Pandharpur: The Abode of Lord Vithal
Pandharpur is located in Maharshtra and many devotees of Lord Vitthal visit this sanctum every day and on some special occasions.
Legend has that Lord Vithal once visited Pundalik, an ardent devotee of Vitthal. However Pundalik was busy in serving his parents. As Pundalik was busy, he threw a brick that was handy in that direction of his divine visitor. He asked him to stand on the brick. Later Pundalik forgot all about his visitor and remained absorbed in his own work. Veet in Marathi means brick and that is how the word Vitthal came into existence. Vitthal would not leave without his permission and thus has been standing on the brick ever since. The river Bhima gets the name Chandrabagha as the Moon God, Chandra, once bathed in its waters to get rid of his sins. This river is also called so because of its crescent shape here. The Vitthal Temple, said to be two million year old, has a scripture that dates back to 1195. Devotees rub their back in the belief that they will be exempted from 84 lakhs births. The roof and the stone pillars of the Vitthal temple have exquisite carvings. The main entrance is known as the Mahadwar. The Shrine of Saint Namdeo, Lord Vitthal’s ardent devotee has his shrine on the first step of the entrance. This is called as Namdeo Payari(step). To pay tribute to Namdeo’s saintly devotion, it is a custom not to touch it with the one’s feet, but to worship it. The newly constructed Darshan Mandap, opposite the main temple entrance, can accommodate 80,000 devotees during the Vari (procession). Inside the temple, there is another huge hall known as the Solkhambi Mandap. It is an imposing 16 pillared stone structure, constructed in 1802. All the pillars have exquisite carvings, while the inner one known as Garuda Khamb, and has been worked in Silver.
As per tradition, embrace this pillar before praying to the lord. This temple is said to be about 2,000 years old and is better kept. The minute devotees enter the temple, they are pursued by Pujaris to part with money and perform pujas, a test of one’s nerves. But the black sandstone idol of Lord Vitthal and Rukmini are truly enchanting. During the Vari, the temple remains open for 24 hours, for the god is believed to remain awake for his devotees. In fact, after the Vari is over, the temple is washed with water and the idols are given the diet of spices and sugar, and a new set of clothes, since they are said to be tired after a hectic day! During Navaratri and Dussehera, the deities are adorned with new clothes. Both vithal and Rukmini have an exquisite array of jewelery that includes gold, pearls and the navratnas. There is a warm water spring outside the temple and people wash there feet in it before entering it. Outside the temple there is a small stone boat. It is approximately 3ft by 2ft, too heavy to lift with bare hands. But when put it in water it actually floats. One legend says that Sant Tukaram sang some abhangs, which made it float.
The timings of the temple are 4:00 AM to 7:00 PM and it remains open for 24 hours during Vari. Take a ferry across the river to Gopalpur , where Lord Krishna used to graze cattle. It is a small centuries old stone temple. Also on the other bank is the ISCKON temple, a quiet place to pray. An old stone temple to Mhasoba also stands on the opposite of the Chandrabhaga. These temples are about half a kilometer from one another, and the ferry stops at each.
There are also good numbers of budget as well as luxury Hotels in Pandharpur which offers excellent accommodation to the travelers. Comfort and luxury are assured to make the entire tour simply the most cherished experience. Besides this, the restaurants at Hotel Aishwarya and Hotel shamiana are some of the best known accommodations amongst the chain of Pandharpur hotels. During some spare time, the travelers can think of visiting other tourist destinations lying a few kilometers from Pandharpur. Pandharpur is definitely the place pulsating with great spiritual energy. The pilgrims who want to get their wishes fulfilled and relieve themselves from all sins must visit the Lord Vithal Temple. Besides this, the travelers who wish visit Pandharpur can also avail Pandharpur Tour Packages through an online booking provided Kiomoi.