Saturday, September 10, 2011

Trip to abode of Sai baba - Shirdi

One fine day I got a call from Papaji, asking me if I was ready for a trip to Shirdi. Doing puja or praying is not part of my daily curriculum unlike my mother or my younger brother but I dont miss opportunity to visit temples. As they say (You cannot visit temple or a shrine unless Apke liye Bulawa nahi aata) 

Papaji has been my friend since our days in Convergys, We and other team members have spent many of our weekends at Papaji's house when he was a bachelor, At times taking team briefing or discussing our team performance on drinking sessions. After getting married and now proud father, has now changed to a sober family man & quite religious.

Mrs papaji was not accompanying Papaji along in the trip, would not allow papaji to drive his SUV for long distance if not accompanied by one of few family friends and I was one of them.

So here I was in papaji's SUV off to Shirdi. We have been to Shirdi quite few times and we normally take overnight halt in Nasik or Sinnar on our way back or before visiting Saidham. Shirdi being 300 kms from Mumbai and usually driving such long distance, standing for a darshan and again coming in one day becomes quite hectic and too tiring.

It was month of June and rains had not yet arrived in Mumbai - Nasik belt. We left Mumbai in papaji's SUV in mid afternoon and by the time we reached Nasik, it was getting dark as sun wanting to go home earlier in June evenings as compared to summer days. It had also started pouring light showers.

The road to Nasik in the rains or after rains is most scenic with lush green mountains till the eyesight can reach.

We decided to halt at our usual Hotel Panchvati which is quite famous in Nasik. With nothing to do in evening, we were off for quick dinner and a walk. I cannot resist the chance of doing some purchase for home when I am outstation, So here I was with my resins, Nasik chiwda purchase.As grapes being one product Nasik is famous for, you get good quality dry grapes or resins and wine, But alcohol being strictly prohibited in my house, was not my list.

We had decided to get up as early at 6am so after another 90km drive from Nasik to Shirdi, We could be in line for darshan early as it could take anything from 2 hours to even 4hours in queue for darshan depending upon the season. But we could barely open our eyes by 8am, We were ready by 9.30am were off to Shirdi.
On our way, we got lured by Nasik - Ozhar road !!!!!!!!, I mean we got deviated from usual Nasik - Shirdi road and by the time we were deep 50kms inside that we realised that road doesn't seem to be the one we usually take while going to Shirdi !!!!  But worth mentioning is amazing road which passes by India'a airforce base and is traffic less. On checking with some locals and helpful aunty who stopped her car and asked her son to get the correct direction for us from the locals by communicating in rural Marathi. Going back 50kms to Nasik and taking another 80Kms to Shirdi didn't seem to be feasible and locals asking us to take the bypass road passing through rural villages which would be much faster.
So we were now on our adventure trip passing through grapes field and some small villages. We noticed at times villages with only handful of shops and houses. With papaji playing his collection of punjabi music at full volume, The ride was turning out to be amazing one. We passed through one river which locals called "GANGA GODAVARI" The bridge over the river was small but the view of the river and the canal passing below was amazing. I always carry my camera on my trips as we never know whats in store for me to capture in my lens.We stopped the car and enjoyed some moments on the banks of the river, capturing the place in my lens.

 Later while doing some google search, found that the river which we passed by originates at Trimbak near Nasik and swells into second largest river in India flowing for more than 1400 kms and joins Bay of Bengal flowing through Andhra pradesh. "The Godavari river". I still get that "WOW" feeling when I watch those moments captured in my lens on the banks of the river, not knowing at that time that we were on banks of second largest river in India !!!!

 On moving further, we came across a village called LASENGOAN which had some huge row houses and Axis and Icici bank branches bigger than some in Mumbai !!! Amazed at such a rich village, We sensed rural India was on road to progress. Some months later, when Onion prices were hitting the outer space !!!!! noticed Lasengoan being mentioned in economic times news paper only to realise later that its a cash rich village near Nasik producing bulk of Onions in India and with prices touching sky high, it was reaping the MOOLAH !!!!!! 

Reached Shirdi by afternoon and we were quickly in line for darshan, which took around 2hours. But the Sai Dham complex has been expanded to accommodate devotees so nicely that 2hours didn't pinch us much. Darshan was amazing with Sai Baba shining in full gold glory as being one of the richest temples of India. 

We were back on our way to Mumbai in afternoon, We stopped at our usual stop on our way back at  highway dhaba after Kasara ghat for some finger licking food and beer. Mumbai - Nasik highway needs real mention especially the Kasara Ghat which till few years back was one pain road to drive on has now been made into amazing highway of 4 lanes. So driving is some much fun and timeline for the journey reduced by as much as 2-3 hours one way.

Papaji and I have been visiting Shirdi every 6-8 months in his SUV and on one of other trips to Shirdi, while coming back from Sinnar, we took a Nasik bypass road to Mumbai. Enroute we came across a wind farm on surrounding hills. Amazed and curious to look at wind farm, first for me !!!! We drove on the hill, capturing India's progress in green technology generating energy from Winds.

The trips to Shirdi with Papaji have always been fun and memorable, We have never been able to plan for the trip in advance but almost all our trips to Shirdi have been spontaneous decision, usually on weekly offs for a drive to abode of Sai and to get blessing from "SAI". As they say "You cannot visit Baba jab tak bulawa nahi aata" 

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