Two years back on the month of December, it was the first time when I went to Shirdi. This year was my third trip to Shirdi but the holy place still continues to amaze me with its purity and grace. This small village located in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra welcomes hundreds of Sai Baba devotees every day. I am a Sai Baba devotee and feel an immense peace of mind when I am in the holy place. From the smell of fresh flower garlands across the road to the Sai Bhajans being played in the nearby shops, everything has a feel good factor about it. The long queue at the entrance of the temple looks tiring but each one in the row beholds a smile and Sai Baba faith at heart. I can continue to write on and on about this mesmerizing holy place, but let me give a pause and just take you through my short trip to the holy land.
I reached Shirdi at 8:30 in a Saturday morning. More than 19 hours of bus travel had brought a terrible pain on my back and I was dying to go for a warm-water bath. I and my friend took an auto that cost us Rs. 60 to Hotel Sai Grand Castle, our pre-booked hotel for the trip. The hotel was quite near to the temple and the staff informed us that they would give pick and drop facility to the temple by car. Without wasting much of our time, we freshen up for the day. The hotel car dropped us till the entrance of the temple. Both I and my friend bought a small bunch of flowers as an offering for Sai Baba and joined the long queue. It took 2 hours to get a glance of the Sai Baba idol and I wish I could explain my emotions when I reached there. After the darshan, we took a round of the popular Neem tree and collected Udi from the counter.
After our darshan of Shridi Sai Baba, we booked a car towards Shani Shignapur, another temple located around 75 kms from Shirdi. It being Sani Amawas that day, the crowd was huge and there was quite a lot of security. Cars were not allowed beyond a point and devotees had to walk around 3 km to reach the temple. We took help from a person riding a bike and it was definitely a fun ride. We completed our darshan in Shani Shignapur and returned to Shirdi to our hotel.
The holy place serves the best host with yummy and affordable food ranging from Paranthas to Varapavs and Idli and Dosa and many more mouth watering dishes available in every nook and corner of the place. After relishing pure ghee paranthas, we called the day off early, as we were planning to visit the temple again for the early morning aarti. Very obediently, we got up at 4:00 am, freshen up and reached the temple for aarti. The early morning darshan was mesmerizing and it took around 1 and half hours to complete the darshan. We visited few shops after the darshan and went back to our hotel. Around 11.30, we packed our bags to bid good bye to the land and moved towards the bus stop. While boarding the bus, I looked behind and made a promise to make a visit to the land every year once till I could afford. Jai Sai Ram and our bus journey back to Bangalore started.