We went on a quick trip to Western part of India; specifically to Shirdi. Though visiting Shirdi was our primary goal, we decided to spend time visiting Nashik and a bit Pune. With a baby, that’s all what we could cover in four days from Kochi.
Our flight from Kochi to Pune was on a Friday afternoon. We decided to directly goto Shirdi. We reached Shirdi by around 9 in the night.
It was my visit to Shirdi. We were barely on time to attend the night Aarti. There are two main aartis in a day. Kakad Aarti at 4:30 in the morning and Shej Aarti at 10:30 in the night. There will be a long queue depending on timing and season. I felt the place has become more a tourist place; you can if sight Pizza Hut or Mc Donald’s. The roads adjacent to the temple premises are full of hotels. The resturants are expensive; though you can find some budget hotels as well. We stayed in a hotel named Temple View. It was a good one and close to the entrance of temple.
Post darshan at Shirdi in the morning, we decided to cover Nashik on the second day. On the way, we had our lunch at Purohit’s Thali Resturant. It was a great and authentic meal.
Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple
Our first target in Nashik was yet another temple — Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple. The temple is an ancient one and an architectural marvel. Coming from South India, the architecture, customs and look of the temple was amazing. Again, you can expect long queues depending on the time of visit and season. Please note that photography is not allowed in any of these temples and fast queue based on payment are available.
Our next target was Sula Vineyards. We wanted to try out both the tour and wine testing :). This was a good experience with the visit to entire Vineyard – yard, factory, storage and so on. Finally you get to taste five to six wines also. In total, it may take around an hour or two here. The tour operates every hour.
Our final destination for the day was Panchvati. Though it made the trip a complete pilgrimage; I like this place the most. We hired an auto (I think this is the best option) to take us to all the temples in Panchvati. The driver was a good person, knowledgeable about the stories behind each place. There are around nine temples in Panchvati. Among them, the one that I liked much was Sita Gumpha. The main temple here is Kalaram Temple built by Sardar Odhekar of Peshwa in 18th century. Here is a good video I came across in YouTube related to Panchvati
On the final day, we went back to Pune. En route, Our first target for the day was Shani Shingnapur. Comparatively, this was the temple with less crowd and streamlined queue system.The interesting fact about this place is that none of the houses have doors. The people believe that no theft will happen because of fear of Shani God.
Post this, we visited more temples; this time couple of Ganesha temples. And thus making the trip a complete pilgrimage. At Pune, we stayed in St. Laurn Business Hotel at Koregaon Park.
Though we couldn’t visit many places in Pune; we managed to visit Darshan Museum. It was a different experience. It is a biographical museum about the life and teachings of Sadhu T. L. Vaswani. What makes the experience different is that, they have made the tour technologically advanced by including audio-visual and affects. Something similar to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at Disney World.
Overall a memorable trip; also the first flight journey for our little princess 🙂