End of an awesome trip..

14.11.2016:

11.00 hrs – We were back from Shani Shingnapur to Shirdi. We headed straight to our resort – Sri Sai Athidi Resort, which is good and comfortable and worth the money we paid. We opted for a brunch, but as it was already 11.45 hrs by the time we reached the adjacent restaurant, when they told us that the lunch was ready, we ordered for two North Indian thali (plate). Food was served hot, and the thali consisted of a roti, some hot rice, paneer butter masala, Chole masala, dal and dahi (curd). The food wasn’t that great.. panneer way too far sweet, roti is made of maida, rather atta.. But, we should eat something or other to gain some energy, isn’t it? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰

12.30 hrs – Back in our room which was too cool though the fans were off, we slid ourselves under the warm blankets and slept off. Our train from Shirdi to Hyderabad is at 16.30 hrs from Shirdi station, and remember that I told that this trip would always be a miracle for me? It’s because we booked these tickets under the Tatkaal scheme the other day, where the chances of the ticket getting booked will be like 30% and that too from a place like Shirdi!

15.30 hrs – We checked-out from our resort and headed to the railway station. 15.45 hrs – Into the waiting hall. 16.15 hrs – We were into the train, the berths being Side Upper and Side Lower. 16.30 hrs – The train started. We too started chatting with each other, mostly of our demonetization experiences and how we used our brains in the most tricky situations πŸ˜‰ , about our friends and school times, watched the sunset together and also the supermoon πŸ™‚ . Though we couldn’t make much difference, we kept on watching it as the moon was at it’s best πŸ™‚

19.00 hrs – Our train reached the Manmad junction. We got down and picked up some food from a tapri (make-shift place), who is selling hot mirchi Bhajji, masala dosa and idli. Idli for mythri, a masala dosa for me. I suggest everyone to try food here, as it was fresh, good and tasty. 20.00 hrs – I occupied the upper berth and bid a good night to Mythri.

15.11.2016:

07.30 hrs – I woke up and got down, while Mythri was still sleeping. 09.00 hrs – Train reached Secunderabad Junction and I gave away the rest of the money which was there in my wallet to Mythri so that she can get a cab to her apartment, while my brother Srinu was there at the station to pick me up. First to our uncle’s home and then to Trivandrum..

The End of a short and sweet journey.. πŸ™‚

Stay tuned for my upcoming adventure trip.. πŸ˜‰

 

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Shani Shingnapur – The lockless village

14.11.2016:

06.05 hrs – We were on the road trying to get an auto-rickshaw which can take us to the famous nearby village Shani Shingnapur. Our auto-driver earlier who dropped us at the temple told us that the auto-wala would charge a sum of Rs. 120/- for a to and fro journey from Shirdi to Shani Shingnapur. I think that was the first auto which was ready for it’s first trip of the day πŸ™‚ And there we were telling them the same old story that we don’t have any money left with us, but want to visit the other temple πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ . Thanks to demonetization once again πŸ™‚

The auto was getting filled infront of us, but we were still struggling to convince the auto-driver to find out ways to take us there. Finally, we came with our brilliant idea of swiping our debit cards at any petrol pumps πŸ™‚ . The old driver thought of it for a moment and told us that he would be getting his tank filled by swiping our card and would return the balance amount after our ticket-charges. It seemed to us like hitting a jack-pot. Hurrah! He is gonna give us some hot ready cash in our hands which is very much essential to carry on with our forward journey from Shirdi πŸ™‚

At last, we settled down at the rear end of the auto-rickshaw and the driver brought the engine to life. It was still dark outside and Mythri and I started eating the prasad. Once finished, we dozed off, but couldn’t get a nice lap, as the condition of the road was too bad and there were bumps all the way. It took us almost 1.5 hrs to reach our destination. 08.00 hrs – Our auto stopped infront of a shop from where we can buy the things like oil and flowers to offer at the temple.

Hinduism considers that the planets in our solar system have an impact upon our physiology, psychological structure and the context of our lives. Hence, Hindus consider these planets as forms of different energies and had constructed temples for them. Shani or Saturn, son of the Lord Surya, is considered to be the lord of dominance, distress, depression, disease and disaster. The Indian astrologers, based upon the birth place and time of birth and some other facts calculate when the impact of Saturn can be more in our lives which is known as ‘Saade Saati’ or ‘Yellanati Shani’ (in Telugu), which will last for seven and a half years.

In this phase, one may become more susceptible to depression or distress and in order to bridge those pits, various processes and rituals are associated with Shani temples. These are the temples where Saturn is personified as a God. And Shani Shingnapur is one such temples in India. This temple is not of the regular architecture which one can see throughout India, but the deity is in open space. The deity here is a 5’9” idol made of black stone, mounted on a raised platform in an open place. Usually in every other temples which I visited so far, Lord Shani would be in a sculpt form, but here it is in the form of a stone.

According to Hindu tradition, oil is poured onto the idol of Lord Shani in any temple. Here, there is a large bin in which we can empty the oil packets or bottles and the oil would be poured directly on top of the idol as it passes through the pipes that are connected to the bin. We went around the temple complex after the aarti. Legend is that the idol flowed along with the flood waters and struck in the bushes and a local shepherd tried to release it, and when he tried poking it, the idol started bleeding and the villagers left the idol at the same place after this incident. Later that night, Lord Shani Dev appeared in a villager’s dream and told that it was he and the other morning, the villagers cleared off the bushes and erected the idol and started offering pujas.

But why a lockless village? Coz, the houses in this village doesn’t have any doors and latches, except that they hold some curtains. It is believed that Lord Shani Dev protects the village and no theftΒ will occur here. They villagers also say that if ever a thief attempts to stole something, he goes blind and the things would be intact at the same place as they were placed before. The most astonishing thing is that even the bank and the police station in this village keep up with the tradition and has no locks. It is also a zero-crime village!

Interesting, isn’t it??

 

At the feet of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba..

14.11.2016:

03.45 hrs – Our bus reached one of the famous shrines in India, Shirdi. Many a people from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat visit this shrine every year to offer their prayers and my mom so wanted us to visit this temple from a long time. Though this was not a part of my plan at first, Mythri told me that we can visit the temple and I readily agreed. I don’t know how it happened, but everything came to us Β like a miracle. Firstly, we didn’t know that we will make it to this sacred place. Secondly, the bus reached so early leaving us with a chance to attend the aarti and thirdly, it so happened that today i.e. 14.11.2016 is a full moon day of the ‘Karthika’ month, which is considered to be one of the most auspicious months according to the Hindu tradition.

03.50 hrs – We started looking for an auto-rickshaw to our resort and one needs to bargain hard with these auto-walas, otherwise you will be on the verge of getting looted. Though we bargained hard, as it was the wee hours and there were not many autos around, we paid him a hundred rupees to drop us at our resort and asked him to wait for few minutes so that we can reach the temple in the same auto and thank God, he agreed.

04.05 hrs – Checked-in to the hotel and quickly refreshed ourselves and made a move. The whole idea is to attend the aarti. Aarti is an ancient yet living ritual that takes place every day across India. We left our mobiles back in our rooms as mobiles were not allowed inside the temple complex. Though there were cloak rooms there to safe keep our belongings, we don’t wanted to waste our time there. 04.30 hrs – Started back to the temple and it was so cool early morning. When the driver dropped us at the entrance of the temple, we started running so that we could be among the first people who can get a chance to see the aarti. But we were late by few minutes and we had to stop in the ground floor and watch the aarti in the LCDs that were arranged there 😦

Aarti (aa meas ‘complete’ and rati means ‘love’) is part of a Hindu puja or act of religious worship and is always performed facing the deity. Integral to any aarti puja is the circulation of the lamp around the deity, which acquires the deity’s power. The priest then offers the lamp to the devotees, passing on the deity’s blessing. In the temples of South India, the lamp may use camphor or oil, and it is then presented to the devotees, who hold their hands over the flame and touch their hands to their eyes. The simple gesture signifies a desire for spiritual insight: “May my eyes be opened up to the knowledge of the unity of life.” And the temple icons are often wrapped in silk fabric and beautified with ornaments – these offerings are another way of enhancing the relationship with the Divine, and is part of the ritual of temple worship.

The aarti is performed at Shri Sai Baba’s Mandir, which is the place where his body is resting in Samadhi.Β We moved towards the deity when once the aarti was completed and we had a good darshan (sighting) of the Lord Shri Shirdi Sai Baba. The Samadhi (resting place) is constructed of marble stones and the railings around it are of ornamental decorations. The unique feature of this temple is that it is visited both by Muslims and the Hindus equally and the Muslims offer Chaddars (Shawls) to drape the Samadhi. The idol present here is made up of Italian marble and is life size.

Shirdi Sai Baba is a guru of the Nath tradition, a tradition formulated by Lord Dattatreya based on the instructions of Lord Krishna. The text Sripada Srivallabha Charithamrutham mentions the saint Sripada, incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, calling upon Hanumanji to take birth as Shirdi Sai Baba.Β The distinct feature of the Navanath tradition is the absence of formal procedures or teachings; everything happens in the presence of the guru. Proximity to the guru is paramount; by just being present in his energy field, one gets cleansed and liberated.

Considered to be one of the greatest gurus, it is told that Shirdi Sai Baba often asked for the two coins of shraddha (devotion) and saboori (patience) from those who came to him. The path may sound simple but it is difficult in practice – since even a speck of ego or doership is unacceptable. Had our darshan and gone around the temple complex to see the other important features of it. Dwarakamai, which was an old mosque and Lord Sai turned it into Dwarakamai is situated on the right side of the entrance and has two levels. The importance of this is that it hosts all the things once used by Shri Sai Baba and the legend is that this is the very place where Sai has proved that God is one – Sabka Malik Ek Hai!

They gave prasad (sugar coated boondi) and we were out of the temple by 06.00 hrs πŸ™‚ . For me, this trip would always remain a miracle, as everything was so hassle-free and smooth πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Travelling in Pune..

Pune – a metropolis surrounded by lush green hills and pleasant weather, was once the heart of the Maratha Empire as the Peshwas resided here and today, it’s known as the ‘Oxford of the East’ due to its numerous education institutes. Pune is also best-known for it’s food and cafes.

13.11.2016:

20.30 hrs – The bus reached Shivaji Nagar Railway station and we started walking towards a restaurant for having our dinner when Mythri stopped at a pani-puri wala πŸ™‚ . One of the most popular street foods all over India – Pani Puri (called Puchkas in Bengal and golgappe in Punjab). Puris are puffed, hollow dough balls, fried to a light crispiness and filled with a masala of cooked potatoes, peas or chickpeas, and served with pani (water), a sweet and sour, tangy chutney made with tamarind or coriander. We had 5 puris each and walked towards the restaurant.

The first question we asked the waiter is whether they gonna accept debit cards, and the answer was instant, they do πŸ™‚ . We ordered for some jeera rice, aloo mattar and vegetable raitha as well as some coke. Food tastes better with coke :-p . During our train journey from Lonavala to Pune, Mythri booked our bus tickets to Shirdi, while waiting for the food, I reserved a room for us at Shirdi. Online made everything easy. Thanks to red bus and make my trip πŸ™‚ . We have to kill sometime as our bus is only at 22.30 hrs.

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Thanks to the waiter, as they served our food a bit late, so that the pani puris which we had earlier would have occupied a corner in our stomachs and we can fill the remaining with the food we ordered πŸ˜€ . The food arrived and we ate at a much lesser pace so that we can sit for more time there πŸ˜€ . 21.40 hrs – We finally made a move towards our boarding point which is like a 10 min walk from the restaurant. 22.00 hrs – I made a call to the bus driver to just make sure that we were at the right place waiting for the bus. The bus driver asked us to come to another pick-up point which is like another 5 mins from the point where we were waiting.

22.40 hrs – Boarded the bus to Shiridi, our next destination. Settled down with a blanket covering our faces, I didn’t even notice when our bus moved off πŸ™‚ . A long day.. Wasn’t it??