PANDHARPUR is a most popular pilgrimage city on the banks of the Bhima River in Sholapur District, Maharashtra, India.  It has an average elevation of 1,520ft.

Pandharpur, alternatively known as CHANDRABHAGA because of its half-moon like shape, is a city named after a great merchant, PUNDALIK, who achieved self-realization here.  Pandharpur, also known as PANDHARI, hosts the renowned  VITTHALA TEMPLE.  Vithoba, Panduranga and Pandharinath are the popular alternate names of the Deity, VITTHALA, who is regarded in Hinduism as a form of Lord Krishna.  Lord Krishna is considered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  RUKMINI is Vitthala’s consort in the Temple.

Pandharpur Rukmini

The worship of Vitthala is based mainly on the contents of the Puranas and the contributions of the Vaishnav Saints of Maharashtra and Karnataka, during the 13th through the 17th centuries.  The Pandharpur Temple covers a large area and has six gates.  The eastern gate is known as NAMDEV GATE.

Pandharpur Vittala

Pandharpur is the centre of the BHAKTI Movement.  For centuries, every year, just before the rains, thousands of pilgrims known as VARKARI, followers of HARIPATH ( path of God who is Krishna – Vishnu) travel long distances from rural Maharashtra and Karnataka to Pandharpur.

Pandharpur Dindi

The pilgrimage, known as DINDI, is a sight to behold, with long lines of fluttering flags against the summer sky, majestic flower-bedecked bullock carts and palanquins, men dressed in white, anointed with sandal paste, wearing strings of tulsi beads, carrying lutes and cymbals, singing traditional songs, and women in colourful nine yard saris balancing tulsi plants on their head in brass pots.  They travel to pay obeisance to Krishna known locally as Pandurange Vitthala.  Devotees affectionately address him as —VITTHA – AI, which means Mother Krishna, attributing to him boundless maternal wisdom, bypassing all gender rigidities.

Pandharpur temple

The word VITTHALA has a mysterious etymology.  Based on VIT, which is Marathi for “brick” on which he stands.  It is even more confusing that a dark-complexioned Krishna is called PANDURANGA, the “fair-complexioned”.  What matters to the devotees, is that Krishna came to this region to meet a devotee called PUNDALIK who was too busy taking care of his old parents to turn around and pay attention to his Divine Guest.  So, he pushed a brick in Krishna’s direction and told him to wait while he completed his duties.  So Krishna waited, arms akimbo, and is still waiting, for the archetypal devotee to turn around.  Thus, through temporal household drama, the lofty divine connects with the devotee.

———–Inputs by Devdutt Pattanaik at  

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