Lord Ganesha i.e. the elephant headed God of wisdom, is one of the most beloved and zealously worshipped Gods all over the world. He is the one who is known to be the giver of happiness and the one who eradicates all sorrows. Also he is considered to be the first God to be worshipped during any Pooja or any other such godly ceremonies or rituals. Lord Ganesha has many names like Ganpati, Atharva, Chintamani, etc. One of the names of Lord Ganesha is Vinayaka. Worship of Lord Ganesh prevails all over the country but especially in Maharashtra Lord Ganesha is worshipped enthusiastically and on a very large scale. There is a famous set of eight Ganesha temples in Maharashtra which are to be worshipped in a certain sequence which are known as the Ashtavinayaka. The third in the sequence to visit the Ashtavinayaka Temples is the Ballaleshwar Temple located in Pali village in Pali in Raigad district. This temple has a glorious history and huge religious significance.
The original temple was in the form of a wooden structure and the year of its origin is unknown but the current temple was reconstructed and made of stone in the year- 1640 by Moreshwar Vitthal Sindkar. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Ganesha in the form Lord Ballaleshwar. The legend that follows the inception of the temple is that once in this village lived a couple Kalyan and Indumati who had a son named Ballal. The son was an ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha. Once he was playing with his friends and used stones for Lord Ganesha idols to play Pooja. The kids got so involved in the worship that they forgot everything else and did not even return home. The Worried parents of the other children went to Kalyan to complain about Ballal and angry Kalyan took a stick and went to look for Ballal. When he found Ballal, he hit him tied him to a tree taunting him to see if Lord Ganesha comes to his rescue. Lord Ganesha touched with the worship of the small boy came to help him disguised as a sage. But Ballal recognized him and worshipped him, pleased the Lord decided to grant him a wish in which he asked the Lord to stay at this place and bless everyone. Upon this, the Lord promised the kid that he will manifest there and also will put Ballal's name before his. Hence this place was known as Ballal- the boy and Eshwar- God.
This temple is a classic example of exceptional and well thought out architecture and designing. It is built in a particular shape which is of "Shri". The temple faces in the East direction and it is done intentionally as when the sun is said to rise, the rays of the sun fall on the idol. The temple is surrounded by two lakes and has two magnificent chancels, namely- The inner chancel and the outer chancel.
This is the only temple named after a devotee, where the name of the devotee is taken before the name of the deity.
All the Hindu festivals are celebrated here with gaiety, enthusiasm and in high spirits. Most popular amongst them are the Ganesh Chathurti, The Vinayaka Chathurti and the Ganesh Jayanti i.e. the birthday of Lord Ganesha. Also there are a huge number of devotees who throng to the temple the on Tuesdays as this day is considered to be auspicious for the worship of Lord Ganesha according to Hindu mythology.