Siddhivinayak worshipped in Srinagar! Did you know about the Ganpatyar temple of Kashmir valley?

NewsBharati    28-Apr-2021   
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The 200 years old heritage is an important monument for the Hindu community from Kashmir and is believed to be visited by almost 25 thousand Hindus until the the Kashmiri Pandit Holocaust happened in 1990. After that, the number of pilgrims visiting the temple has fallen drastically which only quite recently has started to at least rise a little. Kashi Mathadhipati Shrimad Samyamindra Swamiji's visit to the Ganpatyar temple, in order to perform rituals and puja has lead to an auspicious beginning for Hindus to reestablish their faith by visiting Srinagar's Ganpatyar temple. In fact Swamiji becomes the first Saraswat to visit the valley ever since the holocaust.

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Historically as well as mythologically, the Ganpatyar temple is a significant place but in today's time there are not many people who are aware of its legacy. It is worth noting that even before the Kashmiri Pandit Holocaust of the 1990 that significantly dropped the pilgrims visiting the temple, there had been several Islamic invasions through time that attempted to destroy the temple but the Ganpati idol has survived through all the critical times. There are several tales which successfully explain the significance of the idol, which thus, makes the temple an important spot on the Hindu pilgrim circuit of Kashmir.
Mythologically speaking, the temple is believed to be the same spot where where Lord Ganesha had assured Sage Kashyap about the settling of people from other races apart from Nagas, Pischas and Yakshas, who till then were the only inhabitants of the valley. In case of History as well, this detail from the Hindu myths remains to be an important source of information regarding the demographics of Kashmir. The Ganpatyar Temple is situated on the bank of the sacred river of Vitasta, that is today more popularly known as 'Jhelum'. The river bank in Kashmiri is known as 'Badiyar'.
Historically, the place finds it mention not only in Indian legends but also in the records of Foreign travelers, thus once again, explaining the significance of the place. Interestingly the Chinese traveller, Hsüan-tsang, who is believed to be the great Chinese Buddhist Monk, has also lived in Ganpatyar’s Vihar. The ancient Buddhist texts suggest that there was a Buddhist Monastery as well, besides the ancient temple, but clearly the monastery couldn't make it through time whereas the Siddhivinayak still remains to be there.

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Another important belief that has been historically backed by evidence about an attempt to end the Hindu legacy from the valley is that during the Afghan Durrani rule in the 1760's the Siddhivinayak idol was thrown into the Jhelum river. However, later after almost a century in the 1850's the Siddhivinayak idol was lifted from the Jhelum river and was reinstalled in the temple. The Siddhivinayak idol at Srinagar's Ganpatyar temple is believed to be one of the most ancient Ganpati idols and thus earlier pilgrims who would visit Kashmir for any religious visit were bound to first pay their tributes at the ancient Ganpatyar temple in Srinagar.
 Kashi Mathadhipati Shripad Samyamindra Swamiji's recent visit to the temple is highly significant from the point of view of restoration of Hindu beliefs and faith in the valley after decades of abandoning of the place by the Kashmiri Pandits followed after the mass violence of 1990. The large number of pilgrims that was around 25 thousand has dwindled over the years. But, with Swamiji's visit this should be considered as a new beginning for Hindus to reestablish the lost faith in the valley.
If the Siddhivinayak idol, the god who takes care of any obstacles in the way to achieve goodwill, himself got reinstalled in the temple even after a huge period of around a century while the idol was lying in the Jhelum river, then the people certainly shouldn't give up on their faith and celebrate the beginning of a new era, by the means of Swamiji's puja at the Ganpatyar temple, that happens to be the first puja done by a Saraswat brahmin in the Kashmir valley after decades.