Vithoba Temple, Pandharpur: The Centre of all Vithoba Devotees in Maharashtra (2021)
The Vithoba Temple is in Pandharpur in Maharashtra. It is also famously known as Vitthal- Rakhumai temple. It is a place of tourist interest as well as a religious and historically important place. This Vitthal-Rakhumai temple at Pandharpur is the center of all Vithoba worship.
About Vithoba Temple:
According to legend, a young man, Pundalik, changes over a new leaf and stops ill-treating his parents after having a divine vision. So deep is his devotion to his parents, that he once had Lord Krishna stand outside the door, giving him a mere brick to stand on. When Lord Krishna, of whom Lord Vithoba is a form, sees that the man was performing the duties of a son, he is impressed and grants his wish of Lord Krishna staying back on Earth, as the idol of Lord Vithoba. Therefore, you will see that most idols of Lord Vithoba are in the standing and waiting positions.
The Vithoba Temple Experience
The Vithoba Temple in Pandharpur is a mesmerizing sight to look at, with the top outer part of the dome having several sculptures and carvings of Hindu deities. The statues are a story unto themselves, with the idols of Krishna and Rukmani holding hands encircling the entire dome.
On the way, you will see a small Ganesha temple, which has a metal idol of Lord Ganesha. Near the Vithoba temple is a lake with tombs of some of the most famous personalities in Maharashtra, the tombs of Sant Tukaram, Sati Sakkubai are in this area. All the structures here have a unique architecture that captures your imagination. During the rains, these tombs and structures are surrounded by water.
Around the Vitthal temple, you will see several old temples. There is a lot of commercial activity around the Vithoba Temple in Pandharpur as well. These shops sell you articles that you can use for darshan as well as objects that you can use as mementos of your visit to the Vithoba temple in Tuljapur. You will see a Shiva Temple, complete with the Nandi idol outside the main shrine.
If you have the time, you should spend a whole day at the Temple and look at the fascinating rituals throughout the day, right from the first aarti at around 3:30 in the morning.
Even though the place is popular, it is maintained well, and you have a good experience, visiting the Vithoba Temple in all its glory.
For example, one local ritual is to hold ears and jump a couple of times, for those who have sinned. Then, there is a pillar here, which devotees hug, to ask for forgiveness for their sins.
The Vithoba Temple area is so big that you can spend the whole afternoon and evening, visiting all the temples in the vicinity. Pandharpur is mostly a place of religious importance, so you do not have many other places to visit. However, the more time you spend in this area, the calmer and serenity you experience. It’s a great experience for anyone who lives in the urban area and is looking to spend some time unwinding themselves.
When you are visiting the Vithoba Temple in Pandharpur, keep in mind that you are visiting the rural interiors of Maharashtra, so, dress conservatively. There might be restrictions on photography or videography within the Temple premises. Another aspect to keep in mind is the weather. The weather in rural Maharashtra is punishing. Try to wrap up your temple outing by late afternoon. It is best to remain indoors until the evening when the temperature subsides.
You will find many economically priced places to stay in Pandharpur, as this is a tourist location. However, you might not find hotels with all the modern amenities and services, and that is something that you might need to adjust with.
Also, you can book your stay online, but make sure that you read the terms and conditions. Some hotels might not allow bachelors to stay, others might not allow unmarried couples to stay and yet others will not allow pets. There is absolutely nothing you can do about this once you have reached the hotel, so make sure you clear all of this first.
How To Reach Vithoba Temple in Pandharpur
Pandharpur is a tourist location and well connected throughout India. There is no airport in Pandharpur, and the nearest airport is in Pune. However, Pandharpur to Pune is a four-hour drive. The distance between Mumbai and Pandharpur is around 400 km as well, so the road trip from Mumbai to Pandharpur would be around four hours.