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History of Pandharpur Vitthal Rukmini Mandir – Architecture of Vithoba Temple at Pandharpur


Pandharpur Vitthal Rukmini Mandir, located on the banks of Chandrabhaga River in Solapur District, is the spiritual capital or pilgrimage capital of Maharashtra.  Here is a brief history and architecture of Pandharpur Temple also known as Vithoba Temple.

History of Pandharpur Vitthal Rukmini Mandir

The temple is very old and its origin is lost in time. A surviving written record states that the temple complex of Pandharpur was renovated by a king from Pratisthana of Shalivahana dynasty in 83 AD. The original temple might have existed much before this period.

An old copper plate of 516 AD under Rashtrakutas records this a temple village in a well populated territory.

A local inscription in 1239 AD records royal visits of Deogiri Yadav.

The Paduka procession began from 1296 AD.

Haibatbaba organized palanquin procession from Alandi to Pandharpur from 1650 AD.

The temple was invaded and destroyed numerous times by Muslim invaders.

Secular scholars and historians (who have no respect for Hinduism but find every other faith to be respectful) have written in many papers and books that originally, the temple belonged to Shiva and it was later converted into a Vishnu Temple. They also state that Jains worshipped Neminath here, Surya worshippers worshiped Some here and Buddhists worshipped Avalokiteshwara here.

Pandharpur Vitthal Rukmini Mandir

Tears roll down the eyes of an ardent devotee when they catch first glimpse of the temple from a distance – the rising pinnacles, low domes and flat roofs, Kalasha of Shri Vitthal Rukmini and long horizontal stretch of white sand.

Pandharpur Vitthal Rukmini Mandir is located behind high stonewalls over a small hillock. The temple occupies an area of about 52 meters by 106 meters. It is surrounded by narrow paved stones passages of 2 to 3 meters width and has three gates on the East, three gates on the North and one each on South and West.

The main gate is the Mahadwar on East which is approached from Namdeo Payari and a flight of eleven steps. There is a Ganapati Idol in a niche, the Nagarkhana is on top.

The mandap within the enclosure is about 18 meters by 37 meters and flanked by cloister and room covered with ornate wooden canopy. There are two Deepmalas about 10 meters high and shrines of Garuda and Hanuman.

The Sola Khambi is approached from a smaller sabhamandapa flanked by Jaya Vijaya and three steps covered with brass sheets. On the left is the treasury.

The Sola Khambi rests on sixteen ornate stone pillars, one of the pillars Garud Khamb is covered with silver sheets.

On the north of this Mandap, is a detached verandah with small-room shrines dedicated to Kashi Vishwanath, Ram Lakshman, Kalbhairav, Rameshwar, Dattatreya and Narsoba.

A silver plated entrance leads to Chou – Khambi resting on four pillars, to its right is the Shejghar. An antechamber and a silver arch lead to the main Vithal Shrine.

Another important shrine in the complex is the Rukmini Temple. Pundalik, the greatest devotee of Vitthal, has his Samadhi Shikhara on the Mahadwar Ghat.

Trailokya Nam Bhavan and Tanpure mandap are other important landmarks in Pandhapur.

The lanes running eastwards from the temple link to the ghats. There are 12 ghats and all are used by pilgrims. The most important ghat is the Mahadwar Ghat. The Uddhav, Chandrabhaga, Datta and Amalnerkar ghats are used by the warkaris.

There are several mutts, phads, temples and dharmashalas in Pandharpur.