Ganesh Chaturthi is just around the corner and everyone is gearing up for the festivities. For ten days, the streets of Maharashtra will resemble a carnival, with local stages, music, dance and celebrations of all kinds. I have never seen Mumbai more vibrant than it is during the 10 days of Ganpati festival. The excitement about the festival reminded me of the last Ashtavinayak Yatra I went on.
It’s on that ride that I realized that as riders we get so caught up with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter that we tend to forget the real intention of the ride; that every ride need not have an intention. I think I enjoyed it much more when the camera was inside and the phone data connectivity was switched off, like I did on the Highest Blogger Meet road trip. You can read all about it here, here and well, here.
While the Ashtavinayak yatra by bike or car is very doable in two days, I would recommend stretching it to three days to really enjoy the country side which look nothing less than scenes from the Hobbit’s Shire, the best food, blissful darshans and small motels and bhakht niwas’ along the way.
All pictures on this post about Ashtavinayak Yatra have been taken by Deepti Kshirsagar
Ideal time for Ride
Since longer distances need to be covered, before the end of monsoons is a good time. Bikers have traditionally preferred the weekend before Ganesh Chaturthi. But you can do it after that as well. I personally don’t associate any religious significance to the timing of the ride; but everyone is entitled to their beliefs. This time is also when the country side is the prettiest in Maharashtra with fluorescent green grass. So as long as monsoons are around; you should be ok!
Recommended Route for Ashtavinayak
Recommended Duration: Three Days
Complete the following temples on Day 1
- Varadavinayak Temple, Mahad on NH4
- Ballaleshwar Temple, Pali on State Highway 93
- Moreshwar Temple in Moregaon
- Head to Siddhivinayak Temple in Siddatek on SH67
- Chintamani Temple in Theur off SH61 (or Shirur – Satara Road)
- Mahaganapati Temple in Ranjangaon on SH27 (or Shirdi – Ahmednanagar – Pune Highway)
- Vighnahar Temple, Ozar off SH111 (Pune – Nashik Highway)
- Girijatmaj Temple, Lenyadri which is around 14 kms away nearby
The last two temples are on village roads, and there no state highways to boast off. A small warning, Google Maps will show a route 12 kms lesser than the route via Shirur which is not really not worth calling a road. We decided to take that route out of adventure and it didn’t disappoint. Unless you’re OK, with broken oil seals on the front forks; and an aching butt don’t venture into this route. In a car, your shock absorbers will be tested!
Recommended places to stay
Day 1 of Ashtavinayak
If you make decent time then the ideal place to stay on Day 1 would be Daund on further ahead of Patas on NH9. There are loads of motels and lodges here and can offer a decent stay.
Stay at the Maheshwari Bhakt Niwas outside the temple. The cost of each room is Rs. 150 which is more like a donation. They’re neat with Indian toilets, and you can wake up to the temple prayers in the morning.
Day 2 of Ashtavinayak
There are a lot of lodges in Ranjangaon and a few new ones have opened near the temple. There is one however run by an elderly gentleman further down the road from the temple by a walk. Avoid this place like plague because it probably has it thanks to an infestation by rats. Don’t remember the name of the owner or the place. Don’t care.
We stayed at Hotel Rajyog which is 3 kms on the highway from the temple. Has ample parking, decent food (you’ll get your Chinese and Punjabi if you must) and good beds.
Note: Most of the places wouldn’t need an advance booking but for Ranjangaon
Revving up the bikes in the morning at Ranjangaon
Other stay options on Ashtavinayak
Every temple has a Bhakt Niwas except Siddatek. We heard that the one there is dilapidated and not functional. In fact some of the newest ones are at Ozar. If you do the route via Malshej from Mumbai, this should be the first pit stop on Day 1.
Must do things during Ashtavinayak
The good thing about this ride is not just the holy aspect of a pilgrimage but also the wonderful food trail, shopping experiences and trip down memory lane it is in it’s own way. I would recommend a experiences to everyone.
- Eat at the Farmer shacks at Siddatek (Brunch on Day 2)
Imagine piping hot food off a coal and wood oven. Rotis made out of Jawar and Bajra, authentic Maharashtrian food at a cost no one can beat! You’ll be sitting on the floor while the lady of the house cooks for you.
- Pakoras at Varanda (Bor) Ghats (Day 1)
There are a zillion places out there which make pakoras. Now imagine having that inconspicuous pakora with a view to die for! Ladies and gentlemen, behold the view chai and pakora stall owners wake up to everyday in the morning on state highway 70!
- Eat at the Prasadalaya of Ranjangaon (Day 2)
The food is free, it’s great and it’s prasad of one of the most revered Ashtavinayak.
- Shop for local stuff at every temple
There are loads of shops which sell everything from keychains, books, keep sakes, knick knacks, food, sweets and dry fruits. Stock up on all of them while you ride/drive. It’s a bargainer’s paradise!
- Lenyadri’s love for lime juice and photography
You could have a gallon of this and it would still seem like less. Have this only when are coming down the long flight of stairs. Lenyadri offers some of the best views amongst all eight temples of the Ashtavinayak. It’s not a bad idea to carry your tripod to the top and spend time photographing. Be mindful of the monkeys. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!
You could check the Ashtavinayak route map here. You can customize the road trip and make it your own. Feel free to chat with us, if you have any questions. This trip also features in our calendar of the long weekends of 2020, and there are a few more to go so do check it out! Monsoons are a good time for this trip, and you should check this post about driving during monsoons.
Long weekends are good time to relax. You can do a lot of things like going on a ashtavinayak road trip or do something else. Need help with what you can do? Check out list of things to do on a long weekend. If you do choose to go on a road then try to avoid these mistakes and you will enjoy your road trip even more.