By Narendra Deshmukh
THE ‘Varadavinayak’ Ganesh of Kelzar is known to grant all wishes and is therefore visited by devotees throughout the year. However, during the 10-day Ganeshotsav festival, the buzz of devotional activities reaches a crescendo.
Nestled in a picturesque hilly landscape just 52 km from Nagpur and 26 km from Wardha, the Kelzar temple is part of the country’s very ancient history. The place is mentioned in the ‘Vasishtha Puran’ and ‘Mahabharat’ and is known as the city of ‘Ekchakranagar’.
According to the Vasishtha Puran, it was the abode of Rishi Vasishtha, the guru of Lord Ram. The great Rishi, according to the Puran, had installed this idol of Lord Ganesh and worshiped him. It was a time before Lord Ram was born because after that the great Rishi left that place.
The scriptures also mention that the Wardha River originated around the same time. The Purana mentions Lord Ganesh of Kelzar as “Varad” Vinayak and hence the river, “Varada” according to the Purana, derives its name from the Lord.
The Mahabharat also mentions that the Pandavas, for a time, resided in Ekchakranagar where they killed the demon called Bakasur. The place is in the northwest direction near the Buddha Vihar, currently known as ‘Tondya Rakshas Maidan’ on the Wardha-Nagpur national road.
The hill where the temple of Lord Ganesha stands also has a large fort from the Vakataka period. The fort has five bastions. It had three large parkots or ramparts. Currently, a well, known as ‘Ganeshkund’, stands inside the second parkot. After the Vakatakas, Raja Pravarshan made the village his capital. When the Bhosale kings of Kolhapur came to Nagpur, they also stayed in Kelzar for some time.
The idol of Varad Vinayak Shri Ganesh in Kelzar is 4.6 feet tall while the base is 14 feet. In 1993, renovation work on the temple began. In 1994, just before Shivratri, a ‘Shivlinga’ was found while digging. The last chapter of Shivlila Amrut, has a mention of ‘Jyotirlinga’ in Ekchakdranagar.
The place is also of great significance to the Jains as an ancient idol of the 8th Tirthankar of the Jains Chandraprabhu Swami was found in the village. Experts believe the idol must be from the 8th century. Likewise, the Mahalaxmi Jyotirlinga discovered possibly over 2,000 years ago, experts say. All of this religious and historical significance of the village makes it a place of great reverence for people who flock to Lord Varad Vinayak Temple. Particularly during Ganeshotsav, location takes on greater importance. The current 10-day festivities are marked by devotional activities like ‘bhajans’ and ‘kirtans’ amidst the sound rhythms of tal and veena.
At daybreak, the temple priest Ram Murad Mishra bathes the idol. This year, MP Vishwanath Diagwahane will perform “Abhishek” on September 5.
Temple Trust Chairman Madhav Irutkar and Secretary Mahadev Kapse called on devotees to participate in the Anant Chadurashi program and ‘Mahaprasad’.