|Sabka Malik Ek|
Towards Shirdi: We left Pune after breakfast. To get out of any large town or metro such as Pune requires patience & help from GPS. Or on every turn you keep asking auto drivers. Road signs were in Marathi but in Devnagari script which made things easier. Our ride out of Pune on NH 50 & SH 10 was not so smooth as most of the roads had potholes or was under repair. And intermittent rains did not help either.
In Shirdi: To our good luck we could get a deluxe room on nominal charges in Sai Ashram which is run by Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust. Ashram is very large but neat, clean with all facilities & courteous staff. They have round the clock counter for tea/coffee/milk & bottled water on subsidised rates. A restaurant for breakfast, lunch & dinner also runs on subsidised rates. In fact on the day we were there lunch & dinner was free as some gentlemen had paid for entire stuff. Donations are against receipts. We thank & appreciate the way it is being managed by Trust.
About Shirdi: Shirdi is a small village on Ahmednagar-Manmad State Highway 10 about 85 km from Ahmednagar & 300 km from Mumbai. Sainagar Shirdi railway station has become operational since March 2009. An airport is under construction in Kakdi about 15 km away. Summers are hot & in May the temperature could go up to 40 degrees. In January it could be around 10 degrees. Monsoon time is good time as it cools the summer heat & all around it turns green. Rains are not heavy & are intermittent. Loose cotton clothes provide comfort.
Sai Baba: Not much is known of early life of Sai Baba. He was spotted around Shirdi village as a boy in deep meditation & living like an ascetic. He didn't befriend anybody & was not afraid of anybody. He disappeared for long periods but came back to Shirdi in 1858 permanently. He spent a couple of years under a neem tree ignoring heat & cold. Subsequently he was persuaded to take up shelter in an old dilapidated mosque which he called Dwarkamayi. Here he kept holy fire burning as dhuni & distributed ashes which had healing powers. He shunned worldly possessions & always gave an helping hand to people irrespective of caste & religion. He left for heavenly abode in Oct 1918.
His teachings include quotes from holy scriptures of many religions. He stressed upon his followers to live a simple family life & to help each other. He is followed and respected as sadhu, saint, fakir, guru, sadguru & as an avatar. He has huge following across many religions and in many countries.
Camera, mobile and handbags are not allowed inside the temple. No need of any tout or panda to get darshan. No particular offerings are required. People were seen offering prayers, flowers or even biscuits etc which are returned as it is. More info can be had from website of Sansathan. Some photos:
|Inside the temple at the time of Kakad Aarti - morning 4.30 to 5.|
( Photo downloaded from www.shrisaibabasansthan.org )
|Shikhar of Sai Baba Temple|
|Morning time aarti at 4.30 to 5 has comparatively lesser crowd|
|Area grows lots of fruits including pomegrantes|
|Waiting for the pilgrims|
|Roads were narrow, poorly maintained & with heavy traffic. The scenery is otherwise enjoyable|
|This Ashram is having modern amenities and is very well managed by Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust. Rooms are available on nominal service charges & can be booked on internet|
|Shirdi is full of contradictions - this road has tongas, bullock carts & BMWs|