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Mahavinayak temple is a major center of pilgrimage and one of the oldest Ganesha temples in Orissa. In Orissa there are five different Kshetras or religious centers celebrated for these Pancha Devata (Five God)viz: Vinayaka or Ganesh kshetra at Mahavinayak hills in the district of Jajpur, Vishnu or Sankha (the attributes in the hands of Lord Vishnu) Kshetra at Puri, Shiva or Ekamra Kshetra at Bhubaneswar, Durga or Viraja Kshetra at Jajpur or Yajanapur. Mahavinayak enshrines the five god heads in one Lingam. It is a place of worship for Ganapati.
Since Ganapati or Vianyak is revered here so its name is 'Mahavianyak'. The speciality of Mahavinayak temple is that the Pancha Devata [five Gods] 'Shiva','Vishnu','Durga','Sun' and 'Ganapati' are worshipped as a single deity in a single sanctum sanctorum. In no other Hindu temples such tradition of worship is present.
Location of the place
There is no revenue village/area as Chandikhole and the place is so named after Goddess "Chandi" worshipped by late monk Baba Bhairabananda Bramhachari who established the deity of Maa Chandi in one of the adjoining hills of Barunei full of dense forest and ferrocious animals in 1932. The revenue village is in Darpani under Darpan ex-estate in Jajpur district, Orissa. Chandikhole has special position in Orissa and its people and who can forget the line "Manda pitha gol gol chal jiba Chandikhole" and Chandikhole Peda made out of Khoya (skimmed thickened milk).
It is 40 km north to Cuttack besides National Highway (NH 5) and South Eastern Railway and 4 km away from NH towards west via Sukinda-Paradip Expressway and also 70 km away from state capital Bhubaneswar in the same NH 5. The nearest bus stop is at Chandikhole chhak(4 km) and the nearest railway station is at Dhanmandal and Haridaspur both 6 km distant with auto rickshaw facility throughout.The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar.
One long hill of the Eastern Ghat mountain ranges named Barunei or Baruna or Barunabanta adjoining 7 hills stretches from southeastern railway line up to Darpanigarh in east-west direction with beautiful green covering full of perennial source of water(spring) in side it from bottom to the middle of the hill. The mountain looks like a Sleeping Elephant.
This place is also included in connection of "Golden triangle pilgrimage plan" such as Rantagiri-Lalitgiri (Buddhist Sculpture centers), Chatia Bata and Chandikhole. The Govt of India is assisting for their improvement. In first adjoining foothill base, there is the temple of Goddess Chandi and in the second foothill base there is the famous temple of Mahavinayak. In both the places there are perennial springs(named Golden Spring) with pucca swimming ponds for bathing. Just at the middle of the hill and just above Mahavinayak temple there is another temple dedicated to Maa Banadurga with the miracle that the perennial source of water/spring is also present there at a height of 100 meters. One can go there using the steps(around 120) and the road facility to the temple is under construction.
It is a place of both mythological and historical importance. This sculpture (i.e. the Mahavinayak temple) has been constructed by the kings of Keshari Dynasty of Orissa during the 12th century and later it became the centre of worship of Darpan King.
Rati Devi, the wife of Kamadev worshipped here for the release of her husband from the curse of Lord Shiva for which while she was offering her prayer to Lord Ganesh simultaneously five hands were stretched out towards her to receive her offer and she,being in dilemma, when prayed to Bramha, Bramha clarified that five Gods named Ganesh,Sun,Vishnu,Shiva and Durga had been over pleased with her prayer and at a time they had stretched their hand to receive her offer. So Kamadev was released thereafter and from the very day five Gods unitedly in one granite stone with huge size had emerged from the earth there.
This place is also related to Mahabharat legends. The Baruna hill area (i.e. The Barunabanta) was the capital of Yudhistir. From this place he left for the heaven by making royal charges of his empire to a teli (an oilman whom he saw first before dawn) who later became the king and his palace was named as Teligarh and the remaining of his palace is still seen just at the opposite side of the hill and the temple. The rehearsal place of Bhima is still known as "Bhima khala". During the Mahabharat battle, mother Kunti also offered one lakh swarna Champa flowers (Golden Champa Flowers) to Lord Shiva from this place for the victory of her sons to fulfill her wish.
As per another legend the detached head of Lord Ganesha fell at this place and so the place is named as Vinayak Kshetra.
Moreover, the importance of the place came to light and became popular when a cowherd boy discovered some strange sight of secretion and flowing of milk from the nipples of a calfless cow to offer feeding to the undiscovered deity. Then it became famous gradually and it claimed to be one of the best holy places not only of Orissa but also in the pilgrimage map of India as Five Gods congregated as one stonic form is unique.
Many festivals such as Shiva ratri, Makar Sankranti, Raja are celebrated here. Shiva Ratri is celebrated for 5 days with Yagna and Homa every year with pomp and glory.Lot of people come on each Monday and Sankranti to offer their prayers. In the month of Shravana, lot of Shiva devotees offer the holy river water to fulfill their wishes.
Effect on tourism
This place has a special place in the tourism map of Orissa particularly for Shaivas(worshipper of Lord Shiva). It is a perfect picnic spot for trekkers and religious people with its densely wooded hills and sylvan spring that flows perennially through its green glades. One can reach Chandi temple through forest route from Mahavinayak temple.Its natural beauty attracts many tourist from nearby places and neighbouring states during winter and summer season. Both lodging and temple boarding facilities are available for pilgrims to stay. It is maintained by The Endowment Commissioner of Orissa with one Trustee board.
In fine, the panoramic view of the adjoined seven hills Barunei with green natural forest covering full of wild animals, its perennial springs, serenity and holiness of both Shrines with the morning and evening hymns full of devotional musical sounds, its herd of naughty monkeys snatching Bhoga(Prasadam) from the visitors inculcates the sense of devotion, sacredness and enjoyment for some moment. Their mind being detached from the hurly burly of this terrestrial life tends towards heaven to acquire heavenly bliss and above all the visit of the place leaves an indelible impression on the mind canvas of the visitors. May God Mahavinayak and Goddess Chandi bless all.
Adjacent historical places
Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri & Udayagiri : The three Boudh Vihars are at a distance of 70 km from Cuttack. The famous Buddhist Complex is said to be ancient seat of Puspagiri, the buddhist university of the 7th century A.D. Recently a statue of emperor Ashok is being discovered form Langudi hill. These places are within 35 km from mahavinayak.
Gokarneswara Temple: This Shiva temple is situated in Jaraka which is just 20 km away from Chandikhole on the bank of river Bramhani.
Biraja Temple: This temple was built in the 13th century. As per the name of Goddess Biraja this place is also known as Biraja Peetha. It is situated in the Jajpur town which is nearly 40 km from Chandikhole.
Chatia Bata Temple: This temple is another famous temple of Lord Jagganath on NH 5. It is situated around 20 km from chandikhole and 25 km from Cuttack. Lots of pilgrims from Orissa and nearby states visit this place daily.