PM Modi calls for Pandharpur to be made the cleanest pilgrimage spot in India

Calling for the temple town of Pandharpur in Maharashtra’s Solapur district to be transformed into the cleanest pilgrimage site in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that the palkhi (palanquin) highways would accelerate the development of the region whilst enhancing connectivity with South India.

He was speaking during the virtual ground breaking ceremony of 13 highway projects which are aimed at increasing connectivity to the iconic temple town in Solapur district.

Mr. Modi virtually laid the foundation stone for the widening of five sections of National Highway (NH) 965 and three sections of NH 965G to four lanes. NH-965 is popularly known as the Sant Dnyaneshawar Maharaj Palkhi Marg while NH 965G is also called the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi Marg after the two of the most revered saints of Maharashtra.

The Prime Minister appealed to the locals to plant trees on both sides of the highways and establish drinking water facilities at regular stops so that the warkaris (devotees undertaking the pilgrimage or wari) could avail shade and quench their thirst.

“Pandharpur signifies happiness and prosperity… special roads will be constructed for warkaris on both sides of this highway and various facilities should be created for them on this route. The Pandharpur wari (the annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Lord Vithoba in Pandharpur made by warkaris carrying palanquins bearing footprints of the Bhakti saints Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram) is the oldest such pilgrimage journey in the world,” Mr. Modi said in his speech delivered via video-conferencing.

He said that the Palkhi highways would not only boost the cultural development of the region, but enhance development as a whole by increasing religious tourism and helping create employment opportunities.

About 221km of the Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi Marg (from Dive Ghat to Mohol) and about 130Km of Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi Marg from (Patas to Tondale-Bondale) are to be be widened to four lanes at an estimated costs of about Rs. 6,690 crore and Rs. 4,400 crores.

These “dedicated walkways” are designed to help ease the movement of devotees undertaking the wari to and from Pandharpur.

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray were also present on the occasion through videoconferencing while Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari was present in Pandharpur.

Assuring that the State government would not allow shortage of necessary facilities for the warkaris on the palkhi highway, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the decision taken by the Central Government to boost connectivity to Pandharpur was a very important one.

“The Maharashtra Government is with the Centre in every step it takes in the construction and enhancement of the Palkhi highway,” said the Chief Minister.

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