Pandharpur: A Spiritual Odyssey

Overview of Pandharpur and the Vithoba Temple

Pandharpur, the spiritual heart of Maharashtra, hosts the Vithoba Temple, a sacred site for Hindus dedicated to Lord Vithoba and his consort Rukmini. Rich in history, the temple is the center of the Varkari sect’s faith, featuring exquisite Maratha and Dravidian architectural styles. Each year, the Ashadhi Ekadashi festival sees millions of pilgrims participating in the Wari, a vibrant procession of faith from across Maharashtra.

Pandharpur Temple

Image source – Adobe stock

Story of Vithoba

The story of Lord Vitthal, also known as Vithoba, and his standing in Pandharpur is rooted in a legend involving his devotee, Pundalik. According to tradition, Pundalik was initially selfish but transformed into a devoted son after a pilgrimage. When Lord Krishna came to visit him, Pundalik was busy serving his elderly parents. He threw a brick outside for Lord Krishna to stand on while he finished his duties. Touched by Pundalik’s devotion to his parents, Krishna waited on the brick until Pundalik could attend to him. This brick is where the idol of Vitthal now stands in Pandharpur, symbolizing his readiness to support his devotees and the importance of duty towards one’s parents.

Vitthal Inside the Temple

Image Source ( VItthal Rukmini Mandir Samiti,Pandharpur ) 

Image Source ( VItthal Rukmini Mandir Samiti,Pandharpur )

Spiritual Significance

The Vithoba Temple is a cornerstone of the Bhakti movement, emphasizing personal devotion over ritualistic practices. The unique idol of Vithoba stands on a brick, symbolizing humility and the divine’s readiness to assist devotees. This temple not only facilitates personal spiritual journeys but also fosters a strong sense of community among its pilgrims through collective worship and singing.

Annual Event

Ashadhi Ekadashi: Celebrated on the 11th day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashadha (June/July). The specific date varies each year.

Monthly Event

Ekadashi: Observed twice a month on the 11th day of both the waxing and waning phases of the moon.

Vitthal Rukmai

Image source – Adobe stock


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​​Palkhi Sohla, the esteemed annual pilgrimage in Maharashtra, brings together thousands of Varkaris (devotees) in a vibrant expression of faith toward Lord Vithoba, often held around late June or early July, culminating on the auspicious day of Ashadhi Ekadashi.

Participants, dressed in traditional white attire with saffron turbans and flags, embark on a sacred journey from the Sant Tukaram temple at Dehu and Sant Dyaneshwar Maharaj temple in Alandi  to the Vithoba temple in Pandharpur, traversing about 250 kilometers chanting “Vitthal Vitthal”.

Both the Palkhi met in Pune and start the journey together to Pandharpur.This pilgrimage is not just a religious observance but a cultural phenomenon that binds communities through chants, dances, and collective devotion.

Palki Dive Ghat

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi From Alandi At Dive Ghat, Pune

The Ringan ceremony involves a horse carrying the holy padukas (sandals) of the saint in a symbolic dance. This horse, galloping around a sacred tulsi plant or amid the crowd, symbolizes the saint’s guiding spirit and energy leading the pilgrims. This ritual is seen as a dynamic expression of the deity’s presence, energizing and blessing the devotees on their spiritual pilgrimage

During this journey, the rhythmic sounds of devotional songs and the sight of palanquins carrying the padukas (sacred sandals) of saints like Dnyaneshwar maharaj and Tukaram maharaj infuse the pilgrimage with a deep spiritual resonance. The procession acts as a mobile festival of faith, reinforcing spiritual and social harmony among the participants. It represents the devotees’ metaphorical journey towards self-realization and divine connection, emphasizing the virtues of humility, service, and devotion embedded in the teachings of the Varkaris.

Arrival and Access

By Air: The nearest airport is Pune International Airport, approximately 210 km from Pandharpur.

By Train: Pandharpur Railway Station is well-connected to major cities like Mumbai, Pune , and Solapur and Kolhapur.

By Bus: State transport and private buses run frequently from Mumbai ( 356 kms), Pune ( 210 kms) , Solapur ( 72 kms) and Kolhapur ( 184 kms).

By Taxi: Taxis and auto-rickshaws are readily available from the railway station and bus stand..,+Maharashtra/@17.6690604,75.3098149,15z?entry=ttu


Entry to the temple is generally free, with special darshan passes available for a smoother experience on the website.

Ample parking is available with nominal fees.

Special Poojas and Rituals

Daily rituals such as Kakad Aarti and Madhyan Aarti mark the temple’s spiritual routine, with special services available for a fee.

The Ekadashi Pooja is a highlight, drawing devotees for all-day prayers.

Special Poojas and Rituals

  • Daily Poojas:
  • Kakad Aarti: 3:30 AM
  • Madhyan Aarti: 11:00 AM
  • Dhoop Aarti: 6:30 PM
  • Shej Aarti: 10:00 PM
  • Ekadashi Pooja: Throughout the day on every Ekadashi
  • Abhishek: 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM

Rates for Special Poojas:

  • Kakad Aarti: ₹500
  • Madhyan Aarti: ₹500
  • Dhoop Aarti: ₹500
  • Shej Aarti: ₹500
  • Ekadashi Pooja: ₹1000
  • Abhishek: ₹2000


Various accommodations are available from budget dharamshalas to more comfortable guesthouses.

Advance booking is advisable, especially during peak festival periods.

  • Guest Houses: ₹500 to ₹2000 per night
  • Dharamshalas: ₹200 to ₹500 per night
  • Booking: Online and telephone booking options are available. On-site booking subject to availability.

Office address and Contact details:

Address: Shri Vitthal Rukmini Mandir Samiti, Near Vitthal Mandir, Pandharpur, Maharashtra, India.

  • Temple Timings: 4:00 AM to 11:00 PM, with extended hours on festival days.
  • Contact: Temple Office – (02186) 224466,
  • Bhakta Nivas – (02186) 228888

Online Services

For convenience, poojas, darshan tickets, and donations can be booked through the temple’s website –

Dress Code and Etiquette

Visitors are expected to adhere to a modest dress code, with traditional attire recommended. Electronic gadgets are generally restricted within the temple premises.

Additional Facilities

The temple is equipped with facilities for the physically handicapped, including ramps and elevators, ensuring accessibility for all devotees.

Prasad Services

The temple offers meals as prasad during specific times, with options to purchase carry-home prasad, enriching your spiritual and cultural experience.

Nearby Attractions

  • Shri Vitthal Rukmini temple
  • Shri Pundalik temple
  • Shri Vishnupad temple
  • Velapur
  • Bhuikot Fort
  • Naldurg Fort

Electronic Gadgets and Photography

Gadgets: Mobile phones, cameras, and other electronic devices are generally not allowed inside the temple. Cloakroom facilities are available.

Photography: Not permitted inside the temple.

Photography may be allowed in outer premises, subject to temple authorities’ guidelines.

Embrace Local Culture and Shopping

The local market near the temple offers religious paraphernalia, local handicrafts, and unique artifacts. Ensure authenticity and negotiate prices to get the best deals.

Engage Respectfully with Locals

Interacting with the local populace provides insights into the spiritual and cultural significance of Pandharpur. Approach these interactions with openness and respect to enrich your experience.

FAQs for a Fulfilling Journey

Include practical information about temple timings, special pooja schedules, and details on how to participate in the Palkhi Sohala. Knowing these details helps in planning a more engaging visit.

Beyond the Temple Visit

Explore nearby spiritual sites like the Rukmini Temple and other historical places which reflect the rich tapestry of Marathi culture and devotion.

Creating Memorable Experiences

To make your visit truly unforgettable, participate in the local rituals, enjoy the spiritual chants, and soak in the serene atmosphere of Pandharpur.

“ || Pundalik Varde Hari Vitthal ||

|| Shri Dyandev Tukaram || ”

Pandharinath Maharaj ki Jai ..!