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Old 27th November 2013, 15:36   #1
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Default Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba

Background :
The state elections were scheduled in Chhattisgarh for 19th November, 2013. The schools were closed for three days because of the election and my office was closed on the election day (under the NI Act), moreover this time we would not be able to cast our vote anyway. This was a perfect opportunity to make a short trip to Shirdi, which we were planning to visit for the last few years but could not make it. Nobody (read Wife) opposed the idea and the plan was finalized to start on 17-11-2013 and return by 20-11-2013, so that my son would resume his school from 21st. Checked Tripadvisor for the hotel and booked a room in the “Marigold Regency”. The route was checked from the forum, the following threads were specially helpful, though a bit old :


Nagpur-shirdi-nagpur-23-hours (Nagpur, Shirdi & Nagpur: 23 hours)

The latest road condition was obtained from fellow member Ahmed Siddiqui (Forum name – Ahmed) from Aurangabad who was kind enough to respond quickly with the latest updates. Thanks Ahmed for all the help.

The Journey (17-11-2013) :

Started the journey at 03:15AM from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh and proceeded through the Durg - Bypass on NH6 crossing Rajnandgaon (40KM) till Bhandara (193KM). The border checkpost at Baghnadi sometimes causes trouble but today it was clear, however there was a security checking at the state border. I presume it was because of the state elections. The road till Bhandara is good 4 laned (except for three streaches, where the road is 2 laned), but the portion from Bhandara to Outer Ring Road, Nagpur (240 KM) is in terrible condition due to the 4-laning job going on in that part.

The outer ring road surrounding Nagpur, till the point it joins NH6 again at Gondakhairi is 43KM in length. The ORR till Jamtha is beautiful 4 lane but the rest is again 2 laned. It was while crossing this beautiful streach we wanted to take some photos and in the process found out that wife's vanity case has not been loaded in the car. I stopped and searched the boot and the backseat to confirm the same and everyone's face was like a big "O" . I tried to assess the situation as we had covered a considerable distance in the four hours. Returning back meant that the whole plan would go for an absolute toss as we would easily loose eight hours minimum and there was no question of reaching Shirdi on the same day. Apart from the cosmetic items and medicines it contained our ID cards and Credit / Debit cards and the Camera. Luckily I had withdrawn money from the ATM last night and the debit card was still in my purse, so one problem gone. We had booked the darshan tickets in wife's name and her PAN card was given as her ID; her DL was with us and we decided to take a chance here. But the most important thing that we missed was my DL, it had been put in the card holder/ pouch the previous night. I realised that I had committed a terrible mistake by not putting the DL along with the other papers of the car and cannot blame anyone except myself for this lapse . After some thought I decided to carry on and in case some checking happens on the route then wife has to drive but any photos for the journey was ruled out without the camera.

We crossed Nagpur around 07:00AM and Amravati (423KM) around 10:00AM. The road from Nagpur to Amravati via Talegaon was smooth as usual and we stopped for breakfast at a dhaba on the bypass. The road condition after the Amravati bypass was broken at several places. We then crossed Badnera, Loni and after Nagzari just as the NH6 took a right turn towards Akola, we continued straight for Karanja (470 KM) on SH212. Before entering the town of Karanja, we joined SH207 and went straight to Mekhar (579 KM). I missed the Mehkar bypass and crossed through the town towards Jalna. We crossed through Bibi and SindKhed Raja along SH177 and reached Jalna outskirts (667 KM) where the road was in very bad condition. However, the Jalna Aurangabad road (after Jalna) was in decent condition and we crossed Aurangabad(730 KM) at around 03:45PM. We tried to locate the Vithal Kamat's restaurant on the Jalna-Aurangabad road but failed to find it, however after crossing the cantonment area we stopped at a road side dhaba / garden restaurant for our lunch. We had our home made lunch there with tea from the dhaba at 04:00PM. Overall the SH after Amravati to Aurangabad was pretty decent except for some patches inside the towns, where the roads are broken and the Jalna bypass where the roads are in horrible condition.

The 70KM road from Aurangabad to Vaijapur was in very bad condition, the top layer of the road was completely eroded. Ahmed had already warned that the road from Aurangabad to Shirdi was in terrible condition and suggested to take a detour from Vaijapur to Yeola and then Shirdi, so I presumed that this portion of the road would be OK. It took us something more than two and a half hours to cross this 70 Km streach. The road from Vaijapur to Yeola (25KM) and Yeola to Khopargaon (19KM) was good but from Khopargaon to Shirdi (14KM) was again in very bad condition. We finally reached hotel Marigold Regency at Shirdi (858 KM) around 08:00PM.

Just as we left the NH6 after the Amravati bypass and entered the SH, the MMI started behaving very strangely. Initially Shirdi was given as the destination and it was struck with the idea of going through Akola. Then I changed the destination to Aurangabad, the MMI was verbally instructing to go just in the opposite direction. After some time the devise had to be turned off and the result was that we had to stop and ask for direction on several occasion. Road signage was visible in the initial portion upto Karanja and again near Jalna and upto Aurangabad, but in the middle portion there was no roadsigns.

Total Distance Covered : 858 KM.
Total Time Taken : 17 Hours.

The Outer Ring Road, Nagpur.
Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-img_20131117_070829.jpg

Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-img_20131117_070835.jpg

Last edited by Sommos : 30th November 2013 at 11:54.
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Old 28th November 2013, 16:43   #2
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Default re: Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba

The Hotel :

The Marigold Regency hotel at Shirdi is not a very big one but is elegantly designed and has a secured and free parking for the visitors. The hotel is within walking distance from the temple and also provides a free drop and pickup from the temple for its guests. This service is not restricted to the temple only and they will provide you a free drop or pickup to /from anywhere within the city. The staff / employees are polite, friendly and serves with a smile. The restaurant provides good food at reasonable rates, but the breakfast options are limited for a hotel of this standard. My only grouse with the hotel is that they charge extra for children above five years and the extra bed provided is nothing but a mattress on the floor. We got a rebate of around 30 percent on the tariff which made it extremely value for money.

The Darshan (18-11-2013)

I'm not so religious minded and would specially like to avoid such maddening crowd that is generally found at prominent religious places. But my wife wanted to visit this place since last six /seven years. Every time we planned to visit Shirdi there was some or the other hindrances and the plan never materialised. Even my sister had on numerous ocassions during her visit to my place expressed her desire to visit Shirdi. We had heard from our neighbours and friends about the queue at the temple.

With all those information we arrived at the temple gate at 09:00 AM. As advised by the hotel we did not carry any mobile or camera. After checking the online booking forms and the IDs we were allowed to enter through the "Shani" gate into the main building. By bypassing the normal queue we were allowed to go without any obstruction till halfway through the stairs, where the line merges with the normal queue. We had a very satisfying darshan of the samadhi and when we came out of the main temple, though the back, it was 09:30 AM. We roamed in the temple complex and visited all the other holy places like Sri Gurusthan Mandir, Lendi Baug, Nandadeep, Dwarkamai, Museum Hall and Other Samadhis.

In the evening also we reached the temple at 04:45PM for the "Dhoop Aarti". We were made to sit in the waiting hall for some time and were allowed to enter the main temple in a queue through the same route. This time the gents and the ladies were allowed in separate queue. My son could secure a place at the front (nearest to the idol) and I got a place at the side barricade, however my wife was a little behind but got a place at the side from where she could view the idol clearly. From our vantage positions we enjoyed the aarti, which continues for half an hour, after which the barricades were removed to allow darshan of the idol.

Overall we had a very satisfying day at the Sai Baba temple, enjoyed the darshan and the serenity of the temple premises. The main purpose to coming at such a time to avoid the maddening crowd, finally paid off. We went to the CCD outlet nearby for some snacks and tea and the hotel car picked us from there.

Last edited by Sommos : 29th November 2013 at 12:02.
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Old 29th November 2013, 14:18   #3
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The return from Shirdi (19-11-2013)

On the morning we got up leisurely and packed our bags, ready to leave Shirdi. We had our complimentary breakfast at the hotel, paid the bill and was out on the road by 09:45AM. The first destination for the day was Shani Shingnapur which is 73 KM from Shirdi. The roads after Shirdi were in bad condition and it took one-and-a-half hours to cover this distance. We visited the temple and there was not much crowd and then left for Aurangabad at a distance of 81 KM on SH 60 that connects Ahmednagar and Aurangabad. The road was good and does not pass through any town and was therefore not crowded with the autos and two wheelers till one reaches the outskirts of Aurangabad. We could cover this distance within one hour and went straight to the Daulatabad fort.

The Ellora Caves remain closed on Tuesday and so planned to visit the forts and other monuments around Aurangabad and spend the night there. On one side my son was elated to visit the historic monument about which he has read in his books, my wife was unwilling to climb the steep stone stairs to see a "khandahar". While my wife waited near the main entrance, I and my son went up the pathway to the extent possible in the scorching heat. After all this exertion we decided to have our lunch and check-in in a hotel and have some rest. We had the lunch at the roadside "Fauji Dhaba" on the way to Aurangabad. We searched several decent hotels in the city (like VITS, Athiti, Ambassador Ajanta and Lemon Tree) but no rooms were available in any of the hotels. Finally after being turned down at Lemon Tree, I decided (like a motorhead) enough is enough, I'll drive down to Amravati. It was 04:15 PM and if we do not waste any more time we can reach Amravati safely by 10:30PM (max.).

First worry was whether the road was safe to travel after darkness with the family and second was the peculiar behavior of the MMI. Called up a colleague and got a confirmation that the road was safe for travel with family and the decision being made, we set-off for Amravati. The destination was set in the MMI stepwise (First Mehkar, then Karanja, then Amravati) and it functioned as desired. We crossed Jalna, Sindkhed Raja, Bibi by SH177 and by the time we reached Mehkar darkness had already set in. From Mehkar we took SH 207 and passed through Malegaon, Nagartas, Shevti to Karanja at 09:00PM. We took a tea break at Karanja and continued through Kamargaon then NH6 at NagZari, Amravati bypass and stopped at Hotel Gauri Inn, Rahatgaon, Amravati on NH6 exactly at 10:30PM.

The restaurant in the hotel is open upto midnight, so had a good dinner after freshening up and retired for the day. The room rent was 2K for the night including taxes and extra charges for the child (though we did not take any extra bed) and secured parking.

Total Distance travelled : 429 KM (from Shirdi).

To Home (20-11-2013)

Actually the decision to come to Amravati seemed beneficial in many ways; firstly there was no hurry to start early the next day, secondly none was too tired from the journey on the final day and my son could attend his school on the next day (which eventually was an exam day) without any tantrums and I too attended my office as normal.

Half of the return journey being over, we started casually at 10:00AM from Amravati. There is nothing to mention here as it is smooth 4 laned NH all the way except for the Nagpur-Bhandara portion. The rear tyre of a truck burst on the road within Bhandara town just as we were crossing each other in the opposite direction. The car received a lot of minor scratches on the doors as a lot of debris from the road flew in all directions due to the tyre burst, but nothing I could do about. Reached Bhilai at 03:45 PM, had our lunch at a roadside dhaba and my Linea safely brought us home at 04:30PM.

Total Distance travelled : 442 KM.

Overall Distance Covered in the trip : 1729 KM.

Thanks Giving

Before I end this travelogue, a big Thanks for my Linea for enduring all the pains and bringing us safely back to home. The Linea performed brilliantly on all types of surface starting from the super smooth 4 laned NHs to the non-existent roads between Bhandara & Nagpur to the decent to very bad roads of Maharashtra SHs. It also covered the distance from Auranagabad to Amravati through some remote areas with no facilities what-so-ever in complete darkness. Every time I take the Linea out on such drives on the highway, it gives me immense pleasure and my friends have now openly started calling me "truck driver".

The toll details on the way :

Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-shirdi-toll-details.jpg

Pictures of the Daulatabad Fort :

The canons of the fort being displayed. Notice the bore of this canon.
Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-img_20131119_134507.jpg

A Watchtower.
Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-img_20131119_134621.jpg

The watchtower at a strategic location.
Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-img_20131119_134630.jpg

The Chand Minar or Pillar of Victory, built in 1435.
Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-img_20131119_135240.jpg

The second gate after the main entrance.
Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-img_20131119_134807.jpg

The third gate and the pretecting wall.
Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-img_20131119_135846.jpg

The top of the fortress.
Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba-img_20131119_135305.jpg

Last edited by Sommos : 30th November 2013 at 13:28.
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Old 2nd December 2013, 14:52   #4
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Default re: Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th February 2014, 20:39   #5
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Default Re: Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba


Really I don't how I missed this thread (in fact we all missed it). All I can say is it is one of the most amazing ones to read. We all read about road trips across the country. But what made this fun for me is the fact that we rarely know much about travels through central India.

Most of the central India drives may be through Pune-Indore-Ujjain section. Very rarely we come across Nagpur and roads around. Even if it happens its more about the wild life reserves.

As regards to the place and the drive, few notes from my side:

- Nagpur is a place which I always look up with pleasure. It was a revelation to me when I saw that even most unknown roads were very wide.
- Hope NH6 4-laning gets completed fast.I have no idea. Hence would be glad to know.
- Very close to Mekhar you have the Lonar lake. Its a crater lake worth visiting.
Link : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonar_crater_lake
(I know Shirdi visits don't stop. There is always a next time. )
- As Regards to Aurangabad-Vaijapur-Shirdi, I don't think you need to go all the way till Yeola. I think Vaijapur-Khopargaon is good enough. Even though its not all that great.
- Daultabad fort is awesome esp when seen through the clouds.
- Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad is also worth visiting
- About GPS, I think its time you get a Garmin!

A thing about the hotel....

Well even I was there at the same hotel 3-4 months before you went! Amazing place. Even though small, but very complete in all aspects.

We went around Aurangabad but for this I chose not take our own car. But we hired an Innova. It turned out to be a good decision. As you also observed the roads were pathetic. But thanks to that cab, I was free to shoot. I had posted few snaps on @vibbs's TL. Crossing posting here.

Daultabad Fort

Bibi ka Maqbara. Really reminded me of Taj.

We were returning back to Shirdi via that pot holed stretch (Vaijapur/Khopergaon). It was evening and the colours were brilliant.

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Old 3rd March 2014, 14:31   #6
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Default Re: Impromptu visit to Shirdi - The abode of Shree Saibaba

Originally Posted by ampere View Post

Really I don't how I missed this thread (in fact we all missed it). All I can say is it is one of the most amazing ones to read. We all read about road trips across the country. But what made this fun for me is the fact that we rarely know much about travels through central India.
Thanks a lot Ampere for your kind words and appreciation and also for sharing the beautiful pictures.

I knew about the Lonar lake and Bibi-ka-maqbara and had the intention of staying at Aurangabad and cover at-least some of these, but as I've said earlier, I could not get a hotel at Aurangabad for the night and decided at 4:00PM to head straight to Amravati.

About the road to Shirdi, the portion from Aurangabad to Vaijapur and Khopargoan to Shirdi was in bad condition. Actually I find it very convenient on this forum to find some members from the particular area and have first hand information about the road condition before any journey. In this case, fellow member Ahmmed (who is from Aurangabad) had warned me that the portion from Vaijapur to Khopargaon was even worse and would take more than 2 hours, so had to plan the journey via Yeola. Actually the portion from Vaijapur-Yeola-Khopargaon was really good and roads all around Shirdi were in pathetic condition.
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