Shirdi is the abode of Sai Baba, one of the most revered saints of modern India. Sai Baba has followers across all religions, particularly the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Jains. People from other religions also visit Shirdi to seek the blessings of Sai Baba. In modern times, Sai Baba has been accorded the status of God, some even calling him one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. He imparted two teachings – Shraddha (faith) and Saburi (patience). If you have faith and patience, you will succeed – he said.
I have a lot of personal faith in Sai Baba. I visit Shirdi three to four times every year. I have been doing it since 2004. Whenever I feel the need to connect with HIM and have a conversation about things that mean something to me, I dash off to Shirdi.
Last week, I felt like visiting Shirdi to have a one to one conversation with HIM. I booked my bus tickets for the 10th night so that I could be in Shirdi on the 11th – a Thursday which is considered as the offering day for Sai Baba. There are a lot of devotees in Shirdi on any Thursday. Devotees come mainly from Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Being in Mumbai has its advantage in terms of visiting Shirdi. The best route to Shirdi is via the Nashik highway. Thane to Nashik is about a 2 hours journey (approx. 180 kms). Nashik to Shirdi is again roughly 2 hours journey (approx. 100 kms). Nashik to Shirdi is a narrow road and hence it takes time to cover the distance. How quickly you can reach Thane from Mumbai decides the total journey time from Mumbai to Shirdi. From Borivali, Thane is about an hour journey (approx. 40 kms). If I choose to drive my car, it takes me roughly six hours to reach from Borivali to Shirdi with a couple of breaks.
It is economical traveling by a bus when alone. I prefer to travel with Neeta Travels as I consider them very reliable. Their buses are in good condition, their drivers are good and they have good compliance policies. They have almost 12 buses running daily to and fro between Mumbai and Shirdi. So if there is any problem with any bus or you miss out on one, there are chances that you will be easily accommodated in one of their other buses. The fares are also reasonable. Non AC buses cost around 250 to 300 Rs one way. AC buses cost around 450 to 500 Rs one way. If you visit during the off-season, you can also hope to get a bargain deal like I got. I got my return fare for a VOLVO AC bus (called GARIB RATH) at Rs 550 only. A real deal as I booked online.
I took the 10 pm bus which picked me up at the Borivali National Park gate exactly at 10.05 pm. From 10 pm to 12.30 am, the bus was picking up passengers on route: borivali -> goregaon -> andheri -> santacruz -> bandra -> sion -> ghatkopar -> vikhroli -> mulund -> thane. We crossed the Thane toll plaza at about 12.30 am. And then I went into the sleep mode to be woken up at 4.45 am in Shirdi.
I picked my bags and took a hotel room to only freshen up (brush with a good warm water bath). If you are a single male, you can use the room for 30 odd minutes and have your bath. You need to pay about 50 to 100 Rs, depending on your negotiation skills with the agent. Once ready, I packed my belongings and deposited them in the cloakroom. I also deposited my mobile and footwear. You are not allowed to carry any belongings, handbags, mobile phones or cameras inside the temple. You are also not allowed to wear any kind of footwear inside.
At 5.15 am, I was standing in the queue with some roses as an offering. Sai Baba loved roses so it is the most commonly offered flower. There were roughly 500-600 people in the queue before me. It took a couple of hours before I entered the main ‘samadhi’ hall and had a close look at the idol of Sai Baba. I always feel at peace when I see the idol of Sai Baba. Once out of the ‘samadhi’ hall, I went to the ‘Mukh darshan sabha’ – a meditation hall where you can see the idol from some distance. This hall is not generally crowded. I sat peacefully for an hour and half in meditation and having my silent conversation with HIM.
It was 9 am when I came out of the temple. I had the 11 am return bus to catch. I had some breakfast, some snacks, a little bit of shopping and did some wandering before I reached the bus waiting hall of Neeta travels. The bus left at 11 am. There was a lot of traffic on the Nashik highway and in the city. I reached Borivali only at 9 pm. Thus, a visit to Shirdi from Mumbai and back can be easily managed in one day, less than 24 hours.
Books on Shirdi Sai Baba – There are many books that highlight the life and teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba in a very devout and simple manner. Some of the more engrossing and enriching books are:
- Know About Shirdi Sai Baba (Know About Series)
- Shri Sai Satcharitra: The Wonderful Life and Teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba
- Sai Baba of Shirdi: A Unique Saint
- Sai Baba of Shirdi 52 Success Facts – Everything You Need to Know about Sai Baba of Shirdi
- Shirdi Sai Baba: The divine Healer
Other Travel Information – If you do not have a hotel booking in Shirdi, you can keep all your belongings with the Sai Sansthan Trust. They charge 3 Rs per bag, 2 Rs per mobile phone and 1 Re per footwear pair. They also run a canteen that offers tea and coffee for as less as Rs 1 and Rs 2. They offer mattresses for sleeping for 50 Rs a night. The trust does this to make sure that people who cannot afford the lodging expenses can still visit and seek the blessings of Sai Baba. I haven’t seen many temple trusts do as much for the devotees. They also offer reasonably priced AC and Non AC accommodation. It has been recently renovated and worth considering option for people who are looking for reasonably priced accommodation in Shirdi.
There are many things to do in Shirdi and in the temple campus apart from praying in the main samadhi hall. There are many other temples where one can offer prayers and seek blessings. Refer to the internal map of the temple for the various other temples located in the campus.
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