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Impromptu visit to Shirdi - abode of Shree Saibaba.

Discussion in 'Travelogues & Experiences' started by Arryan, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. Arryan

    Arryan Regolare

    Linea 1.3
    Background :

    The state elections were scheduled in Chhattisgarh for 19th November, 2013. The schools were closed for three days because of the election and my office was closed on the election day (under the NI Act), moreover this time we would not be able to cast our vote anyway. This was a perfect opportunity to plan and execute a short trip to Shirdi, which we were planning to visit for the last few years but could not make it. Nobody (read Wife) opposed the idea and the plan was finalized to start on 17-11-2013 and return by 20-11-2013, so that my son would resume his school from 21st. Checked Tripadvisor for the hotel and booked a room in the “Marigold Regency”. The route was checked from the net and the latest information on the road condition dated back to 2008.

    The Journey (17/11/2013) :

    Started the journey at 03:15AM from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh and proceeded through the Durg - Bypass on NH6 crossing Rajnandgaon (40KM) till Bhandara (193KM). The border checkpost at Baghnadi sometimes causes trouble but today it was clear, however there was a security checking at the state border. I presume it was because of the state elections. The road till Bhandara is good 4 laned (except for three streaches, where the road is 2 laned), but the portion from Bhandara to Outer Ring Road, Nagpur (240 KM) is in terrible condition due to the 4-laning job going on in that part.

    The outer ring road surrounding Nagpur, till the point it joins NH6 again at Gondakhairi is 43KM in length. The ORR till Jamtha is beautiful 4 lane but the rest is again 2 laned. It was while crossing this beautiful streach we wanted to take some photos and in the process found out that wife's vanity case has not been loaded in the car. I stopped and searched the boot and the backseat to confirm the same and everyone's face was like a big "O" :shocked. I tried to assess the situation as we had covered a considerable distance in the four hours. Returning back meant that the whole plan would go for an absolute toss as we would easily loose eight hours minimum and there was no question of reaching Shirdi on the same day. Apart from the cosmetic items and medicines it contained our ID cards and Credit / Debit cards and the Camera. Luckily I had withdrawn money from the ATM last night and the debit card was still in my purse, so one problem gone. We had booked the darshan tickets in wife's name and her PAN card was given as her ID; her DL was with us and we decided to take a chance here. But the most important thing that we missed was my Driving License, it had been put in the card holder/ pouch the previous night. I realised that I had committed a terrible mistake by not putting the DL along with the other papers of the car and cannot blame anyone except myself for this lapse :A. After some thought I decided to carry on and in case some checking happens on the route then wife has to drive but any photos for the journey was ruled out without the camera.

    We crossed Nagpur around 07:00AM and Amravati (423KM) around 10:00AM. The road from Nagpur to Amravati via Talegaon was smooth as usual and we stopped for breakfast at a dhaba on the bypass. The road condition after the Amravati bypass was broken at several places. We then crossed Badnera, Loni and after Nagzari just as the NH6 took a right turn towards Akola, we continued straight for Karanja (470 KM) on SH212. Before entering the town of Karanja, we joined SH207 and went straight to Mekhar (579 KM). I missed the Mehkar bypass and crossed through the town towards Jalna. We crossed through Bibi and SindKhed Raja along SH177 and reached Jalna outskirts (667 KM) where the road was in very bad condition. However, the Jalna Aurangabad road (after Jalna) was in decent condition and we crossed Aurangabad(730 KM) at around 03:45PM. We tried to locate the Vithal Kamat's restaurant on the Jalna-Aurangabad road but failed to find it, however after crossing the cantonment area we stopped at a road side dhaba / garden restaurant for our lunch. We had our home made lunch there with tea from the dhaba at 04:00PM. Overall the SH after Amravati to Aurangabad was pretty decent except for some patches inside the towns, where the roads are broken and the Jalna bypass where the roads are in horrible condition.

    The 70KM road from Aurangabad to Vaijapur was in pathetic condition, the top layer of the road was completely eroded. A friend had already warned that the road from Aurangabad to Shirdi was in terrible condition and suggested to take a detour from Vaijapur to Yeola and then Shirdi, so I presumed that this portion of the road would be OK. It took us something more than two and a half hours to cross this 70 Km streach. The road from Vaijapur to Yeola (25KM) and Yeola to Khopargaon (19KM) was good but from Khopargaon to Shirdi (14KM) was again in very bad condition. We finally reached hotel Marigold Regency at Shirdi (858 KM) around 08:00PM.

    Just as we left the NH6 after the Amravati bypass and entered the SH, the MMI started behaving very strangely. Initially Shirdi was given as the destination and it was struck with the idea of going through Akola. Then I changed the destination to Aurangabad, the MMI was verbally instructing to go just in the opposite direction. After some time the devise had to be turned off and the result was that we had to stop and ask for direction on several occasion. Road signage was visible in the initial portion upto Karanja and again near Jalna and upto Aurangabad, but in the middle portion there was no roadsigns.

    Total Distance Covered : 858 KM.
    Total Time Taken : 17 Hours.

    The Route followed :

    Outer Ring Road, Nagpur.

    - - - Merged Post - - -

    The Hotel :

    The Marigold Regency hotel at Shirdi is not a very big one but is elegantly designed and has a secured and free parking for the visitors. The hotel is within walking distance from the temple and also provides a free drop and pickup from the temple for its guests. This service is not restricted to the temple only and they will provide you a free drop or pickup to /from anywhere within the city. The staff / employees are polite, friendly and serves with a smile and that makes a great difference when you're on a trip with your family. The restaurant provides good food at reasonable rates, but the breakfast options are limited for a hotel of this standard. My only grouse with the hotel is that they charge extra for children above five years and the extra bed provided is nothing but a mattress on the floor. We got a rebate of around 30 percent on the tariff which made it extremely value for money.

    I would recommend this hotel for members planning to visit Shirdi.

    The Darshan (18-11-2013)

    I'm not so religious minded and would specially like to avoid such maddening crowd that is generally found at prominent religious places. But my wife wanted to visit this place since last six /seven years. Every time we planned to visit Shirdi there was some or the other hindrances and the plan never materialised. Even my sister had on numerous ocassions during her visit to my place expressed her desire to visit Shirdi. We had heard from our neighbours and friends about the queue at the temple.

    With all those information we arrived at the temple gate at 09:00 AM. As advised by the hotel we did not carry any mobile or camera. After checking the online booking forms and the IDs we were allowed to enter through the "Shani" gate into the main building. By bypassing the normal queue we were allowed to go without any obstruction till halfway through the stairs, where the line merges with the normal queue. We had a very satisfying darshan of the samadhi and when we came out of the main temple, though the back, it was 09:30 AM. We roamed in the temple complex and visited all the other holy places like Sri Gurusthan Mandir, Lendi Baug, Nandadeep, Dwarkamai, Museum Hall and Other Samadhis.

    In the evening also we reached the temple at 04:45PM for the "Dhoop Aarti". We were made to sit in the waiting hall for some time and were allowed to enter the main temple in a queue through the same route. This time the gents and the ladies were allowed in separate queue. My son could secure a place at the front (nearest to the idol) and I got a place at the side barricade, however my wife was a little behind but got a place at the side from where she could view the idol clearly. From our vantage positions we enjoyed the aarti, which continues for half an hour, after which the barricades were removed to allow darshan of the idol.

    Overall we had a very satisfying day at the Sai Baba temple, enjoyed the darshan and the serenity of the temple premises. The main purpose to coming at such a time to avoid the maddening crowd, finally paid off. We went to the CCD outlet nearby for some snacks and tea and the hotel car picked us from there.

    - - - Merged Post - - -

    The return from Shirdi (19-11-2013)

    On the morning we got up leisurely and packed our bags, ready to leave Shirdi. We had our complimentary breakfast at the hotel, paid the bill and was out on the road by 09:45AM. The first destination for the day was Shani Shingnapur which is 73 KM from Shirdi. The roads after Shirdi were in bad condition and it took one-and-a-half hours to cover this distance. We visited the temple and there was not much crowd and then left for Aurangabad at a distance of 81 KM on SH 60 that connects Ahmednagar and Aurangabad. The road was good and does not pass through any town and was therefore not crowded with the autos and two wheelers till one reaches the outskirts of Aurangabad. We could cover this distance within one hour and went straight to the Daulatabad fort.

    The Ellora Caves remain closed on Tuesday and so planned to visit the forts and other monuments around Aurangabad and spend the night there. On one side my son was elated to visit the historic monument about which he has read in his books, my wife was unwilling to climb the steep stone stairs to see a "khandahar". While my wife waited near the main entrance, I and my son went up the pathway to the extent possible in the scorching heat. After all this exertion we decided to have our lunch and check-in in a hotel and have some rest. We had the lunch at the roadside "Fauji Dhaba" on the way to Aurangabad. We searched several decent hotels in the city (like VITS, Athiti, Ambassador Ajanta and Lemon Tree) but no rooms were available in any of the hotels. Finally after being turned down at Lemon Tree, I decided (like a motorhead) enough is enough, I'll drive down to Amravati. It was 04:15 PM and if we do not waste any more time we can reach Amravati safely by 10:30PM (max.).

    First worry was whether the road was safe to travel after darkness with the family and second was the peculiar behavior of the MMI. Called up a colleague and got a confirmation that the road was safe for travel with family and the decision being made, we set-off for Amravati. The destination was set in the MMI stepwise (First Mehkar, then Karanja, then Amravati) and it functioned as desired. We crossed Jalna, Sindkhed Raja, Bibi by SH177 and by the time we reached Mehkar darkness had already set in. From Mehkar we took SH 207 and passed through Malegaon, Nagartas, Shevti to Karanja at 09:00PM. We took a tea break at Karanja and continued through Kamargaon then NH6 at NagZari, Amravati bypass and stopped at Hotel Gauri Inn, Rahatgaon, Amravati on NH6 exactly at 10:30PM.

    The restaurant in the hotel is open upto midnight, so had a good dinner after freshening up and retired for the day. The room rent was 2K for the night including taxes and extra charges for the child (though we did not take any extra bed) and secured parking.

    Total Distance travelled : 429 KM (from Shirdi).

    To Home (20-11-2013)

    Actually the decision to come to Amravati seemed beneficial in many ways; firstly there was no hurry to start early the next day, secondly none was too tired from the journey on the final day and my son could attend his school on the next day (which eventually was an exam day) without any tantrums and I too attended my office as normal.

    Half of the return journey being over, we started casually at 10:00AM from Amravati. There is nothing to mention here as it is smooth 4 laned NH all the way except for the Nagpur-Bhandara portion. The rear tyre of a truck burst on the road within Bhandara town just as we were crossing each other in the opposite direction. The car received a lot of minor scratches on the doors as a lot of debris from the road flew in all directions due to the tyre burst, but nothing I could do about. Reached Bhilai at 03:45 PM, had our lunch at a roadside dhaba and my Linea safely brought us home at 04:30PM.

    Total Distance travelled : 442 KM.

    Overall Distance Covered in the trip : 1729 KM.
    Average Mileage for the whole trip : 17.3 KMPL.

    Thanks Giving

    Before I end this travelogue, a big Thanks for my Linea for enduring all the pains and bringing us safely back to home. The Linea performed brilliantly on all types of surface starting from the super smooth 4 laned NHs to the non-existent roads between Bhandara & Nagpur to the decent to very bad roads of Maharashtra SHs. It also covered the distance from Auranagabad to Amravati through some remote areas with no facilities what-so-ever in complete darkness. Every time I take the Linea out on such drives on the highway, it gives me immense pleasure and a fatigue free journey. It is only because of the Linea that I can muster the courage to cover such long distances in a day and my friends have now openly started calling me "truck driver".

    The toll details on the way :

    Shirdi toll details.jpg
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  2. pabhishek

    pabhishek Esperto

    Linea T-Jet
    Sorry to update this old thread, but cant help after reading a trip that includes my hometown :)

    Nice Write-up Arryan. Thank God you had the cash/debit card with you owise your trip plan would be in for a toss.
    And now i know where you live in bhilai :D One of my college friend also lives there .

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