Pandharpur Dhama is located about four hundred kilometers southeast of Bombay. Some call it Bhu-vaikuntha, “the spiritual world on earth.” Others call it Dakshina Dvaraka, the Dvaraka of the South.
The town is located on the western bank of the river Bhima. Because of the way the river bends as it reaches Pandharpur, it is known there as the Candrabhaga (“crescent moon”). For the devotees of Vitthala, this river is as holy as the Ganges.
The most outstanding display of the Maharashtrians’ devotion to Lord Vitthala is the Dindi Yatra, a pilgrimage on foot with 200,000 Pilgrims that culminates in Pandharpur. It has been performed annually for the last seven hundred years.
Across the Candrabhaga River, right on the bank, rests a small and peaceful Hare Krishna ashrama, started by ISKCON devotees from Maharashtra in the early 1980’s. They cultivate the land, keep cows, and during Ekadashi festivals help serve the pilgrims. The devotees supply Srila Prabhupada’s Marathi Bhagavad-gita, always popular. The ISKCON ashrama served as host for our Padayatra’s first visit to Pandharpur, in December of 1984. During that visit, the priests of the Vitthala temple warmly welcomed us and gave us the special privilege of bathing the Deity of Lord Vitthala.