travelogue nashik potrait 60's
 Snip bit: Last minute. Coincidental. Ladies only. Family trip. Road Trip. Pilgrimage. Three full days. Mumbai to Nashik. On budget. Comfortable. Local Food. Pleasant weather. Adventure. Thrilling adventure. Peace. 

 *Recommend for people of all ages.  

Sounds exciting doesn’t it! I’ve spent a generous amount of my life traveling abroad, living abroad and being fascinated by things beyond just India. But I somehow never realized, the abundance of beauty and rich heritage that surrounds our every city, every place in India. Truth be told, I did take it for granted just like every youngster/millennial these days (our constant obsession towards the west/becoming like the west sort off rubbed off on me or perhaps my entire generation all together). But, spending more time with my mother and her love for this country got me on board for this last-minute-impromptu-pilgrimage/trip to explore these hidden gems of our culture through this short trip from Mumbai to Nashik. 

* I’ll break up the details and mention the timeline to make things easy for you’ll as readers because I’d love to introduce these secretes of our rich culture which are no longer talked about in this social-media/virtual-world driven time.

TRIP DETAILS

  • Date of travel:1stof February to 4thof February, 2019 (early morning).
  • Location (To and Fro):Mumbai – Nashik, Maharashtra
  • Duration:3 hr 30 mins – 108 mi. / 174 kms.

Places/Destination to visit: 

  1. Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, Trimbak, Nashik District
  2. Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Shirdi, Ahmednagar District
  3. Shani Shingnapur Temple, Sonai, Ahmednagar District
  4. Panchvati, Nashik District
  5. Muktidham Nashik District (due to crunch of time, we missed this)
  • Length of stay: 3 days 3 nights
  • No. of travellers: 4 people (all women)
  • Age group of travellers: 20 – 62 years of age
  • Mode of travel: By Road 
  • Total amount spent: Roughly around Rs.26,000/- only overall (including all expenses ie. 6.5k per head)

*I’m not mentioning the total amount of distance travelled, as I completely lost track of that while driving. 

GOOGLE MAPS TIMELINE + REVIEW

1stof February, 2019

We packed our bags and left around 9:22am for Nashik. As the trip was last minute we did not have an itinerary in place and thus the trip began on an erratic note. We straight away went from Mumbai to Canada Corner, Nashik City (at our place of layover) without realising that we had already passed Trimbak on our way to Nashik. 
Hence, I would recommend you all to visit Trimbakeshwar Temple, Trimbak on your way to Nashik. 

Destination No.1 – Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, Trimbak, Nashik District

Trimbakeshwar Shiv Temple is one of the 12 Jyotirling spread across India. It is one of the oldest/ancient temples which is a part of the said pilgrimage of the 12 Jyotirling situated in the hilly region of Sahyadri Mountains in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra. It is also the origin / birthplace of River Godavari, which is the second largest river in India after River Ganga.

If you see the Shiv Pind, you’ll notice that Trimbakeshwar shivling has all the three Gods – Bhrama, Vishnu and Maheshwar. Thereby making this a unique and extremely auspicious darshan of the creators of our universe.

Experience of Trimbakeshwar:

 We actually arrived on the last day of the 3rd day of Yatra of Sant Nivrutti Nath (elder brother of Sant Gyaneshwar) which is celebrated on Ekadashiin Krushna Paksha.There was a lot of crowd and traffic due to the Yatra. But thankfully, we entered the temple through the west gate and escaped the long queue (all credit goes to my Mum!).

Our Bhatji/Panditji was kind enough to escort us to the centre of the temple and conduct Pooja seeking blessings for our family and a blessed future. We also asked our Bhatjito do Doodh (milk) Abhishek on our behalf the next morning during the 1st Aartiof the day. Following which, we got to quickly took Darshan of the Shiv Ling like everyone else and continued our journey towards the exit from the temple.

Review of Trimbakeshwar

The temple is beautiful with magnificent ancient architecture all around. There are direct roads to the Mandir, hence travelling/commuting isn’t a big problem. The temple management is there but one cannot come with high expectations. It is generally very crowded.

Travel with 1 hour or so extra in hand always. Darshanis quick. One can always look at the CCTV footage to get a clear picture. Seek God’s blessings and make your way to a blessed future. 
*We did miss out on the Prasadas we couldn’t find any. However, we did consume Charnamrit.

Note: No Dress Code. Everyone was wearing civil/non-revealing clothes.

As soon as we got done with our Darshanat Trimbakeshwar, we immediately left for Shirdi with out wasting any time. 

Destination No.2 – Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Shirdi, Ahmednagar District

Sai Baba of Shirdi

We reached Shirdi after a long travel of roads filled with jam-pack traffic and no space to move. I might have even accidentally broken a signal trying to follow Google maps into a now converted “one-way” road. Lol! Anyhow, we reached Shirdi and immediately settled in at our lay over (a government quarter with Rs.500 per night for a single room).

Experience of Pre-booking for Shirdi Sai Aarti + Darshan:

We had almost reached Shirdi by 7-7:30 pm in the evening and after much deliberation and research we realised that we had to rush to the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple to get passes for the next day early morning Aarti at 4:30 am and also for the Sarvajanic Sai Satyavrat Pooja that takes place at multiple intervals through out the day.

*Mind you, we thought early morning Aarti won’t be that difficult to get as it at the wee hours of the morning and very few people would make it to that. However, we were proven wrong.

Shirdi Sai Baba Temple is HUGE. It is MASSIVE. The tendency to get lost is quite normal. However, the management of the premises is top notch. There are guards everywhere, maps, instructions etc. at all nocks and corners to support and guide you.

  *What is vital for you as pilgrims to remember are the 5 Gate No’s as each of them serve a special purpose.Hence I’ve created this chart for you – 

Cut to – running towards donation counter at the temple through Gate No.4 in order to get the passes. The donation counter is where you get all the passes and where you make the donations of course. The donation counter and PRO counter close at 9:00 pm dot! Not a second here or there. Hence, as you can tell we were running for our lives as we had only the next morning to do the Pooja and we were in crunch of time. Our entire trip was planned around Sai Darshan, and there was no way that after coming so far we were going to go back without having one. 

We reached the donation counter, asked for four passes to the morning Aarti at 4:30 am. We were told the PRO counter provides it (which is at Gate No.1 on the other side of the temple) and we were late, so we missed it. We were also informed that in order to get Aartipasses one can also book online, 10-15 days in advance on https://online.sai.org.in/#/aartiAvailability. You also have the alternate option to stand in the free queue for the Aarti but one has to wait/stand in the queue overnight to get the morning first Aarti. And quite frankly, none of us had the stamina to do that + we had two senior citizen mothers with us and we clearly could not take that risk. Hence we skipped on the idea of getting the morning Aartias getting the Darshan was more important.

We then asked to book morning 9:30 am Sarvajanic Sai Satyavrat (Satyanarayan) Pooja for 4 people and he kindly asked us to pay Rs.100/- only per person to get the passes. Finally, one thing had got sorted for the next day. 

 * This Pooja takes place at the interval of every 2 hours regularly, each day. 

However, our senior citizen mommies (one of which was handicap due to recent knee replacement surgery) could not walk or wait for so long in the queue. Hence, we went to Gate No.3 to get the handicap pass so that at least they can have quick and peaceful Darshan

Just opposite Gate No.3 there is a counter for disabled persons to get their pass and head for Darshan. We went there, provided the documents they asked for and got a pass made for them (1 person is allowed entry with a handicap person). As soon as we got the pass, we decided the mommies to head for Darshanright then and there itself, as it didn’t look that crowded late night. 

They went ahead and got quick Darshan at 9:30pm at night and came back very happy and joyous! At least they had their Darshan, without any hassle what so ever.

Review of Pre-booking for Shirdi Sai Aarti + Darshan:

The day ended on a great note with this unplanned Darshan for our lovely mommies and lot of excitement and anticipation for our next day proper Darshan for the whole family. 

2nd of February, 2019

Early morning 6:00 am wake up call. Everyone in a rush to get ready. Super chilled weather. I caught cold in fact, but a nice warm shower cured it all. Cup of cutting-steaming hot chai for everyone. Brand new clothes. Punjabi SuitsSarees. Feeling Great. All set for Sai Baba Darshan!  P.S. NO CAMERA/CELLPHONE ARE ALLOWED. Hence, we kept everything back at our room and only carried cash. 

Destination No.1- Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Shirdi, Ahmednagar District

Sai Baba of Shirdi

Experience of Sarvajanic Sai Satyavrat (Satyanarayan) Pooja:

The morning started on a very exciting note. We first headed towards the donation counter to ask the location for our 9:30 am Sarvajanic Sai Satyavrat (Satyanarayan) Pooja. We were then directed towards the relevant location. We had reached half an hour early, bearing flowers for the Pooja. When we reached the hall, cleaning work was going on. My mother promptly asked the organisers if we could do some Seva for the Sarvajanic Sai Satyavrat (Satyanarayan) Pooja and started helping to set up for the Pooja from flowers to coconut to pan-supari, haldikunku-rice/tandul etc. It was such a wonderful feeling to just help organisePooja so important and pure for all the participants of the said time slot.

Once it was time, the Panditji/Bhatjicame and the Poojabegan. We were almost 150 of us participating in the Poojaat the same time (so you can image the impact of every prayer chanted together by all participants… ah!). Many people were doing the Poojaby themselves and many were doing it with their respective families and beloved ones. 

Review of Sarvajanic Sai Satyavrat (Satyanarayan) Pooja:

The Pooja was absolutely amazing. Every minute, every second felt so complete, nurturing and fulfilling. The vibrations were so strong and manifested in the universe with every chant and narration of each Adhyay. It just felt so different. As if we were one with Sai Baba and ourselves. I loved it. The Panditji did not take money nor did the helpers. All donations went in the daan peti/donation box.
One thing that Panditji said and stuck with me is that, without God’s will one cannot even get his Darshan. It is all predestined. The present turn of events is predestined.
*We also got some steaming hot Prasad of pure ghee halwa to be used in the Pooja. After completion of which, I tasted a bit of the halwa and I just could not stop. It tasted DIVINE. Yes! That right! That’s the word I was looking for. To associate with this Pooja – DIVINE! It felt Divine!

In order to amplify the divinity of this auspicious day, my mother along with other married women at the Pooja, celebrated “Haldi-Kunku” with one another. Which was great because rarely does one get so many married women under the same roof.

Experince of Shirdi Sai Darshan

The Pooja lasted for an hour. After which, we got a glimpse of Sai Baba on our way towards Gate No.3 to get the handicap pass. However, this time the person managing the handicap pass counter was very rude and unsympathetic. Especially, towards elderly handicap people who were without a wheel chair and refused to give them passes. I felt so bad. I wanted to give it back to him, given his unreasonable behaviour. But then time was of essence, so I quickly took my mother to the senior citizen counter outside Gate No.5 to get her pass and take Sai Darshan. My aunt decided not to take Darshan today due to acute pain. She had actually already taken Darshan last night with my mum and she was happy with her Sarvajanic Sai Satyavrat (Satyanarayan) Pooja  expereince.

*We had decided the handicap counter opposite Gate No.3 to be our meeting point. In case if anyone got lost, they would come and wait at this location till everyone came.

My sister and I on the other hand, ran towards Gate No.1 to PRO counter to get our passes for the VIP Darshan. The pass was for Rs.200/- only per person. We got the pass and quickly started brisk walking-cum-running towards the temple for the Darshan. It was quite the run. 

Initially, it wasn’t that crowded. But as we entered the temple after running through a maze in a jigsaw puzzle, we started making our way towards the centre of the temple – towards Sai Baba’s Idol. Everyone was chanting “Sai Baba Ki Jai!”with so much joy and happiness. Slowly and steadily we got closer and closer to the larger than life – brimming with the golden-glow glimpse of God. Sai Babahimself. His true idol. The golden temple and God’s Murtiwas so beautiful. Layered with garlands, prayers and love of the people. Their faith. Their love. It felt surreal. 

*I believe in God, cosmic power, faith and deeds. It’s all interconnected from where I see. In that moment it felt so overwhelming and truly blessed to get God’s blessings that the entire crowd, all the madness, endless travel etc. all those worries just faded off. I was in that moment. With my God and me. It was divine.जिव्हाला गारवा मिळाला.

We got a lot of Prasad from the Darshantoo. The queue was well monitored hence there was no stampede and the Darshanwas carried on successfully. Small packets of Anagarawere also provided. It was amazing. It truly was. Somehow, despite our odd timings, Mom, Tai and me landed up getting Darshanat the same time. Cosmic power working at its best. It was great. The Darshan was great. 

We then took Darshanof Sai Baba’s Samadhi and Dwarka Mai Temple. It was a wholesome experience. Everything was happening on its own. We were just going with the flow. Only love and gratefulness to God.

After we got done with Darshan, we went to our meeting point and quickly stood in line to get Prasad Ladoosoutside Gate No.3 for Rs.25 per packet and 1 person could only order 4 packets at a time. We ladies did our thing and collect all our packets of Prasad Ladoos for friends and family. 

 P.S. Each packet itself contains 3 motichur ladoos. So 3 x 4 = 12 4 packets of prasad which is more than enough for any person. 

Before ending our Shirdi Sai Baba Darshan/trip we also bought couple of Sai calendars from their in-house stores in the temple at fairly reasonable prices. They also sell sarees/garments given to God for people to buy.

Review of Shirdi Sai Darshan:

All in all, we may have missed the Aartibut the Sarvajanic Sai Satyavrat (Satyanarayan) Pooja and Sai Baba’s Darshanwas all that we needed to be happy. Just that. And we did. It was DIVINE.

Note: No Dress Code. Everyone was wearing civil/non-revealing clothes.

Destination No.2- Shani Shingnapur Temple, Sonai, Ahmednagar District

Shani Shingnapur

Once we got done with Sai Darshan, we immediately left for Shani Shingnapur. We didn’t have much time to have breakfast or lunch. It was hectic because our to-do list for the day included Sai Darshan, Shani Shingnapur Darshan and heading back to Nashik City for our lay over. So yes, it was hectic and included a lot of travel. But because of our fantastic Darshan earlier in the day at Shirdi, our spirits were mighty high.

We left for our next destination while munching on fresh grapes bought from the road side, sipping on fresh organic sugarcane juice churned in front of your eyes. Alos enjoyed a lot of peru(guava) and bor (Ziziphus mauritiana/Indian plum/Chinese date) on our way to the next temple. 

Experience + Review of Shani Shingnapur:

Shani Shingnapur Temple is barely at 70 kms distance from Shirdi from what I reckon. This temple is dedicated to the Poojaof Lord Shanidev/Shaneshwar. Everyone knows him as the God of “sade-sati” and wants to please him to put an end to all agony in their lives. The idol of Lord Shanidev is a black rock. People offer mustard oil, black seseame seeds, coconut, garlands etc. 

Women were not allowed in this temple, until recently. Only men were allowed to take Darshan. However, now one can go on any given day with their family to offer prayers and experience the rich culture we have as a country. 

I was told that houses in this village of the temple did not have doors. They still don’t because no robbery takes places from the fear of Lord Shanidev

The temple is massive, well managed and there is no need to pay anything for Darshan. Our Darshan was done barely in an hour or so. It was quick and efficient. There are two entrances for Darshan and one does not necessarily have to wait in the long queue, as one is not allowed to touch the deity in any circumstance. 
Note: You can buy the Prasad for Rs.15 from within the temple at multiple counters.

Note: No Dress Code. Everyone was wearing civil/non-revealing clothes.

Once we got done with the Pooja, we left for Nashik City for our lay over and called it a night as we had exciting things planned for the next day. 

3rdof February, 2019

We got in some good sleep last night. All of us were exhausted after such long exhausting travels. Sure the journey in general has been extremely comfortable mindful of everyone’s need. However, just sitting in the car/travelling also exhausts you. Any way, we were up and running in the morning. We went and got some milk, chai powder, cream rolls and kharito have a nice breakfast on a chilly morning. 
Shirdi was very cold at night but Nashik City, surprisingly wasn’t that cold. I’d say it was chilled.

After having breakfast and completing our morning chores we headed towards Panchavati to explore the alleged place of residence of Shri Ram, Lakshman and Devi Sita filled with temples and holy vibrations. 

Destination No.1 – Panchvati, Nashik District

Panchvati, Nashik District

Experience of Panchavati, Nashik District:

Experience of Panchavati: It is hardly 15 mins from Nashik City. We took an auto-rickshaw on sharing basis of Rs.10 per person to Panchavati. The ride was comfortable and quick. Panchavati in itself is huge. It is like a city within a city. There are several temples and with River Godavari running through it, you get to see a lot of prosperity in terms of food produce in local markets, local vendors etc. When Kumbh Melais held in Nashik, one can hardly walk peaceful in Panchavati. But that being said, we went to –

  1. Kalaram Mandir– An ancient temple built by the Peshwa’s almost 200 years ago.
  2. Sita Gumpha (Cave)– This is where it is believed that Ravan kidnapped Sita during Shri Ram’s vanvas. There are 5 trees surrounding this cave that were planted by the God’s to protect Devi Sita and they still stand tall as on today.
  3. Tapovan – Tapovan was meant for meditation in ancient times. Bit is is were Shurpanakha – sister of Ravan got her nose cut by Lord Laxman in agitation of her continuous persistence to marry Lord Laxman. The place where her cut-nose fell became to be known as “Nashik”. There is also a confluence of River Kapila and River Godavari at Tapovan, along side four kund of Bhramatirth, Shivtirth, Vishnutirth and Agnitirth (It was the place where Lord Ram had hidden real Devi Sita and kept her shadow with him who was later abducted by Ravan from Sita Gumpha ).

There were many more places – to be exact 11 more places to explore in Panchavati. Rickshaw trade unions have arranged viewing of all these places and we took a tour of those places for Rs.300 for 5 people in total. I sadly do not remember the names of the temples as there were many. But I do remember a temple of “Shri Katya Marurthi Lambe Hanuman Mandir” which was of Lord Hanuman and there is a temple of Devi Sita, apparently the “only” temple of Devi Sitain the whole of India situated right opposite Shri Katya Marurthi Lambe Hanuman Mandir. 

Review of Panchavati, Nashik District:

This journey-exploration-pilgrimage felt great. I was just soaking in the blessings and just enjoying all of it. When would I get a chance to do the same on a regular day in Mumbai? Of course not. I enjoyed Pachavati. We walked a lot, bought quite a few hand-made iron utensils for home, munched on puffed wheat grains, which almost tasted like popcorn. Fun! Great times for sure. 
None of these temples required any payment for Darshan or Prasad. It was easy and not that crowded except for Sita Gumpha (Cave). 

[su-note]Note: No Dress Code. Everyone was wearing civil/non-revealing clothes.[/su-note]

We ended our Nashik pilgrimage here around 4pm in the evening and headed towards our accommodation for Rs.70 only in an auto-rickshaw. 

After the pilgrimage we were due to attend Sula Fest 2019 and that’s where we were headed next around 5:30pm. We had a great time and just crashed late night after a long exhausting day.

4thOf February, 2019

We left early morning around 6:30 pm from Nashik City and reached Mumbai at dot 10:17 am in the morning. 

Over all road-trip experience: It was great. Hectic but fun!

#ProTip Carry sun protection – hat, scarf and SPF/sunscreen. Lots of water. Travel light.