Managing the Impacts of a Temporary Pilgrim Event: A Case of Alandi- Pandharpur Waari.

Author: Prajakta Ahire| Krvia – Post Graduate Program | 2020

Indian cities are in constant motion. They are composed of different layers. One form is everyday and other is temporary. There are many cultural, religious events which are temporary in nature, taking place periodically around the cities. They occupy spaces in the city for limited time frame. They enhance the public realm and make up the city’s  identity. They act as third place for the people. The temporal Urbansim challenges the city, how they are perceived and conceived.

In Hinduism, taking up a journey to holy place is believed to have a great significance. People come together and move towards religious centers. This thesis particularly focuses  on 800 years old pilgrim event called Alandi- Pandharpur waari in Maharashtra which takes place every year in the month of July (Ashada).8-10 lakhs of pilgrims walk 250 kilometers journey from Alandi to Pandharpur to seek blessings of Lord Vitthala. The enthusiasm is in the air with warkaris singing abhangas, kirtans, chanting ’vitthala vitthala’ heading towards pandharpur with smiling faces.

The waari connects towns and villages to form an integrated sacred network. Large influx of population passes through these towns and villages. It is like a whole new city visiting another town/village. The collective rituals, their physical, ecological, political aspects and infrastructural arrangements take up a higher magnitude during this event. The movement of pilgrims affects the surroundings through which they move as well as the individuals. The unregulated visitor numbers leads to seasonal strain on physical and ecological resources and in return affects the experience of pilgrims and disturbs the public realm.

A thought of how a city/village absorbs  huge crowd and cater to their needs provided an insight to study spaces evolving during the event. Looking at the growth of small towns/villages and the changes in scale and character of waari over the past few decades reflect new pressure on towns and villages. The study tries to examine the issues and challenges faced by the towns/villages on the route The thesis further looks at the impacts generated due to this pilgrim event under physical, ecological and governance parameters at most stressed points on the route Alandi and Wakhari.

In this annual pilgrimage, analysis shows the  impacts occurred due to an event are for long term while pilgrims are limited over time and space. Also the idea of temporality of such events lacks in the development plans of towns and villages.

The thesis addresses the notion of temporary vs permanence and  tries to find out how the impacts generated during waari can be managed to enhance the experience of pilgrims and local communities thus strengthening the public realm which forms a big part of urban reality.

Text & Image Credit: Prajakta Ahire| Krvia – Post Graduate Program | Urban Design

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1 Comment

  1. A very systematic study and evolves with the energy from its thought process. Display sensitive understanding of the context.
    Nicely pivots on physical, ecological& governance while exploring temporariness and permanance.

    Liked by 1 person

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