Maharashtra’s two prominent paths that the devotees tread in the footsteps of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram are getting a modern facelift. The two paths are being turned into highways and will be inaugurated by the start of next year.
Union Road Surface and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari inspected the ongoing works for both Alandi to Pandharpur and Dehu to Pandharpur paths along with MP Ranjit Naik Nimbalkar. It is pertinent to note that both these paths are followed by warkaris, the devotees of Shri Vitthal of Pandharpur, every year in a tradition with a documented history of 700 years.
On March 11, Gadkari claimed that 70 per cent of work for both paths would be completed by summer and the work would be completed by December this year in his press conference in Pune after inspecting the work progress.
The devotees take out the palanquin procession from both these shrines, the samadhi places of two great saints, to Pandharpur and walk the entire stretch, some of them barefoot, to have a glimpse of their dear deity, every year in the month of Ashad.
One of the highways, from Alandi to Pandharpur, is used by Sant Dnyaneshwar Palakhi (palanquin procession), in which development work is going on from Hadapsar in Pune to Mohol in Solapur District. Notably, the stretch is 234 km long, and the current two-lane path is being expanded to a four-lane road. In addition, a separate 3.5 metres wide path is being developed for the palanquin procession to pass being developed for warkaries.
Gadkari said that the bypass roads are being constructed at Saswad, Neera, Lonand, Phaltan, Natepute and Pandharpur. The palanquin procession rests at 12 places on this way.
Another road is under development from Patas, in the Pune district, to Tondale, Bondale passing through Baramati, Indapur and Akluj. Notably, the stretch is 30 km, wherein the bypass roads are being provided at Baramati, Bavada, Akluj Shripur and Borgaon. The palanquin procession rests at 11 places on this way.
Gadkari also said that tree plantation is being done alongside both roads; statues, sculptures, frescos, murals, etc., will be created at various places. Currently, 18,838 trees have been planted along the roadside, while 57,173 trees have been planted in the middle of the road. These trees belong to the species described in Dnyaneshwari, work of Sant Dnyaneshwar, such as banyan, sandal, peepal and tamarind. The trees would not only provide a respite from the heat, but also medicinal qualities.
It is pertinent to note that the ground-breaking ceremony to commence works for the roads took place at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The cost for the Sant Dnyaneshwar palanquin procession path will be around 8000 crores rupees while that of the Sant Tukaram Maharaj palanquin procession path will be about 4500 crores rupees.
Gadkari said that the holy places of Dehu, Alandi and Pandharpur will be connected through this project. Additionally, various amenities will be provided throughout these paths with the help of the state government.