To begin with, it was my birthday and it was one of the best experience of my life by spending two days travelling and visiting two very recognized temples in Maharashtra. I want this article to be read as a guide so that when you make your next trip to Shirdi, you will be able to enjoy it at the very best. I want to share each and every single detail that I have lived and experienced which will definitely help you to reach out to that place and make the most out of it. I’m also going to share accommodation, transportation, money saving tips, food and suggested budget to make your next visit to Shirdi enjoyable and comfortable. This post is more like a HOW TO guide to visit Shirdi Sai Baba Temple and have the best experience of your life.?
Highlights: The Plan Never Works Out
As everyone makes a plan before their visits, I did it too. I along with my friend Priyanka and Uncle were planning to visit Shirdi via Car and everything was set. Just the night before I checked all the car papers and found that the car insurance has been expired. Also, the car wipers were not proper. I had to drop the plan and look for an alternate. I gave an intimation to Priyanka that we might have to take a bus tomorrow because the weather is not suitable for car and also the insurance has been expired. She said – Yes? you learned a lesson today, always stay updated, don’t leave things at the last moment. A good advice for the moment 😀
The next day there was no plan at all. This is how it started, here’s a glimpse of it,
There are a lot of places where you can find an affordable accommodation. There are various hotels widespread near the temple and starts with a minimum Rs. 50 for a day’s stay. However, the choices are not limited. There are plenty of choices for all type of people depending on their spending limits. The Sai Sansthan is doing a great job by providing accommodation to all devotees who visit there. They offer private rooms starting from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500 (AC Rooms). The best way to book an accommodation for you is through their website. But for this, you must be ready with a date for your visit well before a week because the rooms fill up quickly. The room is built to provide accommodation to 3 people at least but there is no compulsion, you alone can book a room and stay there if this is what you prefer. I booked an AC Room for Rs. 500 a day for 3, with all the facilities such as 24-hour water, Geyser, beds and blankets. Rooms were very clean and spacious. It is a well made and organized facility.
Website to book a room: Online Room Booking
Here is the photo of the place where we stayed. Not the room but the place. The place is filled with life and greenery and it feels amazing to take a nice walk in the evening and morning.
I have a little gift for you. I have created a list which will help you to track all your expenses from your trip. Simply, enter your email address below and you will get the password to the free resource page where you will have access to multiple tools and e-books that too for free of cost.
It is very cheap, infact, you will get it for free 3 times a day every day at Shirdi Sai Baba Prasadalaya. The amazing fact about that place is – It is one of the biggest power plant setups across all India and has been featured on Discovery channel, NAT Geo channels and various documentaries had been made on it. The whole food is cooked with the help of solar energy. At a time it is very well capable of serving more than 2000 hungry stomachs. That is a lot of free food. The food is very tasty and I’m damn sure that you will love it. I loved it. If you are visiting Shirdi, then this is one thing that you will not want to miss out.
Here is the video of that what we shot while the food was getting served. I apologise for the quality of video because cameras were not allowed in there but somehow I was able to go live on facebook 🙂 Have a look,
This is us going inside for the food.
Posted by Varun Shrivastava on Saturday, 15 July 2017
This is how the food is served in the Prasadalaya
Posted by Varun Shrivastava on Saturday, 15 July 2017
Other than that, there are various side stalls serving you with all sorts of junk food. My advice, please don’t buy that food, it is unhygienic and not at all tasty. I made a mistake of buying it. I really feel the place must be visited in its purest form and enjoy the food that they serve. So coming back to the food cost, I would say very less, Rs. 50 per day is sufficient for you.
Transportation (From Pune)
There are a lot of buses that run all throughout the day. There are also state government buses that run every 45 minutes and will cost you only Rs. 280 to reach Shirdi from Pune. I would not suggest these buses if you are a luxury freak because it will take multiple stops in between and will take more than 5.5 hours to reach the destination. However, if you are more of a traveller kind of guy who likes to view outside while travelling and enjoy a regular lifestyle then please go ahead and take the bus you will love it.
In our case, as I said there was no plan in place. We reached the Shivaji S T Bus Stand and it was like everything was already planned for us. A guy came to us and offered us Luxury Volvo Sleeper bus for only Rs. 350. However, the destination was not Shirdi but Shani Shignapur. Then and there we made a slight alteration to our existing plan and decided to visit Shani Shiganapur first. It is another recognised temple of Maharashtra. It took us around 3.5 hours to reach Shani Shignapur from Pune. The journey was very smooth and easy. I loved the travel 🙂
Here’s a video of us travelling to the temple after getting off the bus. The temple was around 2km inside the village. Take a look,
On d Way to shignapur
Posted by Priyanka Yadav on Monday, 17 July 2017
Fun fact about Shani Shignapur: There are houses built without doors and the amazing thing about it is that there are no registered theft cases since 2010. It happens only in India.
After worshipping Shani Temple, we rented a Toyota for Rs. 90 per head to reach Shirdi. Shirdi is about 80Km from Shani Shignapur and it took us about 1.5 hours to reach. The driver drove like hell (very fast). It was again pretty smooth and awesome. The place is filled with sugarcane mills and smells so pungent but you will love the view. There is greenery all around. The people are so calm as if they have all the time in the world. There was no sense of urgency inside them. The faces looked tension free which is very unlikely as compared to the faces of people in Pune 😀
We reached shirdi around 5PM in the evening. And directly went to Bhaktinivas Sai Sansthan, that is where we had our accommodation. We were tired from the day’s travel and needed to rest our bodies immediately.
Rs. 1200 – Rs. 1500 per person for a complete 2 days journey and stay including Shani Shignapur. (Note: This is suggested budget assuming you are staying at Sai Sansthan, eating food from the Prasadalaya (not from fancy hotels), and using non-ac public transportation and follow all the money saving tips that I share.)
Money Saving Tips
Find the Cheap Eats
In India, finding cheap eats is not that difficult (given you are true Indian). Just stick with the traditional and you will be good to go. Eat Indian Cucumber (Kheera) from Shani Shignapur, its amazing there. They locally grow this cucumber in their farm and serve you with awesome salt and masala (spices). It is like a flower full of water. It’s very very tasty. It adds to the taste especially when you have not eaten anything for long. The most amazing thing is that it will only cost you 10 bucks. The size of that kheera is rather big and it is filled with water? ummm.. Yummy. You must also eat corns as it is healthy and rich in Vitamin A, B and C. Also, it contains fibre which will help you to prevent constipation problem that people face during travel. On top of that, it will cost you less and provide more value for money.
Prefer Indian meals over a high fancy meal which will have fewer nutrients value and more price. Indian meals are the best thing if you are on a travel. It keeps your mind and stomach fresh and healthy. Avoid Chowmean noodles and stuff like that.
If you follow these tips then you are sure to save a lot of money.
Bargain on Transportation
Always bargain on the price to get the most value out of it. They usually speak high rates and if you are going to agree on whatever price they say, you are sure to end up paying a lot more than what is usual. After all it is your hard earned money and you will need it for other important things. Always try to save big on transportation.
Say NO to everything outside
Say NO to almost everything people tell you and say YES to everything that comes from inside. This is the mantra for travel. Learn to say big fat NO on the faces of people. You will notice the power and importance of it when you will reach Shirdi Temple and people will call you put your mobile phones and other stuff in their place. Buy prasad from their shop and stuff like that. Just say a big fat loud NO to them and you will enjoy each and every moment of your visit. Do not spend a lot on prasad because almost everything is available at the Sai Mandir for much less. Always go for the quality over ease. You will see it once you visit there. Just let yourself mix with their culture and your will start enjoying. ?
Best Things I Found In Shirdi Sai Baba
Sai Baba Prasadalaya
I had never seen so many people eating together at one centralised location three times a day. I was mesmerised to see such a huge quantity of food getting cooked for more than 2000 people 3 times a day. That was amazing. I would insist if you have extra time in your hand then do ask for a tour of the factory. It will mesmerize you by the quantity of food that is made every day.
Sai Baba Sculpture
Once you go inside the temple, just try to look at the Sai Baba Sculpture closely. You will see a real person sitting there. The sculpture is so fantastically made keeping in mind all the minute details. The size of the sculpture is just about the size of a real Sai Baba. The temple is made of gold and the place is filled with richness and peace.
The ventilation system inside the temple is of top notch. With such a huge crowd gathered inside such a small room, it is very difficult to maintain such level of oxygen and freshness inside the room. I really found it amazing. I could see the trace of technology at every step inside the temple which was a great experience to see and learn.
Things I did not like in Shirdi
Originality of the place is lost
The whole place has been commercialised. There is a big Sai Complex right in front of the Sai Temple. There are so many shops, restaurants and places which destroy the true nature and the vibe of that place. The place is nowhere close to what it was at the time of Sai Baba. The originality of the place is gone. There are vehicles all around, dirt, pollution and the feeling were like we have come to yet another city instead of a pilgrimage.
In my opinion, the originality of the place must be kept intact for their devotees to feel the same sense of empathy towards their Guru. The more that place is getting commercialised the more it is getting polluted by the externals. The junk food which is so easily available along the roadside is not what Sri Sai Baba had when he was living in that place. Please share your views in the comments below if you agree with me on this one.
Hunger for money than devotion
I had two instances where I got very angry.
The first instance was when we were told the lie in order to sell the prasad. They sold us a 2 chaddar and told us that it is to be put on Sai Baba inside the temple, which is a complete lie. The chaddar is not to be put on Sai Baba rather the Chaddar is to give it as a donation to the temple itself. The donated chaddar will again come to the market and will be sold by the same people to some other person. This is a fantastic business model that I saw in Shirdi. The same thing is rotated and sold again and again to different people. The cost of that chaddar was Rs. 200 which was unacceptable for me. Instead of that, I was supposed to buy prasad and distribute it among my friends, family and people there.
Just remember to SAY NO ON THE FACE
The second instance was when I reached back to my stay (Bhaktiniwas). I got late by 15 minutes to reach the room. I was tired from the darshan and then to I packed my stuff in hurry and left the room at 12:15PM which means I was late by 30 minutes. As I was approaching the reception to return the keys, a guy came and started asking for extra charge for the room for the entire day. Also, the tone of the guy was very ferocious and not acceptable for me.
(Note: The rooms are allotted for 23 hours for ex – from 12:00 PM to 11:00 AM. They tend to create an illusion of 24 hours so don’t get fooled by that. Read the receipt carefully.)
I still remember word by word conversation that happened with him. Let’s call him Guy X (because I don’t remember his name correctly), Guy X: You will have to pay extra for the room for the entire day. (rude tone)
Me: And why is so, just because I spent half an hour in packing and leaving the room.
Guy X: It is a rule. You have exceeded the time and even if you stayed for 5 minutes more you have to pay for the entire day. (rude tone)
Me: Are you trying to pick a fight with me. Please mind your tone. And also it is written on your website that I will be intimated about the extra charges well before the time expires. You should have called me and told me about it. (loud tone)
Guy X: I don’t get paid enough to call each and every one of the visitor. (rude tone)
Me: Okay? very well, let me talk to your higher management who manages it all, I will ask him to increase your salary so that you can make your work related calls at least. Give me the number and let me talk to him personally.
Guy X: This is the rule and you will have to pay. (little low than before)
(I picked up his emotion that he is trying to get the money from us and that is all)
Me: I don’t want to talk to you, please call your manager (I reached my phone to him). I want to make everything clear because I’m not going to pay a penny now.
Guy X: (He acted to call someone and said GO)
Me: Thank you very much.
This is what has happened with me if this is what the case that happened with anyone of you then please take stand and don’t be an easy lad. Because, if you are visiting that place you are called a devotee, and it is no way polite to talk to a devotee like this. It was all about the money. I hated this thing about Shirdi very much.
Take a stand if you know you are right.
Let me know your views and experiences that you had on the way to Shirdi. Share your experience and stories in the comments below. I would love to know more about it as I plan to visit Shirdi next time.
Here’s me signing off with an umberella and zuckerberg smile 🙂