Finally "Sai" called me to visit him at "Shirdi". It was an overnight journey from Hyderabad to Shirdi by Bus. We do have train, not upto Shirdi but near by station
1. Kopargaon (16km from Shirdi)
2. Manmad (60km from Shirdi).
Bus was convenient and made to Shirdi on time early morning 7AM. The first and the foremost thing, its hard to get accommodation if you are single. Most of the hotels wont be allowing any reservation for single person (Male) as this city has faced plenty of crimes within hotels and thus Police has made it as a precautionary measure. Those (only few) lodges who do provide does so by verifying your identity and also by making a phone call back to your home. So if you are visiting alone to Shirdi do keep some sort of identification document.
If its not any festive day or Thursday then you can finish the darshan in an hour or two else it would usually take around 3-4 hours. The Shirdi sansthan provides clock room (for shoes, mobile and luggage) where you can park your luggage thus If you planning not to stay here and move on then best thing is to put your stuff in clock room. Shopkeepers also provides luggage and shoe keeping but in turn they expect you to buy some stuff from them (you don't need to find them, they will find you easily). For taking bath etc lodges do provide that facility with meager fee of Rs 30-50 per 30min. I opted for 30min lodge usuage, put my luggage and shoe at one shop (and offcourse end up purchasing stuffs worth Rs 100) and headed for Darshan.
Thursday is Baba's day so expect heavy rush on this day and yes PHOTOGRAPY AND MOBILE NOT ALLOWED so i put both of them in the clock room (all is near the temple only at walking distance with fee Rs 1 or 2). The whole temple premises is bordered by around 10-12 feet wall and has 2 entrance gates (they are numbered, the market and the clock rooms are near Gate#4 and I went through this gate, see the pic on right).
It wasn't that much rush on Friday so I got inside to the Baba's Samadhi(where Sai Baba's body is buried) in 30-40mins or so. The queue line passes through one big hall which is partitioned to form 8-10 queues. Within the partitioned lines they have several benches for to take rest and a tea shop within the hall, few wall mounted tv telecasting live happenings of Samadhi area.
After 40 min the moment finally arrived when I had first view of Sai Baba. The view was breathtaking, Sai idol is made out of marble (complete white) and is of life size. The facial carve is almost realistic and would stun you for a moment. The marble statue is prepared by sculptor Sri Talini of Bombay was installed by the side of the Samadhi in 1954. The hall is big where the Samadhi is placed (on side is the life size Idol) and is having 4 lines to form queue two on each side of the hall, the right/left most queue doesn't leads you in front of Sai Idol but to the exit door passing by Samadhi by side. You can touch and bow to Samadhi and offer your prayers. Samadhi stage is usually occupied by four priest two on each side of the Idol. If you want to bow from the front of the Idol then be sure not to opt for left/right most queue instead chose the inner one.
This was the Samadhi mandir where Sai took his last breadth and is now lying in peace. This place was earlier called as "Buty Wada" and later this temple was built on top of it. Outside this within Temple premises there are other notable areas where Sai has spent his time. One such area is a "Gurusthan" which he usually calls as "Mere guru ka sthaan" (My master's place). Few meter away is 3 small single structure temple of Lord Ganesha, Shiva and Shani, all side by side with an opening from inside connecting all 3 temples i.e. you can pass through all three from inside.
A mosque "Dwarika Mai" where Sai used to sit most of the day and the stone on which he used to sit is still preserved here. The first pic is of the same. "Chavdi" just outside the temple premise and adjacent to Dwarika where Sai used to rest every alternative day (see pic on left)
Premises has SBI ATM, book shop, museum where articles, clothes and shoes are still preserved which was once used by Sai. One of the photo dipicts a sculpture who was carving the Sai Idol the same which is in Samadhi. It also has sweet shops, book store (3D calendar of Sai is quite impressive and has costed Rs 300 the same cost at Rs 350 outside the temple).
After completing the Darshan, I looked for an lodge, got one just near the temple "Hotel Sai Suraj" for Rs 350 single bed.This hotel is in front of Chavdi. They did verify my identity and called my home, well the hotel is not up-to the expectation but can't complain as well, don't expect even above average amenities with this much of budget. If you are with family then better search near bus stand across the road where there are plenty of decent hotels, expect around 1k-1.3k.
Sai trust also has some lodgings, check out this site hotels running by trust (http://www.shrisaibabasansthan.org/main_English/shirdi/accommodation.asp).
I offloaded my luggage in room and after few minutes I headed for Shani Shignapur, it is just 2hour drive and we have plenty of Qualis/Maruti Omni riders near the temple area. You can hear drivers shouting for "Shani Shignapur". They usually charge Rs 60-70 per head for a complete trip. See my "Shani Shignapur" blog entry for further details.
This one is copied from the web
There are plenty of things to know about Sai and Shirdi, please visit the following blog from an ardent devotee of Sai. This blog has wealth of Sai information and original pics of Sai.