Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Last Great Trip with a future NRI

Maharashtra's Religious & Historic tour to Shirdi and Ellora Caves spread over 2 days.

We(roomies) always wanted to go for a long trip on our Zen for quite some time. :)
Sometimes we planned for Nanded, sometimes "The Great Konkan Beach" circuit but nothing was happening till yet.

Finally, the plan to Shirdi was executed with Ajay, Navdeep(baba) and Sid G. :)

Plan :
Day 1
  • Start Early, Drive from Pune to Shirdi, Darshan and proceed to Ellora.
  • Spend night at a hotel/lodge near the caves.

Day 2:
  • Morning darshan at Grishneshwar Temple, Verul.
  • Visit Ellora Caves, end by 2pm.
  • Proceed to Aurangabad for "Bibi ka maqbara" and Panchaki.
  • On the way back, visit "Shani Shignapur".
  • Drive back to Pune by 9pm.

We mostly did "stick" to the plan.
As always, we could never start early. :)
All Ready

We were on road by 9am and reached Shirdi by 2pm battling bad roads and unexpected rain. We went thro' Ahmednagar. There is a diversion just before Ahmendagar which says to  take left for Shirdi. Don't take that road. Keep on the four-lane road. This will meet the diverted road again. The diverted road is full of potholes and heavy trucks! We lost the wheel-caps of the car due to potholes.

The four-lane road is also not very good and is highly patched. At some places, the speed was 5kmh MAX.

We managed to reach Shirdi temple area by 2 pm. We had VIP darshan tickets(booked online). We parked just in front of temple entrance at Hotel temple view, Rs70.

We had a quick darshan in about 15 minutes thanks to passes and rain. last time, it took us more than 4 hours thro' normal queue.

After lunch, we proceeded towards Kopargaon and took bypass to the right for Mumbai-Nagpur highway. The road was good up to some point. We were now in a fix to either go to Auranagabad or to Ellora. We took a left turn at Lasur, had tea and asked locals about road ahead.
They said the road from Lasur to Aurangabad is "Super" 4-lane. We had just paid toll tax. And other one was 2-lane with link road of approx 11 kms.

What better than taking decision on a rainy evening, standing next to a muddy road, body aching and a refreshing cup to Tea.

Since I had already enquired about hotels near Ellora and wanted to keep next day schedule on track, I insisted to take "The Road less travelled". Not everyone was agreeing, but I somehow negotiated. We just wanted a room to sleep and had no more energy for hotel analysis.

The link road was single and empty. Such was the level of our fears that we did not even stop for a loo break even though we wanted one badly. :P
I stopped just on touching SH16 and we discharged ourselves hoping for better roads.
But it was just not the day. :(

After exiting from highway towards left, we refuelled our car (fuel prices less than city). The road looked great with "Welcome to Ellora" signs. Just after a few more KMs, the road was almost gone. Same old story again. Everyone stopped even talking at this point, such was the level of frustrations.

But these are the type of moments that make or break relations. We all kept our cool and they all trusted me to keep the plan. We crossed Ellora Caves and road uphill towards Auragnabad(3kms) and got to the hotel. It turned out to be a Lodge. The rooms were just okay to spend the night. 1800 for 4-bedded room.

I had choosen it due to price factor and to maximise next day sight-seeing. But now, given a choice I won't live there. Will either take "Hotel Kailas" right next to caves or live at Aurangabad.

Anyway, our jokes were back again and "sukhbir badal" helped a lot in it. More on that later. :P
We had night tea on the lonely road with cool weather. Very relaxing.

We had a good night sleep. I was happy to see Djokovic winning in 3 sets against Nishikori at WTF, London.
Next day, we hoped to start the day afresh with good rewarding experience.
Just before starting, Ajay went down to clean-up the very tired car. He left fan on to vaporise the water at the mats. We had coffee and biscuits and all set to proceed towards Grishneshwar temple.
Bingo, the self-starter was not working! The battery got drained. We all learn from mistakes and here was a lesson.
There was another group, I guess from Andhra(no new state names!). They trouble-shooted and started the car by pushing. (Read "dhaka-start").

We paid our thanks and took GPS to go to the temple.

Grishneshwar Temple (12th and last Jyotirlinga)
This was my 3rd Jyotirlinga to be covered and a great feat. When Sid got to know that the temple is a Jyotirlinga, he got very exicted and emotional also. Our other two Sikh members (very secular all of us) stick to the principle of "sabhka malik ek" and "God Is One" and enjoyed the visit. (we all enjoy to visit the places of worship be it of any religion. We had great time at Nanded also earlier.)
B'ful colours at Grishneshwar temple

Parking : 20
No Mobiles Allowed
Need to remove upper body clothes to go inside.

Ellora Caves (Finally)
It was the time for a FB check-in. :)
We did hire an auto, actually not needed and saw the caves. Caves are really good and we all felt bliss. Kailas Temple is an epic built using Top-Down approach in over 200 years. We remembered the people who built it and paid salutes in our hearts.

Cave # 21

We also appreciated the great religious harmony that existed there. Buddhist, Hindu , Jain caves. great stuff.

Bibi Ka Maqbara

After this we were to go to "The Deccan's taj" aka "Bibi ka Maqbara". But, some said we should return now. I was very disappointed but somehow managed to negotiate and hoped that monument is good enough. The other 3 had not seen Taj, so I wanted them to see this at least. It was really worth-it!

On the way, we saw the great "Daultabad Fort". The city of Aurangabad is great as many religions have some great history there.

We enjoyed a lot at the monument. It's very well-built and comparable to the Taj. Surely, one of India's 7 wonders(if there's anything like that).

Baba was in full form and mood and we created a lot of videos featuring ourselves as Sukhbir Badal. :)
We really enjoyed there.

I wanted to visit "Panchaki" but had no negotiations left in me as it was getting late and we had a bad roads experience.

However, the road from Aurangabad to Pune was excellent and we covered distances very fast.
We reached Shani Shignapur in around 1.30 hrs and had a great darshan. :)
On the way back ate lunch at about 6pm at MTDC resort.
We were back by 9.30 pm.

The trip was fulfilling and rewarding with great bonding.
Travel does bring best and worst out of people. :)


  1. Duggal G, ur post again made me emotional ;) Each and every line/sentence enlightened me wid the glimpse of our complete tour. However I was expecting few more points like: I brought apple wid full possible negotiation... Fun during lunch @ Sher-e-Punjab for which I was huge exited....The guidance provided by auto driver during Ellora caves visit... Although most of the trolls were executed on me...But still just because of me only u guys enjoyed a lot ;) It was the best trip ever after our Nanded's trip...

  2. Sid Sir , you are the real G. :)
    It'll be fun to read after many years and will refresh us a lot. We should do trips more often. :)