Mobile phones are not allowed inside temple hence one needs to surrender it opposite to the entrance by paying Rs.10 per piece. Though I have seen some peoples with their mobiles inside. Also one cannot predict how much time it will take for darshan, for us it took almost 3 hours.
After having darshan we left Tuljapur and around 6:00pm and joined Solapur - Auragabad state highway. Due to approaching winter season the sun sets early, hence at 6:30 pm the roads were looking like its past 9:00 pm. We drove on this two lane state highway towards NH9. The roads were having mad traffic, all time high beamers, wrong over takers and unpainted speed breakers which were mounted due to presence of villages.
Guys, please drive carefully on this road as there are lots of “Work in Progress” signs. At one moment there was “Heart in my mouth” situation when one Indica was coming from opposite side (overtaking) some truck and came in front of me directly in my lane. I flashed at him to move aside but in return he gave me continuous flashes till I moved aside and allowed him to pass. He was around 60-70KmpH speed. I safely stopped my car aside, came outside to cool down, drank some water and then again patiently started our journey.
Also make a note that there is almost nothing, not a single tapri throughout the road unless one “Sheetal Restaurant” which is near to NH9. The boards of this restaurant will start appearing prior to 8-10 Kms. Once you reach NH9, you need to take a turn towards Pune and start speeding towards “Mohol” exit. After taking exit at Mohol you will immediately come near MSRTC bus depot. Make sure you have some refreshment here as there is nothing till you reach Pandharpur.
The road is single lane and bit deserted, you won’t find a single soul in sight throughout until some villages are approached. The condition of the road is somewhat patchy, at few points there is no road and you have to do off-roading for few meters. You will come across many convoys of tractors loaded with sugarcane, playing loud music and off course very high beams. Keep going straight and when you see few village lights then assume that you are nearing to Pandharpur. You will see one or two hotels before Pandharpur bridge where you can have your meals.
Once you cross the bridge over Bhima river you will enter into Pandharpur. That day it was almost 10:30 pm when we entered into Pandharpur. So the plan of taking darshan was postponed to next day. The day when we were there was falling in “Karthik” month hence there were pilgrimages for “Karthik Ekadashi” and almost all hotels were full. Apart from hotels there are number of “Dharmashalas” and “Maths”. Due to family I was tilted towards hotel stay and hence kept on searching for it. At last after an hour found one decent hotel and retired for the day. Pandharpur Chala Pandhareesee javu l Rakhumadeveevara pahu ll
Dole nivatheela kana l Mana thethe samadhana ll
“Come on, let us go to Pandharpur, and see Lord Vittal the consort of Rakhumadevi. There our eyes and ears will get filled and mind will get peace.
When I approached the temple, there were few lines written on one banner as follows: Vittala tala Vittala dindi l Vittala thondeem uchchara ll
Vittala avaghya bhandavala l Vittala bola Vittala bola ll
Vittala nada Vittala bheda l Vittala chanda Vittala ll
Vittala sukha Vittala duhkha l Tukaya mukha Vittala ll
Saint Tukaram Maharaj says, “Vittala is the cymbal, Vittala is the tambura. Recite Vittala. Vittala is the wealth. Vittala is the music, Vittala is its variations. Vittala is the tune. Vittala is the pleasure. I chant Vittala. To be near Vittala is pleasure. To be away from him is pain.”
At Pandharpur, there is separate temples for Lord Vittal and Rakhumadevi. At the entrance there is “Namdeo Payari”
One cannot predict how much time it will take to get darshan. For us, it took almost 6 hours but the wait was worth as all the devotees are allowed to touch the lotus feet of the idol of Vithoba. I guess this is only one temple where you can touch the feet of lord. It feels blessed when you touch lotus feet of lord and all tiredness of standing in queue is lost in moments. After Vittal darshan we headed to Rakhumadevi mandir, there also you can touch the feet on goddesses.
When we came out it was almost 5:30pm and I decided not to do night driving. Hence, extended the stay for that day and planned to explore Pandharpur. We went to “Pundalik Mandir” situated on the banks of the Bhima river. Here the Bhima river is alternatively known as “Chandrabhaga” because of its half-moon-like shape.
View of Pundalik Mandir from the banks of Chandrabhaga
Pandharpur city still has Tanagas (Horse Cart) for commute apart from auto rickshaws. We hired one to visit “Kaikadi Maharaj Math” which I would recommend if one is accompanied with kids like us. Entry to this attraction is free of cost. The monastery can be seen in couple of hours. It consists of various statues depicting stories from Hindu Mythology, Purana’s, Veda’s, Vishnu Avatar’s and so on. Stories are written in details so if you are interested and have time then do read them (only thing is that all these things are mentioned in Marathi, so if you do not know Marathi then carry one good translator along with you).
One word of caution for those who are accompanied with aged people and younger babies that once you enter this math you won’t be able to return back in middle, you need to move as per the lobbies created which will take you towards exit. Some lobbies are not airy and somewhat less lit.
Few pictures from Kaikadi Maharaj Math