From Alandi to Pandharpur : In my childhood I have travelled as a part of pilgrimage. As my parents were Warkaris, my father used to visit Pandharpur every month. He went to Latur riding a mare called Mani. From there he would travel in a train named BLR or Barsi Light Railway.
In the month of Ashadh my parents and me would go to Alandi, the birthplace of Dnyaneshvar, a twelfth century Marathi poet and saint, who took samadhi at a mere age 21. From Alandi we used to accompany the Dindi or a group of Varkaris, led by Vaskar Maharaj, accompanying the Palkhi or palanquin of St. Dnyaneshwar.
All of us would sing Bhajans such as Jai Jai Ram Krishnahari, Dnyaneshwar Mauli Dnyanraj Mauli Tukaram, Nivruti Dnyandev Sopan Muktabai Eknath Namdev Tukaram. From Alandi the Palakhi is taken to Pune, a seat of learning. After Pune comes Saswata, famous for Dnyaneshwars brother Soman’s Samadhi. From Saswad we go to Jejuri, the seat of Khandoba an incarnation of Shiva. Then comes Valhe, famous for Adikavi or first poets place of birth of Valmiki. Valmiki wrote Ramayana, the story of Rama. Next comes Shinganapur, famous tor Mahadevan temple, owned by descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Followed by Phaltan, noted for its palace of Nimbalkar, presently represented by Shri Ramraje Nimbalkar, Chairman of Maharshtra Legislative Council.
On our way, at Lonand, we saw late St. Gadge Baba sweeping a road while chanting : Gopala Gopala Devakinandan Gopala. At Malshiras we saw a Gol (round) Rangan where a horse belonging to Alandi went round the circle and carrying a saffron flag. At Wakhri, on the outskirts of Pandharpur, all the palkhis , going to Pandharpur, assemble before proceeding to Pandharpur. All the Palkhis enter Pandharpur on the auspicious day of Ashadh Shuddha Ekadasi where lakes of people gather on the banks of Chandrabhaga, as river Bheema is known here, because of zig-zag curves it takes here.
All in all it was a overwhelming experience. We used simple leather footwear as there weren’t any other options those days. We all walked slowly towards Pandharpur, nothing could stop us, neither hunger or harsh sun. The spirit of the Wari (Pilgrimage) would fuel our legs.