All of us know that Shirdi is the land of Sai baba and every year lakhs and lakhs of people go on a pilgrimage to Shirdi. Last year I got the opportunity to visit Shirdi and Sai Mandir.
Before reaching there I had to do an extensive research on the travel options, dharshan facilities etc., I was also very skeptical about the food and lodging options there. This triggered me to blog about my travel.
Shirdi is a small town located in Ahemadnagar district in the state of Maharashtra. It is famous for its Sai Mandir.
How to reach:
Shirdi is accessible by road, rail and air. We took a flight from Chennai to Pune and travelled to Shirdi via car. There are many cab operators from Pune airport and our operator charged Rs.4500 for our one way travel. We had already booked the cab online. Several private and government buses ply from Pune to Shirdi. The other nearest airports to Shirdi are at Aurangabad and Mumbai.
Several private and government buses ply from the other cities in Maharashtra like Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Aurangabad and Nagpur.
Shirdi is also well connected by rail and it has its own railway station. This connects Shirdi to all the major cities of Maharashtra.
From Pune we drove through Ahmednagar to reach Shirdi and it took us almost 4.5 hours.
Day 1: We boarded the early morning Spicejet flight to Pune and our cab was already waiting for us in the airport. We reached Shirdi by 11.30 AM. We had already booked a hotel through MakeMyTrip.com.
Where to stay?
There are many hotels in Shirdi that offer lodging facilities. Shri Sai Baba Sansthan trust also offers accommodation and the rooms can be booked in their website. We stayed in Hotel Yog Palace and it was near to the Mandir. The rooms were very neat and clean. One drawback is they do not have their own restaurant. But next to Yog Palace, there is a south indian hotel (Hotel Iyappa) run by Ramachandran ji and he serves very tasty food. We stayed in Shirdi for 4 days and on all the days we had our breakfast in hotel Iyappa.
Where to eat?
Hotel Iyappa offers very tasty south indian food at a lower cost.
Mukta food court near the temple offers authentic north Indian cuisine.
The best restaurant in Shirdi is “Sai Neivedyam”, just opposite to the Mandir.
We had booked for darshan (Aarthi ticket) on the day 1 itself as we had plans of visiting other places on the following days. Tickets for darshan can be booked online through the Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan trust website. They have two types of tickets: Dharshan and Aarthi. We had booked tickets for night Aarthi.
There is also a regular darshan queue and people start gathering there by 04:30 AM as the Mandir opens at 04:00 AM. Darshan begins at 07:00 AM.
Before going to dharshan, cell phones have to be kept in the lockers provided by the trust. Though it is near to the temple, I suggest leaving them in the hotel room itself.
What to see in Shirdi?
1. Sai samadhi Mandir
2. Khandoba temple
6. Lendi gardens
There are other small temples near the Samadhi Mandir.
On Thursdays pallaku seva takes place where Sai baba portrait is taken from Samadhi Mandir to Dwarakamai. From there it is taken to Chawari and it returns back to the Sai baba Samadhi Mandir.
We visited the Mandir and other places twice, on Day 1 and Day 3.
Watch out for my next post to read about the temples visited on Day 2.