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Pune India
Visit to Shani Shingnapur and Shirdi
Nov 12, 2005 04:04 PM 32049 Views
(Updated Jun 15, 2013 02:46 PM)


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The desire of visiting Shani Shingnapur and Shirdi was at the back of my mind since quite a while. So, I emailed to some friends about this. But everyone seemed to be occupied with some other plans and hence this plan languished for a few weeks.

Then abruptly, on the morning of Friday, 30 May 2003, an idea struck to me - why not go on my motorbike with my brother-Hrishikesh? From my internet research, I knew that Shirdi was 200 kms, and Shani Shingnapur 160 kms from Pune, en route to Shirdi.

I proposed my plan to my mom and Hrishikesh, and asked them to make preparations for the trip.

''We have to leave at 5-00 am tomorrow morning. Get up at 4-00 am.''

That day I came back from office at around 9-00 pm. Mom and Hrishikesh had made some preparations. In the course of things I discovered that a golden coincidence had occurred. The next day was ''Shani Jayanti'', also called as ''Shani Amavasya'', the most auspicious day for visiting the holy shrine Shani Shingnapur. Probably it was a spiritual telepathy, with God inviting me at his abode on an auspicious day !

With this thought I set the alarm for 4-00 am, and went to sleep.

I woke up just 5 minutes before the alarm was about to ring. I carried out the usual morning duties, and then in the dark, misty and cold early morning of 5-00 am, I and Hrishikesh, sitting on my silver Splendour, left home, and proceeded towards Ahmednagar road, a state highway. The plan was to first go to Shani Shingnapur, which is around 40 kms past Ahmednagar, on Ahmednagar-Aurangabad highway.

Even though it was the peak of the summer, on the outskirts of the city, cool and pleasant breezes were blowing, early morning, and on the fast moving motorbike the wind seemed to be even stronger.

I had thought that outside the city, on the highway there would be sparse traffic. But this assumption proved to be wrong as there was a constant stream of trucks, cars and tour buses, mainly because of the season, I thought.

We had decided to take a 5-10 minutes halt around every hour. So that I get rest from driving and the motorbike engine also cools down a little bit.

We took our first halt at 6-15 am, and having a cup of tea, again continued the exciting journey. The road was good, so I could maintain a constant speed of around 65 kmph. But some times slow moving overloaded trucks used to block the road and thus we could not go beyond 45-50 kmph at those times.

As I had estimated, at around 7-45 am we reached the city of Ahmednagar. And then after travelling a distance of around 40 kms, we finally reached Shani Shingnapur. We had to park the vehicle 2 kms away from the temple according to new government rules. From the parking place we hired an auto-rickshaw and reached the temple.

We carried out the usual rituals in the temple after having a cold bath. Today being a day of special significance at this place, large crowd had accumulated. Somebody was performing pooja, someone having holy bath, someone distributing prasad, someone performing other rituals to Shani deity and so on. The air was full of religious fever, filled up with sound of chanting of the mantras in a very peculiar manner.

After we were done, we returned to the parking place, and riding on the bike proceeded towards Shirdi, which was now 75 kms ahead. This road, not being a highway, was quite narrow, and there was no room for overtaking other vehicles. So it took us two hours, including two halts, to reach Shirdi. At around 12 noon, we reached Shirdi, and parked the bike, and hurriedly approached the temple. The noon Aarati of Sai Baba had just begun. The crowd here was mind boggling, we were at the back of a long, long queue, which was moving ahead quite slowly. Now the Sun being overhead, the atmosphere had heated up. Live telecast of the Aarati was being shown at some corners of the building on television sets. After spending exactly two hours, out turn came for taking ''darshan''. I prayed to Shree Sai Baba, performed the rituals, then put some amount in the donation box and out I came.

In this way our desire of visiting Shirdi was fulfilled. I was happy and peaceful at once. Then some time went in having some food, after which it was already 3-15 pm. We had to travel back 200 kms from here to Pune. I estimated that it will surely take 5 hours till we reach home. So without spending time in any other thing further, we headed straight towards Pune, this time by state highway.

As we continued our fantastic march, at 5-15 pm rain interrupted. It was quite heavy and downpouring. With no shelter in sight, I had to continue the ride in rain. But soon in 20 mins, we had traveled past the rain zone, and the road ahead looked absolutely dry. We were happy and I drove speedily now to compensate.

Exactly at 8-15 pm, my bike had entered the gates of my house. Again my estimate was correct. Thus ended a wonderful, adventurous and memorable trip.

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