This time I promise to keep you guys posted on the must visit destinations of India.
Last weekend I along with a group of 14 people and two small kids ventured on a divine journey to seek blessings of Shirdi ke Sai Baba. A night journey is most suggested for people heading to Shirdi. Take a Volvo bus or a car, start by 10 pm and reach by 4 am, before the Kakad arti, which starts from 5 am in the morning. However, our plan didn’t quite go on this route.
We started the journey on Saturday night after midnight and reached Shirdi at 6 in the morning. Since its monsoon, at least season per say, we decided to take a non-AC 17-seater minibus/van. Honestly, the van was not quite uncomfortable to sit for long hours. There was no arm rest and the seats were not adjustable. The leg space was small and all in all, I wouldn’t recommend a minivan for more than 10 people. Especially if you travel with small toddlers ensure to check the vehicle before hiring one.
After reaching our destination, we checked into a nearby hotel to freshen up. Most hotels offer warm water for a specific time period, ensure you ask the manager before taking the keys. Don’t go to a fancy hotel and get cheated. Take one that is charging reasonable as you just want it for an hour’s time. The room was fine, but the washroom was pathetic.
Anyways, we took turns to take bath and were ready by 7.30 am. Once we left the room, we walked to our minivan to keep our belongings (phone, camera, etc)., and our shoes. Remember, you cannot carry these things inside the temple and hence, make sure to hire a trustable driver. We stood in the line by 8 am without any breakfast, thinking we will be done earlier and can eat after the Darshan. But, we were in a for a surprise. The visitors’ line was too long as it was a Sunday and we learnt our lesson. Never go to Shirdi on a Sunday or else, visit before 6 am.
We stood there for more than five hours with no food. Luckily, there were vendors selling water and biscuits, which kept us alive. Beware of thugs who promise to take you inside the temple in less than hour through some special gate. These guys loot you of money and make you stand in lines for hours. Don’t fall in the trap and take care of your belongings. It is better not to carry costly stuff inside as the number of people inside the temple are huge.
We could get inside the temple only after a decent five hour wait. Through the journey, I could list the following lessons:
Never plan your Shirdi trip on a Sunday, especially if you lack patience.
Don’t take small kids along, less than a year toddler is a no-no.
Stick to the schedule, reach early before 5 am and get done fast.
Stay in group, there is no way of communicating others if you lose track so stay close-knitted.
The journey doesn’t end here. Though we were done with darshan by 2 pm, we couldn’t get anything to eat by 4.30 pm. Lots of confusion, anger and temperaments followed …
Stay tuned as we ventured to Vani temple, Nashik, after seeking blessing from Baba! OM SAI RAM J