The Lenyandri temple is another one of the Ashtavinayaka, the eight revered shrines of Ganesha in Maharashtra.
According to the Ganapatya scripture Ganesha Purana, Ganesha incarnated as Mayuresvara or Mayureshwar, who had six arms and a fair complexion. He was born to Shiva and Parvati in the Treta yuga, for the purpose of killing the demon Sindhu.His mount was a peacock.
Once Parvati (Girija) asked her husband Shiva who he was mediating on. Desiring to have a son, Parvati performed a penance for twelve years in the caves of Lenyadri. Pleased by her penance, Ganesha blessed her with the boon that he will be born as her son. On the fourth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month Bhadrapada - Purattasi(Ganesh chaturthi day), Parvati worshipped an image of Ganesha made of clay, which came alive. Thus, Ganesha was born to Parvati at Lenyadri. Later, he was named Gunesha by Shiva meaning one who has three qualities Satva, Raja and Tama under his control. For 15 years Gunesha grew up at Lenyadri. Sindhu, who knew that his death would be at the hands of Gunesha, sent demons like Krur, Balasur, Vyomasur, Kshemma, Kushal, and many more, to kill Gunesha, but all of them were instead killed by him.
At the age of six, the architect God Vishwakarma worshipped Gunesha and endowed him with the weapons Pasha (noose), Parashu (axe), Ankusha (hook) and Padma (Lotus). Once, little Gunesha knocked an egg from a mango tree, from which emerged a peacock. Gunesha mounted the peacock and assumed the name Mayureshwara. Mayureshwar later killed Sindhu and his army at Morgaon, the most important Ashtavinayaka temple.
The Ganesha form worshipped here is called Girijatmaja. The name is implies as "mountain-born" or as "Atmaja of Girija", the son of Parvati. The features of the Ganesha idol, seen on the back wall of the cave, are the least distinct when compared to the other Ashtavinayak temples. Though the temple faces the south, according to a local tradition,the deity faces north, with his back to his worshipper and his face visible on the other side of the mountain. It is said that the Peshwa rulers even tried to locate the face of Ganesha on the other side. Ganesha is seen with his trunk turned to the left side, facing east, with one of his eyes visible. The icon is covered with sindoor and is directly formed on the stone wall of the cave.
Like all Ashtavinayaka temples, the Ganesha is believed to be swayambhu (self-existent), a naturally occurring stone formation resembling an elephant-face
The word 'lena' means a cave and the suffix 'adri' in Sanskrit means a mountain.Shri Girijatmaj Lenyadri Ganapati is the only Ganesh Temple which is carved in caves. Mytholgy says that when the Pandavas were living in exile , they sculptured these caves in just one night. There are 28 caves here, stretching from east to west. The temple occupies the complete 7th cave which gives a broad look to the temple.These caves became dwelling for Buddhist monks, mostly with meditation cells, an unpillared hall with 20 cells with varying dimensions. 307 steps built by devotees in stone masonry over eight flights lead to the entrance. The veranda has six pillars and two half-pillars, that support the beams and rafters.
The stairs at the beginning are a bit higher to climb. Dolis or palkhis are available for the elderly. There are plenty of monkeys on the way. Excercise caution as these monkeys are naughty and tend to grab any food items you may have at your hand.
The temple and the neighbouring caves are in maintained by the Archaeology Department of India. This temple is preserved as it was carved in the early times.
The hall is large, can be entered by a central door, under a pillared veranda. The hall is 17.37 metres (57.0 ft) long; 15.54 metres (51.0 ft) wide and 3.38 metres (11.1 ft) high. There are 2 windows on either side of the entrance. The hall is treated now as a sabha mandapa ("assembly hall") of the Ganesha temple. To maintain and preserve the archeological values, there is no electricity here. Temple is so constructed that natural light falls in to the temple.
Do not miss to buy the locally harvested grapes, black raisins, Sapottas ( Chikus) at the base of the mountains.
Emperor Sivaji was born at a distance of 4-5 kms from here at a place called Shivneri.
Temple Timings The temple is open from 5:00 AM till 8:00 pm. Since there are no electrical lights, it is better to descend by sun set.
Panchamrut pooja is performed every day. The temple celebrates the Ganesh Chaturthi and Ganesh Jayanti in a grand scale.
1) State transport bus service available between Shivaji Nagar(Pune) to Junnar and a few buses to Lenyadri
2) If you are driving by your car ,it is Chakan – Rajgurunagar – Manchar – Narayangaon - Junnar - Lenyadri.
As per my experience,the best alternative is to take a group travel to Ashta Vinayaka yatra from reputed travels in Pune or Mumbai.