Tuesday, August 6, 2013

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.

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.


 The first view of the temple. PandharpurWari-003

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. PandharpurWari-005

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.

   PandharpurWari-009 The first views of the procession. PandharpurWari-015 PandharpurWari-126

A procession with Palki PandharpurWari-037

Women carry Tulsi (basil) plants on their head to offer at the temple

Some even read sacred books on the way.


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.

  PandharpurWari-022 PandharpurWari-027


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.

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.


Many people, who can’t afford, carry all their stuff on their head all the way. PandharpurWari-090

A lone sadhu walking through the countryside PandharpurWari-079

Washing and drying clothes on the way PandharpurWari-096

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.
  PandharpurWari-106 PandharpurWari-035 PandharpurWari-039 PandharpurWari-047 PandharpurWari-049 PandharpurWari-065 PandharpurWari-067 PandharpurWari-110 PandharpurWari-117 PandharpurWari-192

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!

- Saurabh Chatterjee
My pictures


  1. The description of the yatra is so well written with awesome pictures :)

  2. After reading this I am eager to join you in next padyatra ... :)