December 17, 2016

Quote of the Post: "Shirdi Saibaba Temple truly attracts millions of devotees of all religions, castes and creed from all over the world and deserve to be in India's most famous shrines." - Quote about 'Saibaba Temple, Shirdi' - Sachin Kumar Gupta

If you are searching for Shirdi Sai Baba visit, what you should know about, what to keep in mind, what places to visit in Shirdi Temple, what instructions to follow, what are the Puja timings, you are at the right place. The Shirdi Saibaba Temple, located at Shirdi, Maharashtra, India attracts millions of devotees of all religions, castes and creed who come to pay homage to Shri Sai Baba from all around the world. The temple is a beautiful shrine that was built over the Samadhi of Shri Sai Baba. Shirdi is a small village in Kopargam taluka, in Ahmadnagar District of the Maharastra State. Shirdi is located about 270 kms from Mumbai (MH) and about 190 kms from Pune (MH) in India. If you are planning to travel by train, Kopargaon (KPG), Manmad Jn (MMR), Nasik Road (NK) and Aurangabad (AWB) are 4 nearby train stations near Shirdi.

Important Instructions for Shirdi Sai devotees: These points I have collected after my visits to this place, and also includes family and friend's experiences.
- If you have not visited this place before, make sure on arrival at Shirdi, devotees should immediately get in touch with one of the Niwassthan Office for booking of their accommodation which will be made available after registration of name and other particulars. No deposit is required for accommodation.
- Sai Devotees are requested that they should not keep of their  foot wears any where except Chappal stand. it is near Darshan 'Q' entrance.
- Sai Devotees are requested not to carry their cell phones and cameras in Samadhi Mandir. Please keep it in lockers provided by Sansthan in Mandir Premises.
- All the devotees, especially women and diabetic persons, are requested to eat some food before joining the darshan queue as during heavy rush days time required for darshan will be from 2 to 3 hours.
- It would be best to keep all your belongings in your vehicle only, so you can save some time. 
- Thursday is the day Saibaba is specially worshipped. On this day devotees from all over India visit Shirdi for Darshan of Saibaba.
- For VIP pass, only one family member need to be in queue, and now cashless (card) payments are also available. It may take more than an hour on weekdays and more than 2 hours on weekend, and important dates. 
- Now Online Darshan Booking has introduced for Sai devotees which are providing them an option of not standing in a queue for several hours to have darshan of Siababa Samadhi Mandir. Refer this link Devotees need to be first register themselves in the Website and create an Account, after that they can select the Online services like Darshan, Accommodations, Donation, etc and make their payments online.
- It was good to see that the devotees were being offered free tea/ water / coffee while they waited in queues.
- As the Samadhi Mandir is overcrowded at the time of Aarti, devotees should safeguard their ornaments and purses from pick-pocketers and take care their children.
- All the necessary assistance and guidance is readily available to the devotees at the Niwassthan Office of the Shri SaiBaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi.
- As the various dealers and vendors of Pooja articles are not connected with the Shri SaiBaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi, devotees should first fix the price before buying these articles to avoid any trouble thereafter.
- Medical facilities are available at the well-equipped  Hospital run by the Shri SaiBaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi.
- The Laddu counter is always very crowdy. Free dry boondi also distributed in similar 50 gms packet per head.
- The three main festivals in Shirdi are of two to four days each. They are Ramnavami (March/April), Guru Purnima (July),and Vijayadashami (September). 
- There are programme running throughout the year of puja, music (bhajan) public parayana (reading of scriptures and devotional texts) and exuberant processions with the palanquin and the Rath (cart).

Make sure to visit all places within the Shirdi temple boundary. 
Sri Sai Baba Samadhi Mandir
Shri Saibaba Sansthan Temple
Dixit Wada Museum
Lendi Baug
Maruti Mandir
Dwarkamai Masjid
Baba's Chavadi
Adul Baba Cottage

Literature about Shri Sai Baba containing authentic information in various languages has been published by the Shri SaiBaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi at reasonable prices and is readily available at its Book shops near the Samadhi Mandir.

Khandoba Mandir: Khandoba Mandir is situated on the main road. In front of this temple Baba was welcomed by Poojari Mhalsapati of this temple, who said "Aao Sai (Come Sai)", when Baba stepped in Shridi. In this temple there are icons of Khandoba, Banai and Mhalsai.

Daily Sai Darshan Puja Timing: The worship schedule at Shirdi Saibaba temple begins early in the morning that continues till late in night. (As of 2016 - It may change.)
·         4:30: Dwarkamai, Gurusthan, Chavadi open
·         5:00: Mandir opens, Bhupali, Abhishekam at Gurusthan
·         5:15: Kakad (morning) Arati, Naivedyam of butter and sugar to Baba in Samadhi Mandir, Oil offered to the lamps in Dwarkamai
·         5:40: Bhajan in Saibaba Mandir
·         6:00: Mangal Snaan (washing) of Statue and Samadhi in Samadhi Mandir
·         7:00: Darshan begins in Samadhi Mandir
·         9:00: Naivedyam in Samadhi Mandir and Dwarkamai
·         8:00 -10:30: Satyanarayana Pooja
·         11:30: Dhuni Pooja with rice and ghee in Dwarkamai
·         12:00: Mid day Arati
·         12:30: Naivedyam in Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai and Gurusthan
·         4:00: Pothi (Devotional reading/Study) in Samadhi Mandir Sunset: Dhoop (evening) Arati
·         6:30: Naivedyam in Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai and Gurusthan
·         8:00 - 9:00: Devotional Songs in Samadhi Mandir and other Cultural Programs (if any)
·         9:00: Chavadi and Gurusthan close
·         9:30: In Dwarkamai water is given to Baba, a mosquito net is hung and the hanging lamp is lit
·         9:45: Dwarkamai (the upper part) closes
·         10:30: Shejarati -Shej (night) Arati, after this , a shawl is wrapped around the statue in the Samadhi Mandir, a Rudraksha mala is put around baba's neck, Mosquito net is hung, and a glass of water kept there
·         11:30: Samadhi Mandir closes after night Arati

Apart from these there are other nearby destinations like Trimbakeshwar jyotirlinga, Shani Shingnapur, Renuka Mata Temple, Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga, Ajanta and Ellora, Vani Saptashrungi Shakti peeth devi temple, Muktidham & Panchvati Temple in Nashik are located within 150 km from Shirdi that can be visited by the tourists here.

Om Shirdi Sai.

November 20, 2016

If you would like to visit a nature's place like Lavasa, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani or Matheran but not as crowded, Camp Temgarh could be right destination near Mulshi. Prior to visit I did not have a high expectation from this place. Camp Temgarh is truly an experience amidst the nature with overwhelming hospitality which is as par with Taj Group of hotels (like my last Kumarakom Kerala trip). I had an awesome outing with Chanchal, Dilip, Sanjay, Satyajit and Sunil. We all friends enjoyed each other's company like we used to enjoy during our engineering days. It was a nice decision that we chose Camp Temgarh for one day stay. 

CAMP TEMGARH: Lavasa Road, Mulshi Taluka, Pune Maharashtra - 411032
Directions to Camp Temgarh - The best thing is that the place is not far from Pune. From Chandni Chowk on your way to Lavasa, cross Mutha Gaon and then Kharawade gaon. 1.5kms from Kharawade on the right is a blue bus stop with Ananda Ashram board. Turn left from the bus stop, go straight for 600 mtrs and turn right. Exactly 800mtrs from here on the right is Camp Temgarh.

We booked bungalow (Rajan's bungalow), for which Camp Temgarh is known among nearby villagers. Though there are cottages and Swiss tents for stay as well. This farmhouse is spread across huge resort campus. We reached there in the evening. Though high-tea time was over, but on request we get ginger tea (adarak vali chai). There is a gazebo which has unique experience during the day as well as night. Evenings are for old movies – hook up the projector in the gazebo. 

This farmhouse is perfect place for celebrating a relaxed bonfire, food, antakshari and dance. Guess what, we had all together under clear sky, and on a full moon night. Chanchal did great job bringing speaker. We had full house game and Teen Patti all night. At this moment, none win or lose as all 500 & 1000 notes were ban through out. In the morning, Beautiful views and surroundings overwhelmed us. We also had small trek to riverside, and loved the morning dew and soothing breeze. We observed many holes (could be of snakes, rats or any other animal) on our trek, so be in shoes and don't leave children alone. I captured the sunrise and many other pictures during my stay. 

We met many friendly people with high quality service, food and atmosphere at CT. All our requests were fulfilled within time. Mahavir and his team are just amazing, they make sure that our stay be comfortable and memorable. I would say - Rajan! keep them, these friendly people are your strength. Tasty fresh food is big big plus at CT. They also have mineral water all the time freely available. They also have refrigerator in the Gazebo to chill beverages. It was surprising to see over-friendly dogs, with whom we play for few time (specially Satya & Sanjay). CT also have facility for multiple options of games as soccer/basketball/volleyball/TT/snooker/badminton, and trampoline for children. We also played as per our choice as we had few in our own kit as well. Biking, Fishing and bird-watching can also be enjoyed here. Good to see dustbins around the farmhouse to dump all the waste. If you are visiting this place during monsoon, don't forget to carry raincoats, umbrellas, good quality shoes, and lights/torch for night. What I feel that rooms can be managed in a better way in bungalow. 

The place is very well maintained and truly fit for family and friends of all age and groups. Great place to celebrate small team events. Only note, this could feel like a haunted place, if visiting on weekday alone or as a couple, unless someone has craze to explore haunted place. But place is quite safe, clean, and surrounded by nature at its best. We will love to visit it again.

After checkout we spent few time at Temghar Dam and then back to Pune. 

November 14, 2016

I was quite excited on children's day 14 November. The moon was at its biggest & brightest in the sky after 68 years (since 1948). The moon was closer to Earth than usual on its orbit and the side facing us was fully illuminated by the sun. For anyone who doesn’t get a chance to see it, here is a stunning photo of the supermoon. I have shot the Full SuperMoon with my NIKON D5100 (55-300 mm lens). These photographs are taken from Wagholi, Pune area. For more truly striking photo, you should drive a little out of the city so there’s less light pollution to contend with. (unless you are living in the middle of the desert in which case you'll have the best view) SHARE if you LIKE. You may have these as your desktop wallpaper. 

Supermoon Photography camera settings (How to Take a Non-Crappy Picture of the Moon):
Aperture: Set your aperture to f/11. 
Shutter Speed: Set your shutter speed to 1/125 on cameras with base ISO 100, and to 1/250 on Nikon DSLRs with base ISO 200. 
Lens Focus: Set your lens to manual focus (either through a switch on the lens or on the camera) and set your focus to infinity.

As per various sources, this (so bright & closest) won’t happen again for 18 years. But there’s another super moon on December 14, 2016 which coincides with the Geminid meteor shower.

August 20, 2016

If you are visiting Bhimashankar temple or Natural Potholes near Takali Haji or Lenyadri caves at Junnar or Ozar Astivinayak temples or Shivneri fort or Ramling Temple at ShirurYou can also include visiting Yamai Devi Temple at Kanhersar (Kanersar) near Rajgurunagar. 

If you are coming from Aundh, Wakad, Pimpri Chinchwad or Hinjawadi side, you have to reach Rajgurunagar via Chakan first, then take the turn which goes to Shirur. You will see Yamai Devi Temple at road-side only at Kanhersar. [60 KM] 
If you are coming from Wagholi or Lonikand side, take turn at Koregaon Bhima which leads to Chouphula and then Kendur, after few KM you will reach Yamai Devi Temple at Kanhersar. [36 KM] 

The temple is quite clean and you will for sure get peace of mind here. It has Main gate and Mangal office gate which leads inside temple. Compound has a small beautiful garden, Sabhamandap, temple gallery. Inside the temple, There is quite unique old water-well point, where people used to draw water from multi-pulley system. 

Once you are in the temple, I am sure you will love the place. There are many beautiful paintings in the temple. We had taken few photographs at the temple, and stayed there for 25-30 minutes, then we moved towards Bhimashankar

August 7, 2016

Quote of the Post: "Bhimashankar is definitely God's unique creation worth visiting for jungle lovers, trekkers as well as devotees." - Quote about 'Bhimashankar Maharashtra' - Sachin Kumar Gupta 

Bhimashankar is a wildlife sanctuary. In the heart of this is Bhimashankar temple (Bhimashankar Shiv Mandir) which is one of the 12 Jyotirlings of India. This temple is very famous in Pune and people from all around the world come to visit this temple. Many devotees visit this place almost every year. This was my second visit here and the serenity and spirituality remained intact. It is overcrowded on weekends and Mondays of Shravan month. My last visit was during weekend, however couldn't visit the main temple due to long queue. Still with an awesome weather, we enjoyed the place with Meenal, Anmol and Anshul. 

This time, i.e. during my second visit, we visited on Tuesday to get sometime inside the temple and ample time to visit the main Jyotirling place. The condition of the road is good and best time to visit is during monsoon (July - Sep). Though any time of the year is good to visit Bhimashankar. With clouds touching your feet and scenic views all over, it's a delight to visit this place. Bhimashankar Temple, located in the village of Bhorgiri. It is approx 3-4 hours drive from pune (130 KM) and 4-5 hours from Kalyan, Mumbai (180 KM) and 5-6 hours from Nashik (210 KM). 

Don't forget to carry an umbrella and also some good anti-skid footwear. It really gets very slippery while climbing up and down the steps. Ghats are really good for trekking and road-trip. You will also get colorful bodycover polysheets in monsoon (20-30 INR per sheet). One drawback is the temple is overcrowded and a lot of mismanagement happens for parking on weekend and Sravan month Mondays. You may also have to walk 1-2 km on the roads from parking during peak timings. Once you reach main entry point named and tagged as 'Shree Kshetra Jai Bhimashankar', you'll have to step down nearly 300+ steps to reach main temple. But steps are well built so that nobody have any difficulty in walking through the steps. For the old age and sick peoples there are some arrangements of palki with reasonable rates.  

The temple has the Nagara style architecture, however one cant capture it in lens as Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple. Don't forget to see a giant 17th Century bell inside the temple. We were also happy to see two Nandi closely. You can also have waterproof cam specially if visiting during monsoon. It is also the origin place of river Bhima. At times during monsoon, visibility becomes almost zero with fog all around. It is the beauty of the place, which makes you feel so heavenly. We enjoyed rain and fog the whole time during both our visits.  

Three worship services are offered every day. Mahashivratri is a season of great festivity here. Temple schedule is as follows:
04:30 AM Kakada Aarti
05:00 AM Nijarup Darshan
05:30 AM Regular Pooja,Abhishek starts
12:00 PM Naivedya Pooja (No Abhishek inside)
12:30 PM Regular Pooja,Abhishek starts
03:00 PM Madhyan Aarti (No Darshan for 45min)
04:00 PM to 9.30 PM Shringar darshan (No Abhishek inside)
07:30 PM Aarti
09:30 PM Mandir Closed

Note: Except Monday, Pradosh, Shravan Mass, Mahashivratri - Present Abhisheka (Abhishek inside temple ) till 2.00 PM.
On Monday, Pradosh, Shravan Mass, Mahashivratri - Present Abhisheka (Abhishek inside temple ) till 6.00 PM

Once you are out of the temple after visit the jyotirling, you can also hike towards the hills behind the temple, where we took a short trip during our first visit. We found streams of natural falls that wipe away journey's fatigue. Places that can be visited in are Hanuman Lake, Gupt Bhimashankar, Origin of River Bhima, Nag Phani, Bombay Point, Sakshi Vinayak and a lot more. The picturesque beauty of the place cannot be captured with mix of rain, fog & mist weather, and done justice using a camera for sure. During stair-way, there are many vendors selling yummy crispy hot vada pav, corns, fresh sweets and other snacks. We had lunch at Natraj Restaurant, which had good quality food with decent price. (The place is 10 KM away from Bhimashankar temple)

The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Vaidyanath near Parli Dist Beed, Trimbakeshwara near Nashik, Grishneshwar near Aurangabad and Aundha Nagnath Temple in Hingoli. One day visit to Bhimashankar clubbing one of the places nearby and during monsoon to explore nature at it's best. 

Recommendation: You can also visit Lenyadri caves at Junnar or Ozar Astivinayak temples or Shivneri fort and come back by Narayangaon Nasik Pune highway.

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