Road journeys – Daman to Mumbai-Shirdi-Nasik

Our next destination was Mumbai for attending the meeting, in guise of which I planned the long-long road journey. Daman to Colaba, Mumbai is 200 km which took us around 4 hours through the very beautiful and useful Bandra-Worli sea link. At 2 PM we shifted to the sponsored excellent accommodation for a change to a formal look. Lunch was served in half an hour thereafter, we reached at WTC Arcade for the meeting. My wife was happy roaming around the lavish lobbies of WTC arcade for almost 2 hours till I ended up with a very fruitful meeting with the CMD of a reputed company by 6 PM. One of my very good friends Ms. Kavita alongwith her 8 yrs old cute daughter Bhavna was supposed to join us on our trip to Shirdi-Nasik because the next day was Sunday, a holiday and would manage one leave on Monday. She lives in Bhyander and hosted our dinner at her home. On the way to her home, a quick stop at the famous Mahalaxmi Temple was a delight and few clicks of Haji Ali Dargah nearby were like boons in disguise.

Haji Ali

Haji Ali



Sea Link

Sea Link

After relishing the home made graceful dinner, after so long, we started our onward journey to Shirdi at 9 pm, a 250 km drive was supposed to take 5-6 hrs. Kavita on the front seat, immaculately navigated through the zig-zags and soon through the Ghodbander road we were on the Eastern expressway to Nasik. I was told that Mumbaikars often travel on this route on weekends for Shirdi and Nasik at this hour so no issues driving till late night there. On the contrary, I didn’t find much private vehicles and was little uncomfortable regarding the route to Shirdi from Igatpuri which is a single and bumpy 100 km drive. Engulfed with apprehensions of adversities, with three ladies on board, I was a bit skeptic to whether go Shirdi or halt at Nasik which is relatively safer because of the HW throughout. Kavita on the other hand was confident and relaxed about the safety issues. In a state of topsy-turvy, I stopped at a large food joint (not many on this route) at Igatpuri for a stretch, fags & refreshment to ladies. I was pleased to see a few private vehicles parked there, on enquiring most of them revealed of their return journey to Mumbai and suburbs. One Innova driver was however, going Shirdi with ladies on board and assured about a safe journey except that the road from Ghoti to Shirdi is single and mostly dusty and bumpy.

He was on first instance very impressed about knowing us from Delhi. He had once tried luck in Delhi and stayed in Laxmi Nagar for one year was fallen for the city as usual but luck pushed him back because of his mother’s ill health and since then staying in a slum in Khar near Bandra. While chatting, he was extremely happy recalling the names of the Delhi-NCR localities, praising proudly, every thing about his lavish life style way back in 2002-03 during his stay in Delhi. The best part was living in a two room flat in Laxmi Nagar sharing with his UP’ian partner, both of whom worked in an export house in Noida. Sadly, he submitted that it is a distant opportunity with his limited income to afford a rented apartment in Mumbai. Talking to the Marathi-Manush Mr. Swarup was so nice that I preferred to follow him upto Shirdi. As informed, the entire stretch upto Shirdi was dusty, bumpy, narrow and full of pot holes. I repeatedly, asked Kavita if we were on some alternate route because it was unbelievable to see the road in such bad shape to a so important destination, visited by so many devotees every day. The answer was more surprising, the road condition was the same even during her last visit in 2010. Kudos to the civic bodies of Maharashtra for their good job, the Eastern Expressway is no better either. Well, many thanks to the Innova driver, because the road from Ghoti onward was really lonely and the caring fellow, understanding my state of mind bothered to wait on every turns by slowing down his vehicle because indications for Shirdi was also missing. Later, I realized that following the Innova was a sensible and wise decision on my part. At 2 AM we reached Shirdi but without much wrestling, got a nice 4-bed accommodation at Rs. 800/- near the newly constructed Sai Dham Dharamshala, which was pack.

Early next morning, we set out for Darshan of Sai Baba, a long queue disheartened us because we were planning to visit Shani Singhnapur also and reach Nasik before its dark. I tried to get a VIP darshan ticket available for Rs. 200/- probably but to our hard luck even that was not available before 1 pm. With no options, we joined the long queue, soon followed by many more and in almost 4 hours, had the glimpse of divine darshan. With a kid, it was very pitiable to wait so long however, the blissful darshan of beatific Sai Baba compensated relaxing from all stress incorporating the soul with rejuvenated euphoric energy. The recently introduced free Prasad of Laddu made out of Desi Ghee was our first intake since the morning. After visiting the other places of importance inside the temple viz. some small temples near Gate No. 1 besides Guru Sthan, Lendi Baug and Dwarkamai we went to the huge Prasadam (a large eatery run by shrine board) situated a few meters opposite to the main shrine, for the meal.

Another long queue for tickets was again painful, but I couldn’t ignore the ladies’ wish and after almost one hour collected the tokens. The meal is charged @ Rs. 40/- per adult and Rs. 20/- per child above 5 years for serving on table and half the price for serving it on floors in its big dining halls. Another long wait at the dining hall was the height of limit and here I grudged in spontaneous exasperation. Kavita however, managed to make way a little earlier than usual and till we finished the mandatory job, it was 3 pm already. We therefore, curtailed our Shani Singhnapur visit and preferred to reach Nasik instead, which is close to 90 km from Shirdi via Sinnar on the same way on which we traveled last night upto Sinnar, from there on a straight single and better road upto Nasik.

Nasik is known for temples and is an important pilgrimage according to Hindu mythology, was my first visit. Staying options are available at Mukti Dham run by the trust with AC & Non AC rooms and dormitories ranging from Rs. 300/- to Rs. 1000/- but I preferred a hotel nearby with ample space for four of us ideally located at a bargain of Rs. 1,300/-. Next morning, we visited the Godavari Ghat fondly also referred as Ganga for its religious relevance by the locals. A large parking place beside the ghat solved the worries of placing the car.

A common sight

A common sight

A Modern Temple

A Modern Temple

Ram Kund

Ram Kund

Ramkund is one of the holy tanks of much importance on the banks of River Godavari, built in 1696 by Chitrarao Khatarkar believed to be used by Sri Ram and Sita Ji for bathing during their stay of exile hence, considered very pious. Like any other holy places in India the sanctity here too has been least bothered with common sight of wastes scattered all around. In profound grief and spontaneity I uttered the RK movie song Ram teri ganga maili ho gayi……..! Why are we so insensitive towards preserving our heritage so ignorantly? Why stern actions not taken against those spoiling the sanctity of such heritages in guise of religious practices? Is it not the responsibility of every devotee to maintain cleanliness like they do to their own homes? Why can’t we learn lessons from other religious shrines, say the Gurudwara, Church, Mosques? Every time we visit to any such sites with so pitiable condition, it hurts like anything and anger fires upon the so called patrons available there who have no better jobs than to earn money by all means. At least they should treat such sites as their work place and do the needful to maintain the sanctity and cleanliness with as much devotion as they show while earning out of it.

Age old Shrine

Age old Shrine

Godavari Kunds

Godavari Kunds

Rituals by Ladies at Ram Kund

Rituals by Ladies at Ram Kund

Well! The journey continues and we entered to the much revered Shree Kapaleshwar Mahadev Temple on the upper side on the other bank of Godavari by alighting few steep steps. Looked like an age old temple uniquely, there was an absence of Nandi in the temple premise. Offering prayers we stepped down and visited another shrine of similar era situated in the narrow lane which was the famous temple of Goreram a form of Sri Ram carved out of white marble. A few steps further on the same road we found an auto rickshaw offering to take us to other sites and also act as a guide for Rs. 150/-. Without bargaining, we stepped in the almost new auto and reached Panchvati. Five very old banyan trees marked one-five are supposed to give the place its name. A temple beside one of such tree is called Sita Gufa with a low-narrow tunnel to enter inside and exit from the adjoining one for darshan. Our driver cum guide informed that here was where, Sita ji got lured by the golden deer and later abducted by the Ravana in guise of a saint. An age old Shivlinga inside the temple is supposed to be the same which was worshiped by Sita.

Gore Ram Darshan

Gore Ram Darshan

Kapaleshwar Mahadev Temple

Kapaleshwar Mahadev Temple

Sita Gufa at Panchwati

Sita Gufa at Panchwati

A few steps from there are the very famous and the largest and most architecturally designed temple of Kalaram. After visiting the relevant ones, I asked our guide, is there any sign of the Lakshman Rekha, was promptly replied, yes and took us to a place near the Sita Kutir where a stream of water through a canal flowing, was what he said, is the Lakshman Rekha. Not so convinced, we nodded and further reached at Tapovan, a confluence of River Godavari and River Kapila was the place where Lakshman cut the nose of Surpanakha and also considered important due to meditations done by many saints on the banks of the holy river here.

Entry to Kala Ram Temple

Entry to Kala Ram Temple

Godavari Ghats

Godavari Ghats

Piece of Artistry at Godavari Ghats

Piece of Artistry at Godavari Ghats

Our auto ride was over on getting down at the parking of Godavari ghat. Rs. 150/- was a true value for money for a guided tour. I wanted to pay Rs. 200/- which was humbly refused by the self esteemed gentle man. Our next site was a visit of Trimbakeshwar almost 40 km from Nasik on a well maintained road. At around 11 am we headed towards the Jyotirling. In less than one hour we reached there with ease, a 10 min walk from the parking lot was the main entry of the shrine but a two hour waiting was not affordable because Kavita needed to go back Mumbai by bus and we were supposed to drive a long distance upto Ahmedabad. It was decided to buy a Rs. 250/- ticket for special entry which took only 5 mins for the darshan of the divine Lingam. Happily this was my 3rd Jyotirling darshan the others being Kashi-Vishwanath at Varanasi and Baidyanath Dham at Jharkhand. Thriving for a darshan to all the rest and wish the wish to fulfill with God’s blessings sooner or later. The instinct grew stronger while reading the extraordinarily written post on Bhimashanker by Mr. Mukesh Bhalse on their 10th Jyotirling yatra which I suppose will end up with all the twelve by him soon. On your way Mukesh Bhai so gear up.

Trimbakeshwar Shrine. Courtesy web

Trimbakeshwar Shrine. Courtesy web

By 2 pm we were back to Mumbai-Naka from where, Kavita boarded a Neeta travel’s Volvo for Mumbai and we were on wheels to Ahmedabad which is almost 500 km from Nasik. Confusions created because of many exits from Nasik to join the preferred NH-8 brilliant HW, already once drove on the way to Mumbai. One can reach the NH-8 through various roads from Nasik via Vapi, Atul, Valsad, Navsari or Surat. I preferred a safer, better and scenic route preferably with some worth visiting place on way. A travel agent solved the problem by strictly advising to go Surat via Saputara, the only hill station in Gujrat on the borders of Maharashtra. The distance upto the bye-pass of Surat hitting NH-8 is around 250 km through a real good view landscape on a single and very good tar. Soon we were in the ghats of Saputara with many tourists available and lots of staying options.

A halt there, doing with a fag and capturing few clips of the lush green hills and valleys was a real worth coming on this route. There, we met Mr. Mahesh from Bharuch working in a fertilizer company, in a Beat Diesel with family, also enjoying the nature’s beauty on his way back from Nasik. We had a chat which revealed of a better route to Surat than the prescribed one which he had followed on his visit to Nasik and found it bumpy at some stretches. I too joined the trail and with his kind cooperation reached Surat bye-pass comfortably following him through all good tarred roads in no time. On a halt at a level crossing, 10 km prior to parting the generous gentleman, we offered them courteous thanks for all his favors.

It was 7 pm and we were still 250 km away from our destination, the only relief was the NH-8 upto Ahmedabad with a 100 km expressway from Vadodara. If all goes right, it would take not more than 4 hours and we would reach Ahmedabad by 11 pm, was my calculation. I asked my wife if she could handle the non-stop, else we may stay at Vadodara where her cousin lives, to avoid night driving as decided. She said lets see, we may decide it on reaching Vadodara.

The journey continues……

16 Comments

  • Nandan Jha says:

    So from Daman to Mumbai, meeting business and family folks, night drive to Shirdi and then hours and hours of wait time, you have quite a stamina Ajay. :-)

    I liked the ghats of Nasik and the overall feel of the place. Never been there. Could not agree more on the overall cleanliness and hygiene, guess it wont happen until these places are run by professional trusts like Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. May be we need a ‘Minister of Religious places’ at centre and state to devise polices, implement them and to see that all these places which attract a super huge populace is run efficiently. We might save millions ( in terms of time saved) and might actually begin to attract more people (people like me and Nirdesh) and in the end giving a massive boost to ‘Religious Tourism’. There is a definitely a mix of History and Religion , sitting somewhere to be leveraged for everyone’s benefit.

    Apart from your stamina, greater kudos to your better half for sustaining and partnering. It is always more difficult for the co-passenger in these long drives. Salute.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Thank you so much Nandan, how we wish our politicians be more sensible and hear such suggestions. I agree, co-passengers go more fatigued than the driver on such long drives. My wife blushed on your comment for her and thanked you. This is Ghumakkari, which ignite more with so good comments.

    Regards
    Ajay

  • rakesh bawa says:

    Ajay Ji, Namaskar. Very nice blog for the places I am quite unfamiliar with like Nasik and Shirdi. It was a record breaking drive I think so and hail your spirit.

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Namaskar Bawa Saheb,

      Your long drive to Ahmedabad in 800 without AC in summer was more zealous and inspiring. So nice to hear your humble appreciations.

      Keep traveling
      Ajay

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Ajay ji,

    Another excellent and interesting post from your treasure. As per my personal experience Tryambakeshwar Jyotirling is most crowded among all and it remains always uncertain to get darshan in common queue in a certain time limit.

    It really sounds great that you have stepped up on the way to jyotirling darshan, my best wishes are always with you.

    Thanks.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Mukesh Bhai,
    Its always nice to hear from avid ghumakkars like you. Yes, on your way and completed darshan of 4 including Somnath, long way though but on the way. May God fulfill the wish.

    Another Jyotirling at Baidyanath Dham in Jharkhand is more crowded and chaotic and there is no VIP tickets I believe. The crowd multiply to impossible during Shravan with millions of Kanwariyas carrying holy water from Sultanpur, Bihar walking 80 km.

    Keep traveling
    Ajay

  • silentsoul says:

    Excellent log…. the details are interesting and the fotos are revealing.

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      SS, thanks a lot again for the appreciation. REVEALING, that is what a photograph means hence, tried to relate them with the narration.

      Keep traveling
      Ajay

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Ajay,

    Now we are in familiar terrain! Roads in Maharashtra are generally below average barring the few NHs. The road from Mumbai to Nashik and onwards to Yeola is good because a certain minister lives there.

    Nasik used to be a nice city ten years ago; now it has gone to the dogs. It broke my heart when i was there last. The less said about the religious circuit the better. People were washing their vehicles in the ghat – same vehicles that brought ‘devotees’. I just cant understand the filth around the temples. There is no way I can stand in a queue for four hours. HE understands so that is okay! I took the short cut in Shirdi! Another 100 kms to the west and you could have visited another Jyotirling Grishneshwar which I think is relatively uncrowded.

    That is a lot of driving – a true ghumakkar.

    Keep them coming!

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Dear Nirdesh,
      Agree with you, 4 hour wait was too much to bear for me too but sometimes your own wish do not prevail always. Last time with no ladies around, I too managed a short-cut. Coming to the vehicle-wash scene, washing of clothes and the entire area full of garbage was what incited me to react and mention them in my narration.

      Yes Nirdesh you are right Grishneshwar Shrine is in Aurangabad, I missed that even last year when I visited there. This time, I preferred visiting Nasik which was my first time.

      Thanks for the Ghumakkar-Tag

      Keep traveling
      Ajay

  • injamaven says:

    ‘age-0ld shrine’ seems to be in Odisha style, wonder why that is? was it built by an Odissi?

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Hi! Injamaven,
    Thanks for visiting. Well, I dont understand there is any cultural proximity between Nasik & Odisha but best known to historians.

    Keep traveling
    Ajay

  • Naturebuff says:

    Hi Ajay,

    Nice post… the entire series actually! Next time you go to Nashik, do visit the ‘Gargoti’ stone museum in Sinnar. It is stunning! It has various stones (minerals) found naturally, especially from the deccan area and also some others. It is a huge effort by the owner and truly worth a dekho… even for those not interested in Geology in particular.

    We had visited a few years back and have very fond memories of the place. An absolute treasure!!!

    Regards

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    @Naturebuff
    Thanks dear for so good information. It was new to me, after little digging, now I really regret of not being informed about the India’s only mineral museum. A sure visit next time. Thanks for updating and appreciating the road-journey series.

    Keep traveling
    Ajay

  • Avtar Singh says:

    Hi Ajay ji

    Wow! Great dedication with extra ordinary will power!

    Brilliant ghumakkari with minutes detail, you covered every thing.

    Agree with Nandan, copassanger tires more than the driver, so your wife too deserves the credit.

    Your anguish and anger on temple managements is quite appropriate.

    Pics are beautiful.

    • AJAY SHARMA says:

      Dear vtarji,
      My humble regards for the moral boosting remarks. It was a spontaneous urge to mention the pitiable and shameful status of our irresponsible act at the revered places and also the indifference of the responsible management.

      Yes, you are right, she deserves applaud for her support in the tedious long journey. Thanks for your kind words.

      Keep traveling
      Ajay

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