Pandharpur is an important pilgrimage city on the banks of Bhima river in Solapur district, Maharashtra, India. Here for Darshna of Vithoba temple about half a million Hindu pilgrims comes from different parts of country during the majorYatra (pilgrimage) in the month of Ashadh (June-July).The Bhima River, which is also known as Chandrabhaga because of its half-moon-like shape. The city is named after a merchant, Pandarika, who achieved self-realization there. Pandharpur, also known as Pandhari, hosts the renowned Vitthal temple on the banks of Bhima. “Vithoba”, “Pāndurang”, and “Pandharināth” are the popular alternate names of the deity, Viththal, who is regarded in Hinduism as a form of Lord Krishna, who, in turn, is considered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Rakhumai or Rukmini is Viththal’s consort in the temple.
The temple has four doors for the entrance. The doors are used by different reason. On the east side, there are three doors.
1) The main gate or first door is called ‘Namdev darwaja’. It is called ‘Mahaddvar’ (a big door). Here ‘Namdev’ who was beloved of Lord Shri Vittal took self immolation in 1350 A.D. with his 14 family members. The step is called ‘Namdev Payari’. Every year anniversary day of Namdev is celebrated. The step is ornamented by brass metal. In the right side of step there is the idol of Namdev. The pious people first take Darshan of this Namdev step without touching. There is a stand of water on the right side of the steps called ‘Vrundavan dam’. Next of Namdev step there is the self immolation of Saint Chokhamela. The urns of Saint Chokhamela’s were brought by Namdev built Chokhamela’s immolation. The restoration of chokhoba’s immolation made by the king of Phaltan. He built a big umbrella. This reference is given on the immolation. In this area there are two idols of Ganesh, Saraswati and two veergal besides of the chokhamela immolation. But now they have been replaced.
2) On the right hand of the Namdev step there is a big Indian fig tree. There is eastern face door adjacent of the temple which we can go into the temple. New Darshan mantap. A bridge has been built between Darshan Mantap and the temple.
3) The third eastern face door which we call ‘Tati Door’. If you enter through this door, you will see ‘Kanhopatra temple’, ‘Laxmi Mandir’ and ‘Venkoba Temple.’ The temple has two doors on southern side. 1) First door for the ladies. 2) Second joined to Bajirao Padsali.
There is big and only one main door at the western side. It is called ‘Paschim dvar’. The vehicles stop here coming from S.T. stand and ‘Choufula’. You can park you vehicles there. This door is used for exit during celebrations.
There occurs Four Pilgrimages in a year. These are
1) Chaitra Pilgrimage
Chaitra is the first month in Hindu religion. A big pilgrimage(vari) is held in Pandharpur in the month of Chaitra for the vision of Lord Vitthal. There is a rush on ‘Gudhipadva (in Telugu UGAADI) and Ramnavami’. The first day of the year is called Gudhipadva. On the day a pole is erected not only on temples and hermitages but also on the houses on New Year’s Day. We welcome the New Year. In this month Shikhar Shingnapur another holy place which is situated on the highway of Pandharpur and Pune. Where is also held pilgrimage. There is an ancient temple of Shri Shambhu Mahadev. It was erected on abig hill. After taking vision of Lord Vitthal, the pious people go to Shikar Shinganapur for the vision of Lord Shankar.
2) Aashadhi Ekadashi Pandharpur
Celebration of Aashadhi Ekadashi Pilgrimage at Pandharpur
This is one of the most important pilgrimages(vari) of Varkari Tradition. Our Lord Vitthal himself told Namdev not to forget Aashadhi pilgrimage. The four months period from Aashadhi to Kartiki is believed that these four months are holy months. Therefore many pious people come to Pandhapur. In these four months, various religions programmers are held in Pandharpur. Approximately 5 or 6 lac people come to Pandharpur for Aashadhi Pilgrimage. It is generally monsoon season. During the period of pilgrimage the Chandrabhaga River becomes mighty. The whole atmosphere becomes excited and delightful. Many merchant get busy in their work. Aashadhi pilgrimage cannot be described in words. It must be seen with eyes.
Before the Aashadhi pilgrimage, the pious people set forth to wars Pandharpur. Many people from another states also come to Pandharur for Aashadhi pilgrimage. They forget their discriminations of language, casts etc. they call themselves the servant of Vishnu and Vitthal. Varkari Tradition teaches integrity. Here the discriminate ends. Many foreigners come to see this celebration.
3) Kartiki Pilgrimage
Thi is the second highest pilgrimage(vari) held in Kartik Month at Pandharpur. Many pious people come to Pandharpur for the vision of Shri Vitthal . After the pilgrimage the people who lives for four months in Pandharpur. They all return to their own places. Various religions programs are held in this month. The four holy months ends after this pilgrimage Celebration .For this Kartik pilgrimage many people comes here from Karnatak states i.e Bijapur, Hubli, Dharwad, Belgaon etc In the Bijapur District, there are many followes of Inchageri Tradition. Bhausaheb Maharaj Umdikar, Rambhau Ranade etc. these people worked for Varkari Tradition.
4) Maghi Pilgrimage
A small pilgrimage(vari) is held in magh (Feb.) month. It is the fourth important pilgrimage. Many pious people comes from Maharashtra, Karnatak and Andhra – Pradesh. The devotion is seen in Telgu, Tamili and Karnataki people. There is a village in Andhra Pradesh the name of the village is Battipollu. In this village, there is ancient temple of Lord Vitthal where a pilgrimage is also held.
There are many pious people come from Madhyapradesh, Gujrath, Rajastan. A narration punctuated by music is done in Hindi, Gujarathi, kannad, Telgu Languages. Different people are united in Bhagavat Religion. The Pandharpur is only the holy place where different religious , different caste are united under Bhagawat Religion so it is the symbol of Hindu cultural location at Pandharpur.