I think that towards the end of my stay at Pune, visit to various places became much more frequent. Being a Puneikar for two and half years and not having gone to Shirdi for darshan of Sai Baba temple would have brought disgrace to my reputation as “ Road Warrier”. So, in the month of March’06 me and our paltan went to Shirdi. In a clean,white Tata Sumo 8 IMDRites and my Deepika mate “ Dhritiman aka Mota” who is width is as good as width of 2 persons set off for Shirdidham. We had heard a lot about “ Kakda Aart” of Sai Baba that takes place at 5 am early in the morninig. So,we all gathered at our rachna Apartment flat and left for Shirdi around 10 pm in the night so that we would be able to reach for Kakda Aarti in time. We all had dinner at a roadside dhaba just on the outskirts of Pune and went off on the cool Pune-Ahmednagar Highway…just remember the lyrics of Hotel California -“ On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair……Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air”. But suddenly woke up by the music that was playing inside the Sumo-“ Shukriya Shukriya…dard jo tumne diya”by Agam Nigam…..two extremes…isn’t it?
Around 4'0 clock ,we reached Shirdi...parked our vehicle.....and then went to nearby Lodge for freshening up....damn cheap...for 10 rupees per head u can take bath and get a room for 3 hours.
We were fortunate enough to see the Aaarti. I also collected some Neem leaves from the tree under which Sai Baba used to sit and meditate..
Kakda aarti ritual being performed
Then had a good breakfast at a nearby hotel ...pooris...paranthas....poha.....sabudana kichidi and what not....had a nice tea and we did leave for nearby Shani Singnapur famous for Shani Temple..On the road came across lots of sugarcane carts and the wooden carts for extracting the sugarcane juice...you will come across a lot of them on that road....all colourful ones...
Sugarcane carts extracting sugarcane juice....note that wooden handle are still used to extract juice ( Photo from http://thecookscottage.typepad.com)
At the temple,we had to change in to their clothes and enter the temple....heard lot of anecdotes regarding the temple and the place itself...since there are no doors in any of the houses over there....one anecdote is that anyone who steals is bound to die the same night because of " Shani Dev's Prakop"...I also went through all the rituals as I am a firm believer of "Shani Dev"...and also of Shani Mama at IMDR Library( Neha do you remember him or not ?)
This rock is what people say is " Shani Bhagwanji" and has fallen from sky
Finally, drove back towards Pune...but this time not a cool highway.So hot was the temperature of March Sun that Neha became sick and was on Lohits shoulders ,crying. We had our lunch at a roadside dhaba...had some good roti and dalfry ( perhaps my first experience where in I didn't find non veg food at a highway dhaba ) repaired one pumpture tyre of Sumo and rode back quickly towards Pune....... Finally reached Pune at 3 pm with Saibaba's ashirwad and lots of pedas...Sai Baba ki Jay