Sant Dnyaneshwar Samadhi At Alandi

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I first heard of Alandi when I was reading about the Vari pilgrimage. This is when I learned about the Palki of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj which leaves from here to Pandharpur. I quickly looked for it on Google Maps and found it not too far from Pune. I parked it on my mental list for the next Pune visit.

It was in May 2023 that I had an opportunity to visit Pune and along with it – Alandi. Little did I realize that it is so close to Pune airport that you can always take a small detour to visit Alandi.

Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj

Dnyaneshwar Vithal Kulkarni ji is best known for his work Gyaneshwari – a commentary on Bhagwad Gita. It is treated as the most important sacred scripture in Maharashtra today.

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj was born in 1275 CE in Apegaon on the banks of Godavari, near Paithan on the auspicious day of Krishna Janamashtmi. His father, Vithal Pant Kulkarni married Rakhumabai of Alandi but soon after left for Kashi to pursue his spiritual journey. He returned from Kashi to live the life of a householder in Alandi. After which they had 3 sons and a daughter all of whom attained samadhi.

Devotees reading Gyaneshwari at Dnyaneshwar Samadhi
Devotees reading Gyaneshwari at Dnyaneshwar Samadhi

In his short life of 21 years, Dnyaneshwar Maharaj wrote Amritanubhava and Gyaneshwari. These are considered the first texts written in the Marathi language. He used the Ovi meter for his work which is commonly found in the folk songs of the region.

His Abhangs were mostly composed during his pilgrimage to Pandharpur and other pilgrimage places in India. His biography is the oldest recorded account of Varkari tradition including the Pandharpaur Vari Yatra.

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj performed many miracles like making a buffalo recite Veda mantras and riding on a wall. He was associated with Nath Yogi Parampara.

His samadhi is in the Siddheshwar temple premises on the banks of Indrayani in Alandi.

Indrayani River

Just like Dehu, Alandi is located on the banks of the Indrayani River. The riverfront here is well-developed and reminded me of the Narmada Riverfront at Maheshwar.

Indrayani River at Alandi
Indrayani River at Alandi

There are well-laid ghats on both sides of the river, well connected by a bridge. Temples dominate the skyline of Alandi. An aura of divinity dominates with shops selling Tulsi Mala, cymbals, and Murtis of Vithoba-Rakhmai, Sant Tukaram, and Dnyaneshwar Maharaj.

You hear the chanting; you see the folded hands and you see the infinite faith that connects all of us to that one supreme reality.

Among many festivals throughout the year, the last rites of the departed are also performed here on river banks.

Visiting Alandi

As you approach the town of Alandi, you get soaked in the Bhakti of Vithoba. You can feel it all around the banks of the river.

Sant Dnyaneshwar Samadhi

The main temple is dedicated to Siddheshwar Mahadev. It is now more famous for the samadhi of Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj.

An interesting aspect of Alandi is the fact that you find people sitting and reading Gyaneshwari under trees and in the mandapa of the temple. It almost feels that people come here to read it in the company of its composer, and fellow devotees.

Samadhi of Sant Dnyaneshwar is located on an upper floor. It was built about 300 years after he took Samadhi.

Entrance of Siddheswar Mandir and Dnyaneshwar Samadhi
Entrance of Siddheswar Mandir and Dnyaneshwar Samadhi

You must get into a queue to reach it. On an average day, it can take you at least 3-4 hours in the queue. On special days like Ekadashi, you may plan to be in a queue for the whole day. I stood in the queue for almost 2 hours singing the Hari bhajans with my fellow devotees.

However, I became breathless and had to come out through an escape route. I seriously think the queues can be way shorter if people are allowed to walk in and walk out. Too much barricading is creating crowds unnecessarily. But, as they say, the real devotees persist and keep moving with devotion. Or, like me, you can be content that being on the premises is as good as darshan.

Such is the rush of devotees that the British levied a pilgrim tax here.

Trees of Alandi

Ajaan Vriksha – This tree is supposed to have come from the staff of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj, and hence the carrier of his wisdom. It is as sacred as the Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya under which Buddha attained enlightenment.

Suvarna Pipal – This Golden Pipal tree is located right next to the Ajaan Vriksha. It is believed that the tree can bless you with progeny. So, you see many women reading under it.

Both the trees are surrounded by so much concrete flooring that one wonders if indeed a divine power is keeping them alive and thriving.

Devotees of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj

Haibatbuwa Rao's Step
Haibatbuwa Rao’s Step

At the main entrance of the temple, you would notice a golden step with Haibatraobuva Arphalkar written on it. Well, this was a devotee who started the modern tradition of carrying the Padukas of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj to Pandharpur in early 19th CE. Such was his devotion that he wanted every visitor to the temple to step on his body.

Singing of Dnyaneshwar Abhangas
Singing of Dnyaneshwar Abhangas

In the mandapa, you can see the devotes singing or meditating. A person was singing holding an ektara and almost everyone there bowed down to touch his feet. As they say, a Bhakta becomes like his Devta and I could literally see this here.

Vari Pilgrimage

Pandharpur Vari procession from Alandi leaves 21 days before Ashadhi Ekadashi. It is one of the largest Vari processions that goes from Alandi. Lakhs of people join the procession of Padukas of Sant Dnyaneshwar to visit Pandharpur with him, covering nearly 150 km on foot.

Vari Yatra during the month of Kartik is also important in Alandi as it coincides with the time when Mauli, as Sant Dnyaneshwar is known, took Samadhi.

Walking around the main temple, I stopped at many shops selling the literature of Marathi Bhakti Saints. Most of this is available in Marathi, though I managed to find a copy of Gyaneshwari in Hindi.

There are shops selling puja offerings, sweets of all kinds, fruits, murtis of different saints, and of course Vithal Rakhmabai.

Other Temples in Alandi

Walking around town I discovered a few lovely temples

Ram Temple in Alandi
Ram Temple in Alandi

Ram Temple is a lovely colorful temple. You are surrounded by colors all around as you walk in. Ironically, these temples are empty while the Samadhi is so crowded. A clear case of systematically creating crowds.

Lakshmi Narayan Temple is located next to the Ram temple, in a narrow lane leading to the river. Small but peaceful temple.

Dnyaneshwari Mandir – This temple is still under construction. Like Gatha Mandir in Dehu, this temple will celebrate Gyaneshwari by having it written all over the walls. It is a huge hall, where bhajan was going on when I visited. When it is complete it would be a highlight on the Alandi Skyline.

Apart from this, there are a lot of Mutts and Dharamshalas, this being a pilgrimage place. After coming back, I also learned about the Alandi Fort, Saraswati temple, and a Jain temple there. I hope to visit them someday.

Travel Tips for Alandi

Alandi is just 16 km from Pune airport. So, you can easily do it from Pune.

You need a lot of time if you want to have a darshan of the Samadhi. Budget at least 4 hours for that on a normal day. Apart from this, everything else can be done in a couple of hours.

You can spend time reading Gyaneshwari along with devotees there. Or, you can spend time doing Kirtana.

Food and accommodation are available in Alandi as well.

You can pick up Gyaneshwari, Tulsi Mala, and Murtis from Alandi as souvenirs.

A lot of weddings take place in Alandi, bringing thousands of people during the wedding season. Take that into account when you plan your trip to Alandi.

1 COMMENT

  1. As I read about Sant Dnyaneshwar Samadhi in Alandi, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the profound spiritual significance of this sacred site. Sant Dnyaneshwar’s legacy as a revered saint and poet continues to inspire countless souls, drawing pilgrims and seekers from far and wide to pay homage to his divine presence.
    Alandi, nestled amidst the tranquil landscapes of Maharashtra, exudes an aura of serenity and spirituality that is truly palpable. Walking through the hallowed grounds surrounding Sant Dnyaneshwar’s Samadhi, one can’t help but feel a sense of reverence and tranquility wash over them. It’s as if the very air is imbued with the echoes of his teachings, guiding visitors on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment.

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