century. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Bhimashankar and Grishneshwar. Legend has it that Gowtama muni resided on the Bhramagiri hill here with his wife Ahalya, and by virtue of his devotion received from Varuna, a bottomless pit from which he received an inexhaustible supply of grains and food. The other rishis, jealous of his fortune, arranged for a cow to enter his granary, and caused it to die as Gowtama attempted to ward it off with a bunch of Darbha grass.  

Mahalakshmi Temple at Kolhapur

The four Shakti Peethas of Maharashtra are Tuljapur enshrining Bhavani, Kolhapur enshrining Mahalakshmi, Mahur enshrining Mahamaya Renukaand Saptshringi enshrining Jagadamba. Other Shakti temples in the state are those at Ambe Jogai and Aundh. Kolhapur is located in Kolhapur district and is well connected with Pune, 240 km north. It is on the national highway between Bangalore and Pune. It is situated on the banks of the Panchganga river and is full of ancient temples and shrines.   

Grishneshwar

Grishneshwar is an ancient pilgrimage site revered as the abode of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. It is located at a distance of 11 km from Daulatabad near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Daulatabad was once known as Devagiri. Located nearby are the popular tourist attractions Ellora - featuring ancient rock cut monuments from the 1st millennnium CE, and Ajanta known for its exquisite cave paintings again from the 1st millennium CE. The Grishneswar temple was constructed by Ahilyabhai Holkar who also re-constructed the Kasi Viswanatha temple at Benares and the Vishnu Paada temple at Gaya. Grishneshwar is also known as Ghushmeshwar. 

Ellora

The Ellora caves are situated about 30 km from Aurangabad and are even more impressive that those at Ajanta in terms of architectural splendour. There are about 34 caves in Ellora, each carved out in a curve on the slope of low hills - 16 caves are Hindu, 13 Buddhist and five of the Jain faith. These rock temples also have monastries constructed between the 5th and 8th centuries.

Some of the places of worship
Temples of Tamil Nadu
Temples of Karnataka
Temples of Orissa
Temples of Maharashtra
Temples of Kerala
Temples of Andhra Pradesh
Temples of Madhya Pradesh
Temples of the Gangetic Plains