The natural hot springs of Ganeshpuri that attract visitors all through the year are a mere 70kms from Bandra, Mumbai. A couple of kms from Ganeshpuri you have the famed Vajreshwari Devi temple.
Legend has it that Sage Vashist did a yagna to propitiate Lord Ganesh here, hence the name ‘Ganeshpuri’. However, it was Bhagwan Nityananda who transformed what was dense forestland inhabited by a few adivasis into a spiritual centre for all those seeking enlightenment.
The Gurudev Sidha Peeth established by Bhagwan's disciple Baba Muktananda is the primary reason for the large influx of foreigners to Ganeshpuri. Spread over an area of 75 acres is the famous spiritual institute, Shri Gurudev Ashram or Gurudev Siddha Peeth. This institute was founded by Swami Nityananda in 1949. In 1956, Swami Muktananda settled there permanently and the Ashram began to grow. Swami Muktananda named it Shree Gurudev Ashram in memory of his guru who attained Mahasamadhi in August 1961. Around the Ashram is a new township set up for the resettlement of Adivasis or Warli tribe, the local inhabitants. Swami Nityananda's Samadhi, the Bhimeshwar Ganesh Temples are very close to the Ashram.
To reach there, take a suburban train to Vasai or Virar, and then take the local State Transport (ST) bus, which plies throughout the day. Alternatively, you can drive down the Western Express Highway and just after Virar; take a right to go to Ganeshpuri and Vajreshwari.
The Vajreshwari temple is a relic of Maratha glory. Chimaji Appa, the younger brother of Peshwa Bajirao I, got it built after the Marathas conquered the Bassein fort in 1739.
The temple stands atop a hillock by the road. The legend goes that Parshurama had performed a mahayajna at Vajreshwari and the hills of volcanic ash in the area are its residue.
A flight of 52 steps leads up to the temple. However if you are driving down, ignore the ‘please park here’ pleas of the flower sellers and follow the ‘Parking’ signs put up by the authorities and for a fee of Rs.10/- you can park halfway up the temple.
The temple is dedicated to goddess Vajreshwari but the sanctum also has idols of goddess Renuka and goddess Kalika on either side of the main Vajreshwari idol. Mention must be made here of the extra courteous security personnel and the priests at the temple. Whenever a senior citizen enters, the security personnel are at hand to lead them to the sanctum sanctorum and the priests will put on additional lamps to ensure that the idols are visible to the aged. All this with a true sense of ‘service’ and they do not expect any monetary gratification.
Smaller idols of Ganesha and other gods and goddesses are carved in the pillars and walls of the forecourt.
Photography is prohibited in the Gurudev Sidha Peeth at Ganeshpuri and in the temple at Vajreshwari.