Pandharpur pilgrimage to be promoted as tourist attraction

Pune/Mumbai, June 24 (Calcutta Tube) As part of the golden jubilee of the formation of the state, Maharashtra will carry out a special promotion for the Pandharpur Padayatra (pilgrimage by foot), which attracts over a million devotees in July, an official said Thursday.

‘This year, the MEDC (Maharashtra Economic Development Council), as part of the ‘Visit Golden Maharashtra’ tourism initiative, will market the Pandharpur Padayatra pilgrimage, provide logistics and awareness support, and facilitate private players to introduce special packages,’ MEDC-International vice president Vinod Gupta told IANS.

The Pandharpur Padayatra is one of the world’s largest and most colourful event of its kind when over a million pilgrims from all over the state converge and march to the temple of Lord Vidhoba – the presiding deity of Maharashtra, in Solapur – culminating July 21, which coincides with Ashadi Ekadasi, Gupta said.

Describing it as ‘one of the greatest religious and visual spectacles anywhere in the world’, Gupta said that besides traditional marketing tools, MEDC would even exploit modern day internet tools like Facebook and Twitter to promote the Pandharpur Padyatra for the international tourists.

The padayatra starts in the first week of July from the Sant Tukaram Temple in Pune before winding its way to Pandharpur, around 215 km away. Pandharpur is in Solapur district, around 390 km from Mumbai.

En route, from various small towns and villages, hundreds of ‘palkhis’ (palanquins) carried by devotees join the main ‘palkhi’ from Sant Tukaram Temple and it becomes a moving sea of humanity by the time it reaches Pandharpur.

‘Besides being the world’s single largest religious padayatra, it holds importance for a very large section of the Maharashtrian society. Its potential within the religious tourism segment is vast,’ Gupta pointed out.

The MEDC was launched in April by state Tourism Minister Vijaykumar Gavit to promote the state which has abundant natural beauty.

On one hand there are the vast, untapped scenic beaches on the Konkan coast and the towering Sahyadri mountains, and on the other, there are many wildlife parks and hill stations, besides avenues for adventure, ecology, wine, Bollywood and religious tourism.

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