Shri Siddhivinayak offers an important opportunity for anyone who’s interested in seeing inside a Hindu temple and paying respect to one of Hinduism’s most revered Gods. While many Hindu temples only allow Hindus to enter, thereby adding to the religion’s mystery, this temple welcomes everyone with its open door policy. Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ganesh. It is located in Prabhadevi, Mumbai, Maharashtra. It was originally built by Laxman Vithu and Deubai Patil on November 19, 1801. Though it is one of the richest temples in Mumbai, the current generation of Patil is staying in state of despair near the temple.
The temple has a small mandap (hall) with the shrine for Siddhi Vinayak (“Ganesh who grants your wish”). The wooden doors to the sanctum are carved with images of the Ashtavinayak (the eight manifestations of Ganesh in Maharashtra). The inner roof of the sanctum is plated with gold, and the central statue is of Ganesh. In the periphery, there is a Hanuman temple as well.
Consecrated on 19 November 1801, the original structure of the Siddhivinayak Temple was a small 3.6 m x 3.6 m square brick structure with a dome-shaped brick sikhara. The temple was built by the contractor Laxman Vithu Patil. The building was funded by a rich Agri woman named Deubai Patil. Childless, Deaubai built the temple so that the Lord should grant children to other barren women. Ramakrishna Jambhekar Maharaj, a disciple of the Hindu saint Akkalkot Swami Samarth, buried two divine idols in the front of the presiding deity of the temple on the orders on his guru. As prophesied by Swami Samarth, after 21 years after the burial of the icons, a mandar tree grew at that spot with a svayambhu Ganesha in its branches.
The 2550 sq m temple complex had two 3.6 m Deepamalas, a rest house and living quarters for the caretaker. It had an adjoining lake 30 x 40 sq. m. in size on the eastern and southern side of the temple. The lake, dug by Nardulla in the early 19th century to counter the scarcity of water, was filled up in the later years and the land is now not part of the temple complex. Around 1952, a small Hanuman shrine was built in the temple complex for the Hanuman icon that was found during the road extension project of Sayani Road near Elphinstone Road. In the 1950s and 60s, the fame of the temple spread and a significant number of devotees began visiting. However, in the same period, the owner of the plot sold some of the temple land, reducing the complex area. After 1975, the number of devotees increased dramatically.
The Siddhivinayak temple receives donations of around Rupee 100-150 million every year, which makes it Mumbai city’s richest temple trust. In 2004, the Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust, which operates the temple, was accused of mismanaging donations. Consequently the Bombay High Court appointed a committee headed by retired judge V P Tipnis to scrutinize the trust’s donations and probe the allegations. The committee reported that, “The most shocking aspect of the matter is that there is no method or principle followed for particular institutions. The only criteria for selection was recommendation or reference by trustees or the minister or a political heavy-weight, generally belonging to ruling party”.
In 2006 the Bombay High Court directed the state government, the Siddhivinayak Temple Trust and the petitioner Keval Semlani to prepare “suggestive guidelines” for using the temple’s trust funds.