Shirdi is a small town in the Ahmednagar district of the Indian state of Maharashtra. But this small town is not like any other small town, its abode to the Sai Baba.
Sai Baba was a great monk who was revered by both Hindus and Muslims. No verifiable information is available regarding Sai Baba’s real name, place or time of birth. He arrived in Shirdi and priest at the Khandoba temple addressed him as “Sai”. Henceforth, he was known as Sai Baba.
Sunrise at Shirdi
For a long time, I had wish to visit Shirdi but did not happen. But during the year end holidays of 2015, I made my mind to visit Shirdi for Sai Baba’s darshan and explore nearby places. I looked the option of train, but one need to book in advance. Since 2009 Shirdi has it own railway station called Sai Nagar Shirdi. Other nearest railway station is Kopergaon (16 km).
So I took the bus option and booked on VRL AC sleeper through RedBus. I set the travel date on Monday so that I could negate the weekend over pricing. Still it cost Rs 1500 per person from Bangalore to Shirdi. However, the travel time of 17 hours becomes more bearable with a sleeper coach. The departure time was at 11.30 AM. We booked a Ola cab to VRL’s Anand Rao circle bus station to board the bus.
VRL’s service is pretty good and the bus was comfortable. I found they had provided individual LED TVs but unfortunately they did not work. On the way they halted at one of their transit center. They run so many buses and transport vehicles that it perfectly makes sense to create transit centers which can act as refreshment center. Ultimately, its adding to their revenue. It looks to me VRL is trying to create a transport ecosystem of their own.
We reached Shirdi around 6 AM. Our room was already booked at Hotel Sai Chatra via Cleartrip.com. We walked to the hotel from where the bus stopped. I had kept day 1 at Shirdi only for Sai Baba’s darshan. I was expecting less rush on a Tuesday but it was a year end. After getting fresh at hotel, we went to Sai Baba temple complex, which was at a walk able distance from the hotel. First, we went to PR office and got pass for VIP darshan for Rs 100 per person. There was queue here and one has to produce a government provided ID to procure the pass. Also, they photograph the personals here. Pass for VIP darshan can also be booked online at: http://shrisaibabasansthan.org.in/
People with VIP darshan pass need to enter from gate # 2. Here after, one need to reach the Shani gate and get in the queue for darshan. But for us to reach that gate became big task as the security guards we asked kept on doing here / there. Once we reached there, we were told, aarti is going now and darshan will start again at 1.30 PM. With no choice, we waited. In the meantime, we saw temple of Lord Shani, Lord Shiva, gurusthan, samadhi mandir from outside, dwarkamai, chavadi, garden and walked around the temple complex.
I have no photo to share from inside the temple complex as photography is strictly prohibited. I suggest you to leave your camera and mobile phones at your hotel.
At 1.30 pm the queue started and we were on our way to Sai baba’s darshan. During the queue we were provide with bundi prasad. Within half an hour we were able to do the darshan. Due huge crowd, one must keep moving and darshan happens from close proximity for only few seconds. Here one can see a white marble statue of Sai baba sitting in his famous cross legged state. We thanked Sai baba and came out. Live darshan can be done online at: http://shrisaibabasansthan.org.in/darshan/shirdi-live-darshan/
We were hungry by then and wanted to have lunch. We saw hotel Food Land on the way and decided to have masala dhosa there. All I can saw is, I had the worst masala dhosa here.
Evening went out for a walk of Shirdi town. Until you walk through the town, you will never feel the essence of the town. If you are interested in buying photos or miniature of Sai Baba, buy them beside the walkways. Do bargain to get a better price.
Night we had dinner at the restaurant of Hotel Sai Chatra. Food was pretty decent. In Shirdi, you will mostly find veg food due to holy essence of this place.
Went to sleep, thanking Sai Baba and thinking about next day’s exciting Nashik trip.