This is a guest post from my father. Father and Mother had done a 4 day 3 night trip to Shirdi and Pandharpur from Bangalore.
- Left by Karnataka Express to Kopergaon (Shirdi access) at 7-20 pm. Comfortable journey with good catering service.
- Reached Kopergaon (KPG) at 2.00PM 45 minutes late.
- Kopergaon to Shirdi about 15 to 16 Kms. Separate auto Rs 300.
- Checked into to Prebooked A/C room at Sai Ashram Bhakta Nivas, a 2000 room accommodation complex by Sai Samasthan. A wonderfully created infrastructure with a sorry state of maintenance. The Sai Samasthan need to take a very serious view if they have to maintain the complex in good shape. Highly recommended to stay in one of the good hotels in the nearby vicinity until the maintanence problem is fixed.
- Sai Dharshan through tickets booked on line. Good Dharshan and pleasant experience.
- Visit to other places like Dwarakamai, Chavadi and other places within the Temple.
- Mukh Dharshan (A Dharshan of Sai Baba) from a hall from a little distance. Good view of the entire Sai Baba from here.
- Snack at Sukh Sagar a restaurant near gate — Good Bombay Chat.
- Night Arathi (10.15 PM) through admission pre-booked on line. Systematic admittance till going into the Deity main hall. After entry it was like in a Mumbai Suburban train during peak hours. Once the Arathi starts people get adjusted to that.
- Morning after breakfast (7.30 AM) come out of the Bhakti Nivas. Lot of operators waiting to take you to Sani Shignapur (Sani temple). They charge Rs 120 per person for two way journey.
- We chose a Force Motors Long Chasis Carrier (they pack 14 people).We got a middle seat (4seats).We have to wait for almost 45 minutes before starting.
- Good decision to take the Force Vehicle taking the very bad condition of the National Highway which we have to take. It would have been a night mare with a Maruthi Omni or a Tata Ace.
- We reach Sani Shignapur (65 Kms from Shirdi) after 75 minutes’ drive. Since we reached early no crowd and we have a good Dharshan of the open deity. The deity a black stone in the open surrounding. Very nice Dharshan.
- On our way back we could see lot of vehicles zipping past indicating the buildup of crowd going to Shani Signapur.
- After reaching Shirdi back at about 1.00 PM Lunch at Woodlands (duplicate) opposite to Sai Temple. (Slightly highly priced but good.) Rasam Vada, Sev Puri, Bakala Bath and Mysore Coffee.
- Again Dharshan at Mukh Dharshan Hall.
- Leave for Kopergaon little early by about 7.15 PM as we have to reach Kopergaon well in time to go to Solapur by Maharashtra Express slip coach to Solapur. The train reaches Kopergaon at 9.50 PM. The train arrives on time. Till the last moment the Railways do not announce the platform, which puts the passengers to lot of anxiety and makes you run helter and shelter
- Though the stopping time was one minute, the train halted for 90 minutes to allow crossings for 4 trains.
- Maharashtra express reached Daund at 3.00AM, 45 minutes late.
- The slip compartment to Solapur was expected to be attached to Chennai Mail at 5.15 AM which arrived at 7.30 AM and so the train reached Solapur at 11.15 AM 2hours late.
- This leg of the journey was the worst. The condition of the sleeper coach with the nightmarish toilets emanating stench which could make one swoon. Further parking the compartment in a dead end platform for 4.30 hours made it into an open toilet for all the people living their life in the platform.
- At last reached Solapur and checked into Surya International (not the executive hotel but the older one) which looked a heaven after the nightmarish journey.
- Decent hotel which charged Rs 1400 plus taxes for a deluxe non A/c accommodation.
- Hired a car (Suzuki Desire A/C) through the hotel for visit to Pandharpur (Rs 2000). Good car with a descent driver.
- Solapur – Pandharpur is 68 Kms one way and takes 75 minutes’ drive.
- Though we have obtained Pre-booked pass through internet, luckily we don’t have to use it since there was no crowd. We had a good Dharshan.
- Pleasant experience is there is no touts to pester you.
- The whole trip to and fro Pandharpur took 3.15 hours.
- Reached the station Solapur well in advance and since our departure time by the Solapur- Yeshwantpur super-fast express at 7.20 PM is linked with Mumbai Mail from Chennai, quite a good spread of food like Idly,Vada etc. were available (otherwise everywhere only Vada pav and Bread Sandwich only.