Â Â Solapur, a town and district in Maharashtra, western India has many religious places. Many Hindu saints have hailed from this place and the city is proud of its history.
Let us first look at the pilgrimage spots in this district. They are Pandharpur, Akkalkot, Karmala, Barshi and Mangalwedha.
Pandharpur is famous for saints like Shri Sant Dnyaneshwar and Shri Sant Tukaram who worshipped Lord Vitthal, the Supreme God of the Universe. The incarnation of this God is Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and the deity is called â€œShri Siddeshwarâ€.Since Pandharpur is the holiest place in Maharashtra for Hindus, every year in the month of July about 7 to 8 lakh devotees gather here to carry the palanquins of the saints from neighboring villages like Alandi to Pandharpur, walking hundreds of miles to perform certain religious rituals. It is the biggest festival here and is called the Waari festival.
Karmala, Barshi and Mangalwedha have many temples and the saints who belong to these temples are worshipped even today. In AkkalkotÂ there is a famous banyan tree under which the great saint Shri Swami Maharaj used to meditate and preach, and he is considered also an incarnation of a Hindu God. It is now a temple and is called the Swami Maharaj Math.
In Karmala the temple architecture is unique. One temple has the number 96 as its cue number: it has 96 steps, the construction of the temple is with 96 pillars and there are 96 pictures in the temple.
Donâ€™t miss the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary at Solapur. One of the rarest birds of the Indian Sub-continent is the Great Indian Bustard or Maldhok, which is its local name. The Sanctuary covers an area of 8000 sq. kms. and is easily accessible by road. There is also a 14th century fort built by the Muslims and reflecting the era of the Muslim rule when Solapur was a fortress town.
The citizens of Solapur take pride in the fact that Solapur is the only city in India which enjoyed freedom for 3 days before the country got independence as far back as 1930. So the Solapur Municipal Council is known as the first Municipal Council of India which hoisted the National Flag on the Municipal Corporation Building in 1930. This was initiated by Mahatma Gandhi and followed by many freedom fighters who belonged to Solapur in 1930. The statues of these freedom fighters have been erected in the middle of Solapur City and this Martyrâ€™s memorial is called Hutatma Chowk.
Gangapur GolgumatÂ is found in Bijapur about 100 km from Solapur. This is a historic town, with the many forts found here.
The lingam found in Kudal Sangam is unique and not found anywhere else. It is located on the banks of river Bhima and Sina., and has the oldest Hemad Panthi mandir. The waterfalls in Nar and Madhi, near Naldurg fort which is 45 km from Solapur is a tourist spot worth visiting in Solapur too. With so many places to visit, Solapur tourism truly has potential with the right motivation.