Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Morachi Chincholi - Part 2 - Peacocks Galore!!!!


Please read the first part of this series at Morachi Chincholi - Part 1

It was difficult to sleep considering how excited we were, but the wonderful weather and the sounds of the night lulled us to sleep, and we were soon lost to the world. Not for too long, however… we were awakened at the crack of dawn by the peacocks emerging from their hideouts and calling out to their mates. Rushikesh knocked on our door to tell us that there was one just outside our window and we rushed to peep out, scaring the poor fellow away!


One by one we filed out of the room, cameras in hand, ready to spot and capture the birds on film. It wasn’t so easy, however….. The villagers were so used to them that they hardly paid any attention, going about their morning duties as usual. The peacocks therefore felt comfortable around them, and went about their feeding and other chores without any fear. A group of ten enthusiastic city dwellers was another matter, and they were rightfully scared of us. They retreated to a safe distance from where they observed us as potential threats, while we restlessly tried to get some good photographs. Every time one of them approached, and we stood up or moved to get a better look, they retreated, and we were left with blurred shots of the beautiful birds. Our host kept telling all of us to sit down and not move at all. The birds were used to cameras, he said, but from a safe distance away. It was only because we moved towards them that they panicked. We finally managed to overcome our enthusiasm and stayed seated, and soon they approached the area where grains had been spread out for them to eat, and went about their feeding, but with a wary eye on us.


We were wondering if any of them would dance at all, when the peacock nearest to the house suddenly fanned out his tail feathers and began moving in such a graceful manner, that we were left spellbound! Some of us rushed into the bus to take better pics hidden inside, but I was just too awed to move. While I had seen peacocks before, this was the first time I had seen one dance, and the experience was just unforgettable!



According to our hosts, a pair of peafowl had arrived at this village many years back. The villagers were kind people who welcomed them, and shared their land as well as grains with them. Over the years, they have multiplied, and today, the count stands at over 2000! Of course, they are spread over a huge area, so we didn’t really see many of them….in all, I think we saw 4-5 peacocks and more than 10 pea hens. These are the regular visitors to the farmhouse we visited. Needless to say, there are such regular visitors to every farm in the area!








Among the peacocks we saw, there was one which seemed to overcome his fear and came quite close to us, perching atop a shed made for storing hay, getting down now and then, to dance a little for his beloved. She seemed to be least bothered about him, and went about searching for grains along with the other pea hens. Our fellow kept a keen eye out for her, and gave a raucous cry and fanned out his magnificent feathers every time she approached his area!




Each peacock seemed to have his territory marked out, for no other male came anywhere near him. A little away, the other side of the field seemed to be the territory of another male, who seemed to be on the verge of sealing his union with a female. She kept close to him as he danced, turning this way and that, and she moved along with him. We watched eagerly from a distance, careful not to go any closer, but she seemed to be aware of us, and probably resented our curiosity, for after more than an hour of courtship, she simply moved away. The male seemed to be confused, and waited for a while, calling out now and then, even perching on a nearby tree to wait for her, but finally gave up when she did not appear despite his repeated entreaties. We really felt like interlopers!






Meanwhile, even as this courtship was in progress, another male walked by the same field. There were a few pea hens around, but this fellow seemed to be least interested in them for he simply walked away without a glance at them! He was the only one who seemed to go all over the place, without bothering about the presence of others – his own kind or humans!


While we adults were busy trying to get some decent photographs of the peafowl, and also trying to understand their behavior, Samhith decided to go off and explore a swing tied to a tree….. Suddenly, he ran up shouting – ‘Amma, amma, peacock! Peacock!” Excited as he was, it took us a while to understand him, but it turned out that a peacock had wandered quite close, oblivious to his presence. They suddenly found each other face to face, and both were shocked! While Samhith ran back in alarm, the peacock lost no time flying a safe distance away!” This is one encounter he is sure to remember!


We were so engrossed in watching the peacocks that we didn’t even realize how swiftly the time had passed. We had spent more than 4 hours watching the birds, with just a cup of tea to fortify us. It was only when the sun climbed higher and the birds retreated to their sanctuaries somewhere in the bushes that we became aware of our hunger, and returned to the house for the hot and tasty Pohe (a typical Maharashtrian breakfast dish made with parched rice) that aji had made for us.

The peacocks wouldn’t be back till the sun went down, and it cooled down a bit, so we had lots of time to kill before lunch. We were supposed to return to Bombay after lunch, so it was goodbye to the peacocks this time! As to what we did in the time we had left, look out for the next part in the series!


Meanwhile, take a look at these two videos I managed to capture of the peacocks dancing…. Unfortunately, the quality doesn’t seem to be very good, which is why I have put these up at the end of the post. But it will give you an idea of what it was like…… It really is time I buy a new camera! What do you think???? Suggestions for a medium-priced better camera are welcome!




Monday, June 28, 2010

Morachi Chincholi - Part 1

Can you imagine being woken up at 5 AM by the peacock calling out to its mate? This is just what we experienced when we visited Morachi Chincholi last weekend. No, this village is not somewhere deep inside a jungle, but is just a 4 hour drive from Mumbai, 50 Kms from Pune.

I heard of this place more than a year back, through an article in the newspaper. It was amazing to hear that there were hundreds of peacocks in a place so close to the city, and I wanted to visit it at once. However, planning a holiday and going for it, are two different things, and the trip never materialized, though I passed Pune umpteen times during the last year. Every time I passed the city, I made a mental note to stop and visit this village, at least a short visit, but it never happened! Finally, a wonderful opportunity landed on my lap when Breakfree Journeys announced a trip to the village.

Breakfree Journeys is a new adventure and rural tourism initiative, undertaken by a young, enthusiastic chap named Rushikesh Kulkarni. I first read about them sometime back on an article on rural tourism and later stumbled across their blog, and began to follow it. this turned out to be a boon, for I was among the first to see their announcement, and lost no time in signing up – me and Samhith, that is…. Shankar was too busy, and in fact, quite happy that I was going with a group, and wouldn’t pester him for this place again!

There were ten of us in all, and thankfully, one of them was a 12 year old, so Samhith had some company. We started off in the evening on Friday, and reached Morachi Chincholi in time for dinner. We had been delayed a bit, having veered off the main road in the darkness, but the whole family welcomed us warmly. They had prepared dinner, but were waiting for us, instead of going on with theirs. It was obvious that we weren’t just tourists to them, but valued guests, and they treated us just like family! Even Samhith was comfortable at once, and he tried to strike up a conversation with aji, the grandmother, even though she knew no Hindi or English, and he knew no Marathi!


Aji of course was no stranger to this, for most of the visitors to her rural home don’t know Marathi! Yet, she manages to communicate with them, via her sons or grandsons! She told us of the time a Japanese lady was visiting, and they had a big communication problem. Finally, she called up her nephew in Pune who translated for both of them via the cell phone! Thank God for such devices which help bring people closer.

The whole conversation with aji was held in the kitchen. Aji spoke as we watched her cook on an ancient mud stove, something none of us had seen before. Even as she chatted with us, asking us where we were from, whether we were married, had come with our husbands, how many children we had……., her hands worked steadily at the Bhakris she was making for us.

Aji and her daughter-in-law at work in the kitchen... 

Dinner was typical rural Maharashtrian fareBhakri (thick chapatis or bread made of white millet flour), matki (a dish with sprouts), turi chi Bhaji (dish made with ridge gourd), daal (pulses) and Bhaat (Rice), and all of us tucked in with gusto. Of course, we could barely eat half a Bhakri, while they finished off two each. As for Samhith, he had a hard time finishing off his small portion, but enjoyed the Daal Bhaat, especially with the wonderful homemade ghee they served with it! He liked it so much, that when we left, he asked them if he could take some home! Unfortunately, they didn’t have any extra, otherwise we certainly would have returned with some!

While we spent some time chatting up our host and asking about the peacocks, Samhith and his new friend discovered the joy of sleeping in the open air! It brought back memories of my childhood in Delhi when we used to sleep out in the summer… gone are those days… but it was wonderful to re-live those memories in this small village.

Samhith and his new friend

Our host asked us to go to sleep soon, so that we could be up at the crack of dawn when the peacocks arrived, but just then one of them let out a cry, and all our sleep disappeared, as we strained our eyes in the darkness just to catch one glimpse of the birds! Finally, we gave up and went to sleep, still hearing the birds in the distance….

Did we see any peacocks? Yes we did! But you have to wait for the next part to see them!

Information: 


We stayed at the residence of the Thopates. Their home stay is approved by the Agri Tourism Development Corporation, and is named 'Mauli Krishi Paryatan Kendra'. They can be contacted through their website - http://www.chincholimorachi.com/

Rushikesh and Breakfree journeys can be contacted through their blog: http://breakfreejourneys.blogspot.com/
or through their Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/breakfreejourneys?ref=ts

Friday, June 25, 2010

Skywatch Friday - The sun and the fence.....

I clicked this photo last week on my way to the airport.... the setting sun against the barbed wire seemed somehow very poignant..... the pic quality is of course, not all that good, since this was clicked from a running car..... What do you think of it


For more skies around the world, go to Sky Watch Friday


Thursday, June 24, 2010

The advent of the creepy - crawlies....

Its pouring out there as I write these words, the windows tightly shut to prevent my computer getting wet! No words today, just pictures...... taken a couple of days back.. Yes, now that the rains have begun, I have started carrying my camera along as we wait for Samhith's bus, managing somehow to click pictures of creepy crawlies, juggling with my mobile and camera in one hand and an umbrella in the other, not to mention trying to stop Samhith from running off into the rain!

Here's our first visitor - a beetle scuttling off in the water......



And these aren't visitors - these are permanent residents - centipedes - but they look a bit more attractive in the rains (If u can call them attractive, that is..)



And if you were wondering how many of these were around, here's a glimpse... that's just one small patch of the wall!!!



And here are a few mushrooms... they grow and disappear miraculously soon!



That's all for now, but the monsoon has just begun... and more creatures are sure to appear soon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shirdi Temple Update - Speedy Darshan

I have been fortunate to have been able to visit Shirdi plenty of times. You can read about my experiences at

http://anushankarn.blogspot.com/2008/09/quick-trip-to-shirdi-and-shani.html

http://anushankarn.blogspot.com/2008/03/quick-trip-to-shirdi-and-shani.html

http://anushankarn.blogspot.com/2007/12/trip-on-diwali-from-shirdi-to-bordi.html

I will therefore not waste more words talking about the temple and my experiences.

This post is meant to be an update on the speedy darshan facility recently started at Shirdi during crowded weekends.

The temple authorities have opened a paid darshan facility during the weekends, to cope with the huge crowds at that time. To avail of these passes, one has to approach the guards at Gate No.1. They will direct you to the person issuing the passes. a limited number of passes are available each day, starting at 7AM, and the rates are as follows:


Only darshan : Rs. 100 per person
All aartis except kakad aarti: Rs. 200 per person
Kakad Aarti: Rs. 300 per person.
The passes for the Kakad aarti have to be collected the previous night.


Passes are issued only in person, and can not be collected for others. Some proof of ID is required, such as PAN card, Election ID, Driving license, etc. 

Ours was, as usual, a hurried trip, and we attended the Kakad aarti standing in the queue, since we had no time to enquire about these passes. However, I was able to find out the required information for my father-in-law, who was able to buy a pass and had darshan in just a few minutes! So, please do use this information and have a wonderful darshan at Shirdi!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nehru Centre, Nehru Planetarium and Nehru Science Centre

This year, everything seemed to conspire to keep us at home in the sweltering heat of May. Shankar hates to travel in the peak of vacation time, and says it is better to make the most of home then, and refused to step out even for a short trip. I therefore made some grand plans to take Samhith to places in Bombay, but then the heat dissuaded us from travelling and we ended up at home, Samhith mostly in front of the TV, and me in front of the computer!


Towards the end of the vacations, I was frustrated enough to take Samhith out by myself, and we opted for a visit to the Nehru Science Centre and the Planetarium. These are two places I haven’t visited for ages, but have been meaning to take Samhith for some time. My memories of both places were flaky, but I thought Samhith would find it interesting, especially since he keeps asking so many questions….

The Nehru Centre

We started our day out with the planetarium first, since we had to book tickets for the show, and I wanted the English one which is only screened once a day! It turned out to be a good decision, since I found that there were hundreds like me who had turned up! We had to wait almost an hour for the tickets, but thankfully, I was able to get the tickets for the show I wanted! We then headed to the Science centre to while away the time till the planetarium show started. This turned out to be a problem, since three hours were barely enough for the science centre and lunch!

Nehru Planetarium

The science centre and the planetarium are both in Worli, but about 3 Kms distance from each other. I had assumed that it would take us a few minutes to get from one place to another, but given the traffic restrictions and the office traffic, it took us almost 45 minutes to get to the Science centre from the planetarium!


The science centre deserves a day by itself to see it in its entirety, and we could barely do justice to it in the few hours we had left, thanks to the delay in getting there! I just about managed to show Samhith things that he could understand before it was time to leave!


The last time I visited the science centre, it was fairly new, and all the displays were in perfect condition. Now of course, the crowds have had their effect, and some buttons don’t work, the paint is wearing off, the displays look old and battered, but it still manages to capture the imagination of kids, especially since there is nothing else like it in Bombay! As of now, Samhith was barely interested in learning how the things worked, but he seemed to be fascinated by the way things happened just at the push of a button! Among the things he enjoyed were the steam engine and the tram kept on display. He wanted to get onto them, and wondered why they hadn’t kept them in working condition!


We would have spent more time looking at the displays, but Samhith wanted to see the 3D film being screened in a newly constructed dome. The film being screened was ‘Everest’ which I have already seen a dozen times before, and the only reason I agreed was that it would get us an entry into the AC hall, and would be a welcome change from the terrible heat outside! While Samhith too has seen movies in the IMAX dome before, he seemed to enjoy it for the first time here, and kept asking questions about what the people were up to!


I just managed to drag Samhith away from all the displays on the lawns by promising to get him Pav Bhaji for lunch, and spent another half an hour searching for a place which looked decent enough to get some good food! Finally managing to spot a good hotel, we filled our stomachs and headed for the planetarium.


 We still had a bit of time to wait for our show, but we found that it was easy to pass time, since the bookstore was open! We spent some wonderful time there, me looking at the books on astronomy, reliving the days of college, Samhith looking at the telescopes, hoping to get me to buy one of them! Finally, it was time to enter, and we entered the planetarium, which, for a change, was much more different since my time, but much better too! I wish other museums would learn from them about how to make things interesting!

We stayed glued through a description of our solar system, even Samhith trying to understand the details, trying to identify the different planet models! But he was most fascinated by the displays showing the effect of gravity – it was a weighing scale showing us what we would weigh on different planets. Though Samhith couldn’t understand the details, he does know now that we stay on earth and can walk and run only due to gravity, and he also knows that this is different on different planets! Thankfully, they are now focusing on the solar system in school, and he is just about beginning to understand some of the things he saw that day!

As to the show itself, the one we saw was ‘The Awesome Universe’, and Samhith didn’t really get much of it, but the fact that he actually sat through the whole show almost in peace, was enough for a first time! This is surely one place I am going to take him to, again and again!

Finally, we were done and came out only to find that our taxi driver hadn’t yet arrived, and we decided to go on to the exhibition at the Nehru Centre. There are a few art galleries there, as well as a permanent exhibition entitled “Discovery of India”. It begins with a section on the life of Pandit Nehru, illustrated through old photographs and items used by him. I hurried Samhith through his section, knowing that we had no time to read through the captions of each and every photograph in the collection. However, Samhith loved the depiction of India through the ages, starting with prehistoric men, and going on the Indus valley civilization – he especially loved the depiction of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa – and then on the different kingdoms and finally the British Domination. Every single bit of history found some mention, from Ashoka to the 1857 uprising to a separate section on the Indian freedom struggle! Samhith enjoyed looking at the ancient coins on display, since he already knows the differences between the new ones, me, my mom and my aunt being avid coin collectors! There were also models of shrines – from a replica of the Stupa at Sanchi to a typical south Indian temple. To my adult eyes, they were replicas and just that, but I was interested to see how much Samhith was impressed by them – he just didn’t want to leave! Our hurried tour through the exhibition took us almost half an hour – just a fraction of the time the place deserves, but I had to drag Samhith away since it was time to go back home!

Information:

The Nehru Centre is located on Annie Besant Road, Worli. There are two sections here – the exhibition centre and the Planetarium. Details are available on their website. The planetarium shows are held in different languages (English, Hindi and Marathi) at different times, and it is possible to book tickets in advance, though tickets have to be booked only at the planetarium itself. Set aside a couple of hours for the exhibition, apart from the time at the Planetarium. It is a wonderful way to learn history!

Links:
Planetarium details with Show timings: http://www.nehru-centre.org/planetarium.html

The Nehru Science centre is also at Worli, but about 3 Kms away. Thanks to the traffic and the road restrictions, this distance takes almost 45 minutes to cover, so it does not make sense to combine the two places. The science centre deserves a day to itself. The website is extremely detailed and gives information about the various displays as well as the costs and timings of various shows. Please do take a good look before visiting. It will be very helpful. The centre also has a membership system, and members are informed regularly about changes and new shows or displays. They regularly conduct science workshops for kids of all ages, and I have heard that these are quite interesting. Members can also avail of free entry to the centre.

Links:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pandharpur

Rows and rows of shops lined the road. Most of them sold items for puja, not surprising, considering that this was a temple town. Mounds of Kumkum, deep red in colour had been arranged carefully, resembling huge lingams. Each had an image of a deity fixed near the top. As I stopped to click a picture, I wondered how the shopkeeper managed to sell the Kumkum without destroying the shape, and then noticed that this was just the front of the mound. Behind, the Kumkum had been scooped out, carefully leaving the fa├žade intact!


Apart from the usual flower and coconut sellers, there were also a huge number of shops selling photos of various gods and goddesses, all in old fashioned wooden and glass frames.Obviously, no one was interested in laminations!


The most prominent among all these shops were those selling fancy articles for women – earrings, chains, and the like, but mainly bangles – glass bangles. I was sorely tempted to stop and buy some, but we had no time… there was much to do, and I passed on.


In the midst of the noise from the crowded shops came the sounds of singing – abhangs – Marathi songs sung by the saints, venerating Vitthala and Rakumai. Lifting our heads to see where the sounds came from, we could see the crowd of people waiting in the lines in a seven storeyed building. the building has been built just to accommodate the crowds who gather here everyday, and people patiently await their turn, signing songs to while away their time and keep themselves engaged, not knowing how long it would take for them to get darshan of the lord they had come to see.

As we bypassed the crowds and were led towards a side entrance so that we could directly enter the main part of the temple, I realised that I felt guilty for having gone ahead, while thousands were probably waiting in the queue, their devotion much, much stronger than mine!


We were visiting the temple of Vitthala at Pandharpur, with an old uncle, who, through his connections had arranged for a special darshan. Owing to his age, he couldn’t possibly wait for hours in the queue, I told myself, justifying our special entry, and tried to make the most of it, since I probably wouldn’t get such treatment ever again!


As we walked into the temple, led along corridors where the normal populace wouldn’t be allowed, I noticed that while the main, central part of the temple was made of stone, the extensions had been made of wood. While the sculptures on the stone weren’t as intricate as those we see in our grand temples of the south, they were beautiful by themselves, and as to the wooden parts, the walls were covered with paintings, both old and new, depicting stories of Lord Vitthala, and the saints who sang of Him. I wished I had more time to spend seeing them, instead of having to rush inside for darshan! What a situation – if I went in the queue, I would have to wait for hours, but wouldn’t even get a glimpse of these works of art, and now that I was actually being taken through these corridors, I didn’t have time to stop and enjoy them!

We wound our way through the corridors to the inner sanctum where the lord stood, with his hands on his waist, and hurried to press His feet with our hands, a privilege permitted only in this temple. I had visited the temple earlier too, but this time, thanks to the VIP treatment, we weren’t pushed roughly aside, and I was able to feast my eyes on Him to my heart’s content, ignoring the demands of money by the priests. Yes, our special status did not diminish the demands made by the priests, but only seemed to make them even greedier than they normally are.

The priests at Pandharpur are notorious for their greed – they start hounding visitors right at the entrance, promising a closer and faster darshan at rates beginning from a few hundreds, ranging to thousands, depending on what they judge the devotee will be ready to cough up! The demands don’t stop there, but continue right till one reaches the deity, with all the money placed at His feet making their way, not into the coffers of the temple, but into the pockets of the priests themselves! I had decided not to give any of these people any money, and put my offerings in the Hundi, hoping that it would be used by the temple, but even that is doubtful, for it is the priests who rule the roost here, not the temple committee.

The temple does have a government authority overseeing the management, but it is obviously a threat to the priests who oppose it tooth and nail. From what we heard, there seems to be a permanent bone of contention between the two groups regarding the use of the money, and they are always at loggerheads. The temple management has an office not inside the temple, but just outside, where one can give donations and get a receipt. Here, we can also specify what we want to donate for – food distribution (Annadhan), temple cleaning and maintenance; or for some specific item for the Lord.

This is one of the few temples where Lord Krishna lives apart from his wives – the sanctum of Rakumai (Rukmini) is in another part of the temple. Just outside her sanctum are two smaller ones – of Radha and Satyabhama. Though the sanctums of Radha and Satyabhama are side by side, and that of Rukmini is separate, the priests interestingly mention them in the order in which they appeared in Krishna’s life – Radha, Rukmini and Satyabhama, or as the priest put it – ‘Rai, Rakumai ani Satyabhama’. Again, interestingly, all the three idols are in standing posture with their hands on their waists, just like the lord. The idols of the goddesses are the same size too, and about a head smaller than that of the Lord.

Thanks to our uncle, we were also able to attend the Kakad aarti – the first aarti to the lord, performed in the early hours of the morning. We were at the temple by 3:30 AM, and were once again led into the temple by our guide. The door to the sanctum was opened at 4AM and we took our place just outside the sanctum, waiting for the aarti to begin. Gents were allowed right inside the sanctum, and had the good fortune to sit right near the feet of the Lord.

The aarti began with the lord being woken up with a song. It was interesting to note that the Lord was treated exactly like a child – he is, after all, believed to be the young Krishna, who stands here in this form! His teeth were brushed, his face was washed and, after the first preliminary aarti, he was given an elaborate bath. The abhishek was performed with not just the normal items like milk, curd, water, oil etc, but he was also cleansed with a red coloured mixture of fragrant herbs called ‘utane’ in Marathi which is used traditionally for bathing! Once the lord was dressed and ready, the main aarti was performed, amidst the chanting of mantras, and singing of abhangs.


The aarti went on for over two hours, during which all of us had our eyes glued to the Lord. In spite of our tiredness and lack of sleep, it was truly a wonderful experience, and nothing could make us take our eyes away. Even my son, who is normally a fidgeting child who can’t sit still for a moment, stayed in his place throughout the proceedings! He later told me that during the decoration, the idol first looked like a small Krishna. Then he looked older, and then like a king. When it was done, he looked like Vishnu! Well, that was not just my son’s imagination. The idol did seem to change its look with each layer of clothing added!

Thanks to our busy schedule, I couldn’t fulfill my wish of roaming around the streets of Pandharpur. On my earlier visit, I had noticed a street full of old book shops, filled with all kinds of ancient and recent books, mostly in Marathi. As usual, due to lack of time, I hadn’t been able to visit them, and on this trip, we found that the shops were gone! On asking, we learnt that the area around the temple had been cleared and the shops had been relocated to another street. We didn’t have time to go looking for them, especially since I anyway had no intention of buying any ancient Marathi manuscripts! Another thing I missed due to the clearing of the roads were the wooden toys we saw on our last visit. I was thankful that we had bought plenty of them then, for there were none visible now! Apparently, the toy sellers were nomads and weren’t around at this time! Thanks to the disappearing shops, this was one visit where I didn’t spend a penny shopping! And this was when I had expected to return with armfuls of wooden toys and glass bangles!!!!

Information

The temple of Vitthala at Pandharpur is one of the most important temples in Maharashtra. It is believed that Lord Vishnu arrived at Pandharpur to visit his devotee Pundalika, who was busy serving his parents at the time. Without deviating from his duty, Pundalika threw a brick and asked the Lord to wait. The Lord obeyed his devotee and stood on the brick, with his hands on his waist, awaiting his devotee, and this is how he stands in the temple till this day.

Pandharpur is located in Solapur district, and is about 70 Kms from Solapur city. It is about 380 Kms from Mumbai and 200 Kms from Pune. Pandharpur now has a railway station and has regular trains from Mumbai.

There is no dearth of accommodation, and you can find a hotel to fit your budget. From Dharamshalas to three star hotels, there are plenty of options. We stayed at the Aishwarya Hotel, which was just 10 minutes walking distance from the temple, and was extremely comfortable.

There are also plenty of other temples and places to visit in and around Pandharpur. The most important of these are…

  1. The Bhima River – Pandharpur is situated on the banks of the Bhima River, which is a tributary of the Krishna. Surprisingly, even in the peak of summer, there was plenty of water in the river. It is customary to bathe in the river before going for darshan to the temple.

  1. Pundalika temple – situated on the bed of the river, this is a small temple built over the remains of Pundalika, the devotee who drew Lord Vitthala to Pandharpur.

  1. Vishnu Pad temple – also situated on the river bed, this one has to be approached over a stone pathway constructed on the river bed. This temple is built over a stone believed to have the footprints of Lord Krishna and a cow. The temple being almost in the middle of the river, is covered by water for almost 3 to 4 months of the year.

  1. Gopalpur – situated about 2 Kms from Pandharpur, there is a temple to Lord Gopala Krishna at this place. It is said to be a beautiful temple, with many points of interest. Unfortunately, I have not been able to visit this place yet. From what I have heard, this place is accessible by boat as well as by road, and is a trip worth the effort. 

For those of you who would like to read more about the temple and its history, as well as the many other temples in the vicinity, here  are a few links for you…


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