Wednesday, November 27, 2013


The Sai Baba Idol that we brought home
When Venkat asked me whether I was interested in going to Shirdi for a couple of days, I jumped at the chance as it was around 18 years since our last visit to Sai Baba’s shrine.

We decided to go to Shirdi by Neeta Travels and I booked our tickets for Monday, November 25, 2013 on a Mercedes Benz. The bus left at 8.30 am from Sion. It was quite comfortable with pushback seats and an excellent AC.

We had already booked a room at Hotel Sai Moreshwar after checking the excellent ratings on In the meanwhile, the Neeta Bus attendant did his best to persuade us to book a room at Neeta International Hotel at Shirdi. We tentatively agreed that we would consider it after checking out the rooms there. We did not want to commit ourselves as we had never heard of this hotel and had not seen it recommended on the net. The man went on to make a receipt in our name – he already had my cell number as I had used it for booking the bus tickets – and insisted that we pay Rs. 1000 advance. The worst part was that he said that we had to pay up immediately as he had to get off at Thane. I don’t know what kind of fools he thought we were!

On the way
It looked like he had also approached a number of other passengers for similar deals. I don’t know for sure whether he was being honest or not, but Venkat point blank refused to pay him an advance. The man left in a huff.

The bus reached Shirdi at around 3 pm after stopping twice for breakfast and lunch on the way. Luckily for us, Hotel Sai Moreshewar was just a 2-minute walk from the bus stand and we checked in without any difficulty.

We found out the timings for darshan at Shirdi Temple and decided to go after the 5-7 pm arati got over. For those interested, the Shirdi Temple opens at 4.30 am and the last darshan is at 10.30 pm. The temple was a few minute walk from our hotel. We stopped for a snack at an Udipi restaurant and then went for the darshan.

In the garden at the hotel
Mobile phones and cameras are strictly not allowed. They have a counter where you can deposit them and get a receipt in exchange. This is right next to the shoe counter. After collecting the respective receipts, Venkat and I went to stand at the entrance queue. I have to mention that the experience was way different from what it used to be during my earlier visits.

I had been to Shirdi five times before this trip, if I am not mistaken. We used to just enter the hall and pray to Sai Baba, do namaskar, get out from behind the shrine, visit Dwarkamai, the Chavadi and the bazaar. It used to be child’s play.

Not so now! The marketing bhoot has taken over Shirdi also and the place has become extremely commercial. A guy approached us and said that darshan could take 4-5 hours and he could help us get in by a special queue. While the charges were Rs. 500 per person officially, he could give us a deal at Rs. 300 per head. We refused him as we did not have much else to do and were not too fazed by waiting for darshan for a few hours.

We were surprised to enter the temple and walk in and out of snaking queue-lines – the crowd was not much, actually. We walked round and round, went down a staircase and went up another before entering the main hall of the temple. Luckily for us, we took barely 25 minutes to reach the hall. After that, it was another 10-15 minutes before we could get near Sai Baba. There was a ratio of one security person to ten pilgrims. I felt it was atrocious. They kept pushing the devotees making it impossible to pray. One kind of tends to forget why one is visiting the temple. Marketing at its worst!

Lord Hanuman at Shirdi
All I wanted to do was connect with Sai Baba for a minute in peace. That was just not possible. I even forgot to pray. I had a good darshan in the sense I could see Sai Baba and I could touch the padukas. Before I could imbibe the atmosphere, I found myself being cast out of the hall. Venkat and I did not give up. We managed to get in again without going through the whole queue line procedure and managed to get one more darshan.

We finally managed to come out of the compound only to realise we were nowhere near where we had entered. When we showed the mobile-camera receipt to a security, he guided us to return to Gate No. 1. We had to walk for a few minutes before we found the place. There are at least six gates there to my knowledge.

The next day was Tuesday. Venkat and I hired a car to visit Shani Shingnapur. In the evening, we again went for Sai Baba’s darshan. This time round we managed to complete the darshan in 20 minutes. We also got to visit Dwarkamai, Chavadi and the market place.

I was shocked to see the dhuni (sacred fire) had been enclosed in a metal mesh on all sides. The dhuni used to be in the open – with a roof – and was a source of joy and solace to devotees. I don’t know what has come over the trustees. I could not see the dhuni at all, could just feel the heat coming off the metal.

We also had a darshan of Lord Hanuman at a shrine near Dwarkamai. We went inside the Hanuman Temple the third day morning as there was no crowd at that point.

All my prayers I managed to complete in the hotel room as it was not possible to pray at the temple.

All in all, an excellent trip with a lovely darshan! Thank you Sai Baba!


  1. Lovely Post as ususal Sundari. I totally agree with your view on commercialisation of the temple viists. I had a similiar experience few years back, when I Tirupathi. With all due respect, I have come to realise, God is in my heart and our meetings are very private... In Tirupathi after waiting in the line from morning 4:00 am, the priests there hardly allow you to pray when your reach the diety, but literly usher you out.....

    1. Hi Rubina,
      Thank you for the comment! I am glad you liked my post. Yeah, I have had similar experiences at Tirupathi too. Makes one wonder whether the effort is worth it. It's best to connect with God from our home, it seems.

  2. I havent been to Shirdi till date. They say-You go when Baba calls you, till then try as much as u can. My hubby has been there many times as a kid & all he remembers of the place is the tranquility of the place & the joy he had of running around the place freely.

    I hope to go soon.
    I had the too-much-marketing experience at our family diety Goddess Tuljabhavani at Tuljapur. Long snaking lines, money minded pandits, the unnecessary security, more of superstitious crowd creating more stupid rituals, the indian-mentality of-if you dont get there fast, there wont be any left, so rush! Hope everyone grows up !

    1. They will grow up. There is no choice as we move into the golden age. Can't wait! :)
      18 years back it was very different and I can relate to what Sunil told you. We just used to walk in and take darshan.

  3. Hi Mam, I visited your great blog today and got many information about how to visit Shirdi and even my family member are trying to go Shirdi from last two years but still couldn't possible to visit there. Now I read a lot of information through your blog post and I'll discuss with my family about this temple and garden and I'm sure, it will help to us to visit most popular destination places in Shirdi in an easy way. Thanks for this!!!!

    1. You are welcome Seema!
      Thank you for stopping by my blog and posting a comment :)

  4. Thank's Sundari , Given me great information to Shirdi...

  5. Shirdi always attract all pilgrims all over the world . and Its really a great experience to visit a religious place , thanks for sharing , Om Sai Ram .. Mansarovar Yatra

  6. Good post. Thanks for sharing. Shirdi is essentially a small overgrown village, famous because of the saint Sai Baba. Sai Baba came to Shirdi in 1858 and, as devotees say, attained samadhi (salvation) in 1918 after spending 60 years here. Check out best Shirdi tour packages for this holy place.

  7. Thanks for sharing such an excellent information regarding Shirdi tourism. It's really helpful information for those people who are planning to visit Shirdi. Daily lot of people visit Shirdi for Sai baba Darshan. I also think to visit Shirdi from Mumbai. The distance from Mumbai to Shirdi is around 250 KM.

  8. The Best Tourist Place in Shirdi tour package and Thailand tour package Shirdi tour package

  9. During my visit in Shirdi, there was heavy crowd and it took us 5-6 hours to reach the place where we could offer our prayers to Sai Baba. it was tiring, exhausting but at the same time i was feeling happy and fortunate for being able to come there. there are few other places to visit in shirdi which can delight you...

  10. Its an amazing post. This is very informative post. Thanks for sharing this post with us. hotels in shirdi near temple with rates

  11. Nice post Sundari! Your post will help others to plan theire shirdi trip. Also, I would like to share a link which may help sai devotees to plan their Shirdi trip: