How old is the original Vitthal idol in Pandharpur?

Vitthal Temple Pandharpur is believed to have been built by the king of the Hoysala Empire namely Vishnuvardhana at the request of Bhakta Pundalik who is a historical figure.

An old inscription dated 1237 has been found on an inscription of the Vitthal temple at present day Pandharpur. It is written that the Hoyasa king Somesvara gave a village as a gift.

But many historians believe that the Vitthal temple was built before the thirteenth century. The name Pandurang is found on a copper plate of the sixth century Rashtrakuta Empire. So it seems that this temple may have been built in the 6th century.

In the 14th century, when Malik Kafur of the Bahmani Empire destroyed the Hoysala and Yadav empires, the Vitthal idol at Pandharpur was transferred to the Vijayanagara empire. But after the Battle of Talikota, the Hampi Empire collapsed, although today Hampi is famous as a masterpiece of sculpture and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When Vijayanagara king Krishna Devaraya felt that Pandharpur was safe, he entrusted the idol of Vitthala to Saint Bhanudas and thus the idol was brought back to Pandharpur. In this way, two sectarian devotees of Vitthala, Varkaris and Haridas, were formed. Varkaris are devotees from Maharashtra and Haridas are from Karnataka.

Still no one knows how old Vitthal’s idol is.

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