Pandharpur Wari – A Journey of Faith

Before I start, let me give you a brief introduction of the event.

Thousands of people called ‘Varkari’ reach Pandharpur from Alandi or Dehu after walking for about 250kms in Aashad (a hindu month which coincides with June/ July) Ekadashi (11th day of the moon). They walk with palkhis (chariots) carrying paduka (sandals) of the saints singing sacred songs.

Varkaris are a Hindu religion sect who workship Vithoba (or Vitthal),  an incarnation of Krishna.

Read about my second visit to Pandharpur here.

Travelling to Pandharpur was a very hasty decision taken at the last moment but I didnt want to miss it this year. We took a train to Solapur and then a local bus to Pandharpur.

To make the best use of morning time (which is the golden hour for photographers), we decided to reach late and stay at Pandharpur rather than staying at Solapur. By the time we reached the place, it was already past midnight. We did not have any advance booking and were struggling to find a place to stay. As we were doing hotel hunting, I did not miss any opportunity to take some shots. It was surprising that even at the middle of the night, there were lots of people around.

Read about my second visit to Pandharpur here.

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The first view of the temple.

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After a search for about an hour and finding absolutely no options, we gave up and decided to spend the night at the bus station sitting on one of the benches.

Travelling has it own adventures, and it makes you mentally strong and fearless to be prepared for the unforeseen.
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We woke up early, and took an auto to Wakhari – the place where the palaki was supposed to reach that day. It was unbelievable to see the unending stretch of Dindis (or groups) approaching Pandharpur.

It was drizzling but the devotees continued their march.

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The first views of the procession.

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 Read about my second visit to Pandharpur here.

A procession with Palki

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Women carry Tulsi (basil) plants on their head to offer at the temple
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Some even read sacred books on the way.

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I have made a few padyatras (journeys on foot) before and could understand how difficult it can be walking for 20 days in sun and rain.

Singing bhajans (religious songs) on the way definitely makes it easy. People carry musical instruments like local veenas, mridungas, dholkis and chiplis. They also perform a tradition folk dance called fugdi which energizes them.

 

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Every group has a leader wearing a special uniform and a hat. He controls the movement of the group and to check if anyone is left behind.
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Most of these people stay in temporary tents beside the road. Many spend the nights in trucks which also serve as a place for keeping their luggage.

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Many people, who can’t afford, carry all their stuff on their head all the way.
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A lone sadhu walking through the countryside
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Washing and drying clothes on the way
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A tribal with traditional jewellery  PandharpurWari-145

Pilgrims take a bath at the river ‘Chandrabhaga’ before visiting the main temple.
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I always love shooting people as they add to the flavour of a place. Here are some of them.

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Though I was just for a day and was not able to capture all the flavours of the yatra, nevertheless, I really enjoyed it. I hope you did too, reading this.
I will bring back more next year!

You can read my post from the next year here.

Thank you for reading the post. You might like to read my previous posts.

This article is written by Saurabh Chatterjee. He is a professional travel photographer and a photography trainer. He strives to ‘make every camera-owner a great photographer’ through his Photo Tours and Photography workshops.

My pictures

This is my entry for “Travel That Moved me” contest, in support of Rang de, conducted by desi Traveler and I won Second prize for this post.



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9 Comments

  1. Hi mitra

    NIce thought , & nice photography …….

  2. Very nice article! I have not been on this journey–just watched it from a distance during the pilgrimage period. Your piece makes me want to join. Thank you for the great photos!

    • Thanks Bhavana!

  3. Very Nice, your photography made me go thru the entire tour.

  4. Enjoyed the article and the photos! Where are this year’s photos? There were a couple yesterday, I think. However, I just saw Deepthi’s blog and photos.

  5. nice photography…..do you have palkhi diveghat pics????? if u have thn pls mail me….thanks

  6. plz join me your grup
    nice photo

  7. Awesome Clickss.. 👌👌👍

  8. My family all the time say that I am wasting my time here
    at net, however I know I am getting knowledge all the time by reading thes fastidious articles

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