Chennai to Shirdi by flight

There are many tour packages that are available for pilgrimages to various places by flight , by train and by bus.  For Shirdi there are packages operated by IRCTC.  Though we tried our best the dates did not match so we opted for a private tour package operator.

All of them charge between Rs.9500 and Rs.10500 approximately depending upon the flight charges for economy class flights that are slightly variable.

Of course we can have our own custom packages but it is always nice to travel with families that are strangers some of who become our friends during the pilgrimage.

The packages are usually for Wednesday and Thursday or Saturday and Sunday.  Thursday is very important and holy for Shirdi and Saturday, Sunday are weekends.  So there will be heavy rush .
If we want to avoid the crowd we can opt for custom packages on other week days.
To add to the week end factor we went on the 1st of January so we can imagine the crowd that would have been present, lakhs and lakhs of pilgrims were there.

The flights chosen are early in the morning at 5.30 am for departure and 11.30 pm for return - Chennai to Pune and Pune to Chennai respectively.  The advantage is that more time is available and the fares are also cheap.   At Pune our tour operator arranged a bus for all of us ( around 30 ) .  The bus took us to a restaurant .  Incidentally the package does not include breakfast , lunch or dinner .
We are pleasantly surprised to get good quality and hot idly, dosa and coffee in a small restaurant and it was actually very cheap too when we compare with Chennai restaurants.

From there we went to Shirdi by bus , as I said already it was first of January and there was very heavy rush.  We tried for Rs.200 tickets but the counter was closed due to heavy rush.  So all of us went to the Dharma Darshan and waited for a few hours in the queue.  Hot tea was served in the queue by the temple authorities at one point and we were so thankful because we were hungry.

Near the sannidhi a miracle happened , He is known to perform miracles.  The security guards weere pushing everyone out after darshan , when my husband, my daughter and I came near the sannidhi , we tried to move away ( there were dozens of pilgrims around us ) , the security guard pulled my husband inside and said "wait, why are you in a hurry !"  .  Then the priest offered a shawl that was on Sai Baba to my husband and to me he gave a bouquet as prasadam.  We were overwhelmed and overjoyed.

We came out and had dinner at one of the restaurants near the temple.  The next day the bus started and the guide requested all of us sing devotional songs.  Our first stop was Shingnapur  and the next stop was Renuka Devi temple.  Renuka Devi temple is also called the Glass temple as it is decorated with glass.  The Moola Vigraha is a swayambu and for darshan we have to go down a flight of stairs to the basement.

  Then we went Rajangaon Ganpati temple near Pune.  We were surprised to get organic fruits at just Rs.50 per kg ( They are simple people there leading a simple and peaceful life ) while organic fruits are sold at Rs.200 to Rs.300 kg in Chennai.  The temple arch is very beautiful and the temple itself is very beautiful and so is the Garbha Graha .

Few years back, we as a family went to Shirdi from Nagpur ( where my sister lives , her family also came with us ) .  From Nagpur we went to Manmad by train and from Manmad we went to Shirdi by a private taxi.
On the way we were fortunate to have the darshan of Parvari Baba as he is called there. It is very rare and difficult to have his darshan the locals say.

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