There are many places on my list that are always on my plans but yet not happened, Shirdi was one of them until last month when I visited Pune. I was supposed to travel to Mumbai from here but I decided to take the trip via Shirdi. So one early morning I took an auto rikshaw to nearby bus stand and boarded a bus going to Shirdi.
If I had prior information about buses I would not have felt cheated for what I was charged. Also I thought the journey was some 2 hours long but it took forever to reach there.
The route to Shirdi is beautiful, I won’t recommend a bus journey to that place for anyone, you need to start early morning and take stops at beautiful locations outskirts and there are roadside dhabas with menu so exclusive to this region that I was not able to try.
So finally I reached Shirdi and the place was so different from what I expected. I thought of it as a peaceful secluded place but this small city was bursting with activity. Shirdi is a fully commercialized tourist location with people ready to fool you on name of god. You can get cheated if you are visiting here for first time, with shopkeepers asking you to deposit your luggage at their shops and blackmailing you in process to buy puja material from their place. There is a huge cloak room by temple authorities that deposit your luggage and valuables for nominal charge so don’t get fooled by these shopkeepers.
The queue for Darshan was not long and it took some 2 hours to reach the main temple hall, I was amazed by how efficiently everything was managed inside the temple. There were small counters offering water and snacks. After completing darshan I took my luggage and started looking for something to eat (yes I decided to fast until darshan was complete.) but I was disappointed by the quality and price of food in restaurants, I took a walk away from temple and found a small eatery to eat where food was fresh and for genuine price.
I had one complete day remaining, I came across the car services offering a visit to Shingnapur and back. Shingnapur is the fabled village protected by Lord Shani where people don’t put doors in their houses and yet there is no theft case here. When travelling to this place you should stop to drink Sugarcane juice that still use bulls to crush sugarcane instead of machines.
This place turned out to be another commercialized temple business with shopkeepers blackmailing you to buy material to please god as if they only know what god wants and how to please him. I avoided buying anything from any of such shops and walked towards the temple. Although I was more interested in visiting the village but that couldn’t happen.
I went to temple and looked around a bit of surrounding, there were houses with no doors and residents believed that this city is protected from thieves and likes of them. But then who’ll loot a village where every shopkeeper is trying to loot you in name of god and religion.
I was quite disappointed by this trip, the Tata Sumo was so slow that it took 40 minutes to cover some 30 kilometers. I was in a WTF mode already. It was evening so took a bus to Mumbai and moved toward my next destination.