We decided to start the trip at 9:00 AM or 10:00 AM on Saturday, however, we had the great 'time-killer' and 'trip-spoiler' this time with us, MM, 'the supari-man' (yeah, he was a replica of super-man, just some supari in his mouth every time). So there was no chance we could have start on time. I don't know exactly by what time we started as I didn't had time to note it down as we were hell late. Initially the plan was to reach Shani Shingnapur by 3:00 PM, reach Shirdi by 6:00 or 7:00 PM but due to our 'Supari-man's' expected delay, we were not even thinking to make this happen.
So we start driving towards Pune as if you have to go Shani Shingnapur first, that route is best. If you have to go as Trimbakeshwar -- Shirdi -- Shani Shingnapur, then you need to move towards Nasik first. Weather was cool and we had our 10 years old wonder-car with only one driver as me in that. 'Supari-man' (MM) and another desi version of 'Super Comando Dhruva' Mr. SPS already showed their intention not to try their driving skills with that wonder-car because the technologies as well as the supersonic systems of that car were not as per their standards. According to them, they are high maintenance guys (with empty pockets).
So we were on the express highway of Mumbai-Pune to cover the time we wasted (which was impossible). There is nothing as scenic as Mumbai-Pune highway during rain but on express highway, halt is not allowed. You can only stop on the patch of 8 kms (Lonavala) which is common for highway and express highway and we had foto sessions there. Driving was going smooth and we took a left turn for Ahmadnagar which straight goes to Shani Sighnapur. We reached there by the evening only, curtesy our 'supari-man'. Before I go ahead and start journey to Shirdi, there is something I want to explain about Shani Sighnapur pilgrim. Information is widely available on internet but there is no harm to repeat it and involved in this blog.
There are many Lord Shani temples in India, out of which, two famous places of Lord Shani are, Shani Shinganapur in Maharashtra, and one is Shani temple in Kosi Kalan (Mathura). Shani-Shinganapur lies 6 kilometers off Ghodegaon- an important market place along Ahmednagar-Aurangabad road. Ghodegaon is 35 kilometers from Ahmednagar. Distance from Mumbai is 330 Kms approx, via the route Mumbai-Pune-Ahmednagar-Shani Shignapur. This village is famous as a pilgrimage as well as for its door less mystery. The houses here have gaping, rectangular spaces at the facade of every home. No door frames, no latches, no padlocks or any other safety measures to guard the house. The door less architecture makes its presence felt right from the famous temple Sri Shaneshwar Graha Devatha. Male devotees clad in saffron cloth take a head bath before entering into the temple. Devotees also perform Abhishekas (rites involving
pouring of certain liquids over the idol) with water and til (mustard) oil. Thousands of people gather on Shani Amvasaya to perform puja.
One of the unique aspects of the village Shinganapur is that houses here have no door- frames or locks on them for safety. They are in fact not needed. The people here believe that it is the benediction of the god that no crime ever occurs in this village. Another belief attached to this place is the story of Neem tree standing to the North of the Shani idol. It is believed that the tree sheds its branches if one happens to cast a shadow over the idol.
Back to journey... we had our prayers at Shani-Shiganapur and moved towards Shirdi at around 9:00 PM. Our plan was to stay in Shirdi and to attend the early morning aarti, however, we forgot that planning is not what we should do to make things happen on time. We reached Shirdi by 11:00 PM and if there is some space to believe, we didn't got any room in any hotel by 3:00 AM, night. Every hotel was full as there was Saturday, Sunday and almost all the devotees came to Shirdi to offer prayers. Finally at 3:30 AM, one hotel staff shown some mercy on us and we got a room there. Our plan to attend the early morning aarti got failed as Mr. Supari man declared that he can't make it as he is hell tired and that statement was strongly backed by SPS. I was finding out the reason what made those guys so much exhausted because I was the one who was driving all the way. But there was no logic to convince them at that moment they got a bag full of reasons why not to go to temple at that time. So we drag into beds and wake up in the morning at around 9:00 AM. By noon 3:00 PM, we had everything done including lunch and we started for Trumkeshwar, Nasik. Again, before we reach Nasik, I would like to share few things about Shirdi.
Shirdi -- A pilgrimage for all. Its approx 80 km from Shani Shingnapur. It’s a place above all religions, castes and creed. Shirdi is the mystical town fragrant with the devotional intensity that sees devotees from across the world thronging to this small hamlet. Highly placed on the world map of spirituality, Shirdi is located in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra and close to the holy city of Nasik. Shri Sai Baba is revered as one of the greatest saints ever seen in India, endowed with unprecedented powers, and is worshipped as a God incarnate. Shri Saibaba of Shirdi lived between 1838 and 1918, whose real name, birthplace and date of birth are not known. An Indian spiritual guru and a fakir that transcended the barriers of religions, Saibaba of Shirdi was regarded with great reverence by all religion followers.
Back to journey...it was around 7:00 PM when we reached Trimbakeshwar, which was approx 110 km from Shirdi, around 22 km from main Nasik. Quite late because it was Sunday and we had to reach Mumbai to attend office next day. But the way from Nasik to Trimbakeshwar, the stretch of 22 km was so much beautiful so that we had lost the thought of next day. It was raining and road was superb with great maintenance. Although, we were unable to get a speed due to slippery way, but due to the reason we had a warm welcome by the environment, we didn't thought of speed. We offered our prayers at Trimbakeshwar and by 9:00 PM, we were ready for our way back. Something about this holy place…
Trimbakeshwar -- It is a religious centre having one of the twelve JYOTIRLINGA of the world, approx 180 km from Mumbai and 22 km from Nasik city. Trimbakeshwar Temple was built by Shrimant Balaji Bajirao aka Nanasahib Peshawe in 1788. This Nagara style temple is built with local black stone and the sanctum features a beautiful tower. Out of the four doorways, three have porches which are adorned with arches and pillars. The deity installed here has five heads which faces towards different mountains surrounding Trimbakeshwar. The temple houses three ‘linga' of the size of a thumb and they are called as Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva). The Shivling in the main shrine of the temple is covered with a single-faced silver mask which attracts thousands of devotees from all over India. There is a continuous issue of water from the top of the Shivling. There are numerous teerths including the Gangadwara teerth, Varaha teerth and Kushavarta teerth in the vicinity of the temple. The temple is known for its appealing architecture and sculpture and is at the foothills of a mountain called Brahmagiri.
So it was time to get a start for back to Mumbai. As said, it was already past 9:00 PM somewhere and we were planning (again!!!) to reach Mumbai by 12:00 midnight to get a decent sleep of 7-8 hours, so we were cool. We crossed Nasik city by 10:30 PM (had dinner too in between) and as I said, we PLANNED to reach Mumbai (a distance of around 160 km) by 12:00 midnight, we were happy about our intelligent thought until the rain started like anything. It was so heavy rain that was making impossible to have a clear vision of even 10 meters, and that made us to stop the car for more than an hour in a dhaba. The clock was showing more than 12:00 when we again started our journey when the rain was not properly stopped, just drizzling, and I was able to drive at the speed of 40-50. Just after a drive of 30 minutes, we again had that show-stopper rain which was even heavier than last slot. All the three bravehearts took the decision not to stop this time and to continue the journey at the speed of even 20-30. It was dark everywhere and Nasik highway was under construction so we even didn't knew how much was the distance between the valley and the car tyres. It was impossible to have any idea about the road and still the roadies were jogging on that in a car. Twice it happened that a truck tried to smash our lil beast with inside us and that was for sure unintentional. We came to know that we were about to come under truck when its headlight were visible at a distance of a meter or so. But as we were not at a high speed, rescue was done on time. One more incident I remember was, due to the construction work, some big stones (from which divider boundary has been made) were there with the divider and were invisible. Our car's driver side's front tyre hop on it and it cost my full strength to control the car. In brief, the scene was completely looked like a crop from any horror movie, night was dark, the road was under construction and was dangerous without lights, heavy rains which made visibility the worst, a car with only one driver (I have right to appreciate me now!!!) who was driving from last 2 days with a small sleep of 3-4 hours, two other members out of which supari-man had no concern at all about what was happening as he devoted all his life to God (he turned saint and he was sleeping on the rear seat like anything...). For some more time I drive like that till the time it got unacceptable. It was almost 2:30 AM and we thought of another break. We again parked our car at some dhaba, I decided to stay in the car itself and to get some sleep, rest two of their own mankind decided to get into the dhaba to get some food (they were hungry as they though they were tired because of all that what was happening... OR may be like they were busy clearing the road to make me drive...). Another hour past when MM & SPS wake me and asked me if I need something to eat or should we push of as the rain was stopped. A thought of being a ‘driver’ crossed my mind at that moment... ;). So we again started after I toasted hell amount of water to wake me up while driving. It was a kind of night safari which we were doing since last 6 hours with worst road condition in the tan dark night, with heavy rain falls etc. and with antiqpieces like 'supari-man-- the MM' and SPS. It all looks like a fun now when we think about that night ride; however we were bit disturbed about what the aura was at that time. We would had not find any mechanics etc. if something would have gone wrong with our car and spending night in a still car with heavy rain falls is not something very enjoyable especially when you have to attend the office next day. But I must admit that my first car had not made us suffer from any of the crisis, not only on this trip, but by the time she was with me. That’s how I named it wonder-car...
We finally reached Mumbai and at our home by 5:00 AM in the morning. Nobody would be believing the fact that to cover approx 200 kms, it took 7 hours especially with a driver who got a sleep of just 4 hours in two days, and with the 10 years old spicy Zen. But that was again a very sacred turned adventurous trip of our life with 'three idiots' in one wonder car. (Sorry to use Aamir's movie name before it get release, but now I guess from where the producer got this movie name...). These are the only things which you cherish throughout your life, no matter how much uncomfortable and unacceptable situation you were in. But once you crossed those kind of difficult situations, the same moments turns into sweet memories...
Some more info on the route, places etc...
If you have any plan to go Shirdi, you can add Trimbakeshwar & Shani Shinganapur in that because it is very much possible and achievable to club those two pilgrims and to cover all three in one day. Though, it will be bit hectic if you are with family, children etc, but the pleasure of being at those two places is much larger than a bit of pain which may cause due to travelling etc.
There can be two ways you can schedule your trip.
Mumbai - Trimbakeshwar (Nasik) - Shirdi - Shani Shingnapur - Mumbai (via Pune)
Mumbai - Shani Shingnapur (via Pune, Ahmednagar) - Shirdi - Trimbakeshwar (Nasik) - Mumbai
Mumbai - Nasik: approx 190 km
Nasik - Shirdi: approx 90 km
Shirdi - Shani Shinganapur: approx 80 km
Total: approx 360 km
Mumbai - Shani Shingnapur: approx 330 Km (Mumbai-Pune-Ahmednagar)
Shani Shinganapur – Shirdi: approx 80 km
Shirdi - Nasik: approx 90 km
Best is to start on Saturday early morning around 4:00 AM towards Shani Shingnapur, reach there by 10:00 AM, reach Shirdi by 1:00 PM and have a lunch break there only, then push off to Trimbakeshwar by 4:00 PM (if you will be lucky enough to have 'darshan' with in an hour or so), reach trimbakeshwar by 6:00 PM, attend the evening 'Aarti' and push of to Mumbai by 8:00 PM. To have a smooth trip, you may have a night stay at Shirdi, attend early morning 'Aarti' next day, and then push off to Trimbakeshwar.
Whatever suits, it’s always been a pleasure and peace to be at those places. Some snaps below...
Some valley on the way....
Nasik - Trimbkeshwar road... something to talk about!!!
Happy journey... :)