Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Travel - Part 3 - Shirdi

So here we were at the first stop of our journey at Shirdi. It was around 11 am and as we were starting to hunt for a suitable hotel , it began to rain lightly. Well we actually did not try to get accommodation in any of the Trust Run Buildings because at that time their was quite a long line. When we were still in our room it rained very heavily for half an hour and the whole climate became very cool and totally refreshing when compared to the heat of Delhi. Anyways after taking bath we went in for Darshan in the main temple. It was afternoon and normally at this time of year , there was not much rush and maybe it took us about half an hour to get Darshan at Sai Baba's Samadhi.

After that we were really hungry. So we turned our steps towards the Famous Prasadalay. After walking around 100mtrs from Main temple on the main road, we reached the complex. We purchased the food coupons which were Rs 6 per person(IIRC). Since we had come around 3 pm so here also we didn't encounter any queues. When I entered the main eating area , I was amazed, it was so big , I had somewhere read that NDA(National Defence Academy) had the biggest mess atleast in the whole country, but here this single hall was so big ,a few times bigger than a football field, that I really doubted the accuracy of the NDA mess capacity being the largest !!!. I asked one of the attendants there about the capacity of the Hall and he told 6000, I later found that a similar Hall was also there on the First floor of the complex and so I guess that 6000 figure was the combined capacity of both Floors. But size was not the only thing that was amazing there. The way the people there were serving, the arrangements, cleanliness etc was a sight to see. Everything was running like a clock work , the whole staff knew what to do and how to do. The Prasad was also very good. When we returned back to our room it was already 5. I had decided that it was a good idea to wake up really early the next morning so as to be able to attend "Kakad Aarti" . So I slept very soundly and uninterruptedly from 5 pm to 1:30 am.

When we reached the line , there was a queue , but how long it was , we couldn't make out. After waiting for about half an hour , when the aarti time began, all the people were lead into the main Hall in front of Baba's Samadi. Fortunately we got some place before the Hall was filled up. Then for some time the Holy Chants of Aarti were sang in unison by all the priests, and with this the daily routine of giving Baba a bath from the Holy waters, decorating Baba with fresh attires and later performing Aarti to Baba were performed. During that time a thought came to my mind, "great people or saints spend their whole life in service of others , following routines like rising very early and working very hard for the benefit of others and here I am seeing that even when they are not present with us physically on the earth, they still follow the same routine for the benefit of their devotees". Then slowly but in a well controlled fashion devotees were ushered one by one into the line to have a closer Darshan of Baba. Later we also went to Dwarakamai to see in amazement Baba's kitchen , Dhuni etc. To say that several millennium ago Bhagawan appeared on a place and so we go to visit the temple there is totally different from the fact that there is a place where really in our own time , Baba lived amongst people and the very fact that HE inhabited this soil in not so far a past , is a thought that overpowers you.

It was around 6 am when we were done with the Darshan and so after that we packed our bags and got a seat in a Pune bound bus.

One very important feature of Sai Baba Temples and the other complex managed by Trust was that everywhere I found out that there was no mis-management. Everything was going totally smooth, each security person knew what to do , there was provisions that the devotees face the least inconvinience as long as they are there. At regular interval in the queues , there were LargeScreen TV's so that devotees who are waiting can have a constant virtual Darshan. The main Samadhi Hall of Baba had lots of Gold plating as well as even more silver plating on the pillars and walls. The whole shine of these metals was very beautifully adding to the grandour of Baba's Samadhi and a Life size statue of Sai Baba Himself.
The temple complex had several amenities inside the complex itself, i.e. museum , Bank, ATM, book stalls, eating shops etc etc , I liked these things very much. There were lots of CCTV camera and this implies that the security was quite strict even though to a casual eye it might not be obvious.

Overall I was impressed by the way things were being performed in a clock work fashion.

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