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Pandharpur – Home to the Lord standing arms akimbo

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One look at the residing deity of Pandharpur, Lord Vitthal, will give you the impression that he’s been waiting for you a long time, standing with his arms akimbo. Situated by the banks of River Bhima in Solapur, Pandharpur is a pilgrimage city that is also the main centre of worship of Lord Vitthal. The Vithoba Temple in Pandharpur attracts a large number of devotees, especially during the main yatra, aka wari, in June-July. Lord Vitthal, also known by names like Vithoba, Pandurang and Pandharinath is a form of Lord Krishna, and Rukmini or Rakhumai is the consort of Lord Vitthal. Here’s a low-down on the yatra and architecture of the Vithoba Temple

The Wari
The Pandharpur Wari is famous all over Maharashtra and is taken up by Vitthal devotees, known as Varkaris, every year in honour of the deity. These devotees walk all the way from their villages to Pandharpur carrying the footprints etched in stone of saints Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram. The pilgrimage is much more than just the worshipping of Lord Vitthal. During the wari, lots of people participate in donating food to the poor and needy, medical help and rural infrastructure work. The wari is organized very well wherein the wari sets out at 6 am and is alerted with a tutari, a wind instrument. The tutari is blown thrice to alert the Warkaris; at the first sound all the Warkaris get ready to leave, at the second sound the Warkaris stand in the proper designated sequence, and at the third signal the Warkaris start walking.

The Architecture
The main entrance of the temple faces the River Bhima, popularly known as Chandrabhaga. The samadhis of saints Chokhamela and Namdev are at the entrance. Most devotees pay homage to the saints before entering the main temple. There’s also a quaint Ganesh shrine inside the temple. A small hall for prayers and bhajans and small shrines for Garuda and Hanuman can be found in the same hall. The best experience to be had in Pandharpur is the “kakad aarti” followed by the “panchamrita snaan” of Lord Vitthal. The aarti is performed around 3 am to awaken the Lord and then the idol is bathed in 5 sweet substances like honey and milk. This sight is one of the most holy and soothing experiences that you will probably have in Pandharpur. The sight of the dark God standing arms akimbo on a brick is truly surreal and mesmerizing.

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Pandharpur is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Hindus in Maharashtra. A visit here is sure to help you get acquainted with the local Maharashtrian culture and heritage of the state.

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Nikita is a total and complete bookworm. She’s also a writer and a dreamer who dreams of travelling far and wide. Her other very important dream is to one day, very soon, write books for children.

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