Shirdi – Saturday Morning: Reached Shirdi at 8 am, our plan was simple – get a lodge, fresh up and visit the temple. I searched Goibibo.com for lodges and booked a decent room for three at 1000 Rs. (which I got for 500 Rs in goibibo discount). We got ready and headed for Darshan at 10.30 am. No one had any idea where is the temple entrance gate then we saw a big ENTRANCE board. While we were on the way to the entrance gate, a local shopkeeper trapped us and told us there is a special way for darshana where we could catch the glimps of Sai Baba in just 30 minutes. We believed him like fools, he offered to keep footwares and mobiles but the catch was to buy puja thali from him. He changed insane 250 Rs per puja thali and we bought one each :(. Then the shopkeeper dropped us infront of the same ENTRANCE gate we saw at the very begginig. We realized that we had been cheated.
Temple Premises: We joined the slow moving queue line at 11.30 am. After half an hour Arati to Sai Baba started so the queue was freezed for almost 1 hour. There are wall mounted TV telecasting live happenings of Samadhi area. The queue was moving smooth, by 2 O’clk we enetered the temple core where Sai Baba’s Samadhi and his idol is present. The interiors were astonishing with a touch of old heritage. Finally we got first glimps of Said Baba, life sized white marble idol was ready to amaze us. The facial carve is almost realistic and would stun you for a moment. Hats of to sculptor Sri Talini of Bombay who created such beautiful idol of Said Baba. Idol is places on side of Baba’s Samadhi. Its the place where Sai took his last breath and is now lying in piece. Spent some peaceful time in temple premises.
|Samadhi Mandir: Baba’s life size idol and his Samadhi
We did a little shopping and had good lunch at North indian restuant – Mukta Food court near Temple. Our plan for the day was accomplished by 4.30 pm, we still had time but no plan. A driver was shouting “Shani Shignapur”, as its just 70 kms we decided to visit Shani Shignapur. He charged reliable price (150 Rs/head) for the round trip. It took 4 hours for round trip.
Shani Singanapur: We reached Shani Singanapur at 6.30 in the evening. As soon as we entered the village I was very curious to see doorless houses and shops. And yes there were exactly how I had imagined them. The transporters have dealing with the shopkeepers and always park their vehicle on their parking area. As soon as we got down a shopkeeper greeted us, this time we didn’t wanted to be fooled so we said “Sorry, We don’t want to buy anything”. Some how shopkeeper convinced us to listen to rituals buying is optional. Ritual says, men if they want to pay obeisance to the deity then they need to be topless and wear orange lungi (though lungi is not mandatory now), womens are not allowed to step on the diety platform they can offer prayers from distance. He gave us a puja thali and charged insane 250 Rs. We tried to escape but with his business tactics he convinced us to buy one.
|Sugarcane juice on the way
|Shani dev, the bloack stone
|Arati to the deity by the preist
|The jeep we travelled on
As soon as we entered the temple, we saw hundrends of people gathered around this black miracle stone worshipped as deity Shani. Since Arati to deity was going on no one was allowed to step on the platform except preist. Witnessing evening Arati was experience of a life time. Black stone annoited in oil was shining like gold when flames of arati was reflecting through. Presence of this God was felt immense at this place as compared to other temples in India for the same deity.
Returned to our lodge at Shirdi. We had one complete day left as two of our main agendas were accomplished, we decided to visit Ellora caves next day and return to Ilkal.
Sunday Morning: We checked out at 9.30 am, we were clueless about how to reach the Ellora caves so we asked shop keeper at a tea stall about the same. He said there are one day packages available which covers around 6 places and costs 250/head which was resonable for us. We boarded Tempo traveller which was already occupied by 10 other copassangers. Left Shirdi at 10.30 am. Driver said he will drop us at aurangabad at 5 pm, plenty of buses are available from Aurangabad to Solapur.
We reached the first destination Grushneshwar Jyotirlinga at 11.30 am. We had no idea about this place unless we visited. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. Grishneshwar is believed as the Last or 12th (twelfth) Jyotirlinga on the earth. This pilgrimage site is located at a village called Verul which lies at a close proximity to the Ellora caves. Temple was beautiful ancient temple. No camera/mobile was allowed inside. After having a nice darshana of lord Shiva we boarded TT. The driver took our number to call if we are late, we gave Chandu’s number (which was a bad idea). He had allocated approx 30 mins at each point to maintain time. He would take us 3 major caves numbered 29, 16 and 34. We were clueless about any numbers as you are now 😛 but were excited to witness one of the oldest temple preserved which most of us read only in books.
Cave No 29 – Dumar Lena: This cave represent Hinduism which was excavated during 650 to 900 A.D. The halls are adorned with six huge sculptural panels depicting various episodes connected with Lord Siva. The caves are best preserved, hats off to UNESCO and Maharastra govt for their outstanding work. We were deeply lost in exploring caves and capturing moments when we heard driver honking horn singanling us to come back.
Cave No 32 – Indra Sabha: The next one we visited was cave 32, which is located about 1km from cave 29. This cave is double storeyed dedicated to Digambar sect of Jainism, dating back to 10th – 11th century A.D. Two storeys in height and extremely rich in decoration.
The caves 33, 34 and 31 are lined up along with 32, whereas cave 30 is an unfinished excavation located a distance apart from the rest of the Jain caves, which is also known as mini Kailasa due to its resemblance with the Kailasa Cave 16.
|(from left to right) Cave No. 34, 33 and 32
Cave No 16 – Kailasa Temple: It is the largest monolithic excavation in the world. A must visit once in a life time to witness the massiveness and extent of rock carving. If you don’t have enough time to visit Ellora and want to have a glance then don’t miss out kailasa temple numbered as cave 16.
The cave entrance is decorated with beautiful garden unlike any other caves we saw. As we entered through the gopura entrance we were fascinated with the imagination of the architect who designed this colossal wonder.
The Great Kailasa is dedicated to Lord Shiva, consisting of majorly Shiva sculptures.
|Beautiful garden outside the Cave No 16
|Entrace to Cave No. 16
|River goddess shrine (lower level) with incomplete shrine on top level
|River Goddess Shrine
|Double Storyed Kailas Temple
The main temple was called as Rang-Mahal (Painted palace) because after its completion, the temple was plastered and painted. This is the only temple we saw where lord Shiva is still worshipped
We saw the main temple where lord shiva is still worshipped. This place has a lot of architectural importance.
|Garbhagriha of the main Kailasha temple – second floor
|Long Verandah’s surrounding the main shrine,
all excavated from the same rock
The Great Kailasa temple will blow your mind with its complex excavations which is beyond imagination, and with full of curiosity of the amazing craftsmanship behind this masterpiece. Hats-off to the master architect who designed this and to the ones who made it reality.
What the F*ck: We were lost in the beauty of this amazing architecture, we had forgot to look at the clock. Though only 30 minutes was given for sight seeing we had spend 50 minutes at this place. We rushed to the parking area searching for our cab but we were unable to find it. Neither we knew vehicle number nor Driver’s phone number. We then realized we had given him Chandu’s number, unfortunately his mobile was in Flight mode. Driver must have tried the number and left off. It was our mistake we spent extra time at cave and even our phone was in flight mode. As soon as Chandu turned on the mobile Diver’s call came and he informed that he has stopped for lunch around 5kms far. So we hired an auto to drop us at the daba. Other copassangers were having lunch at daba, as soon as we ented everyone gave a big smile.
Shri Bhadra Maruti Mandir: The temple is just four Kms from the Ellora caves. The Lord of this temple Sri Hanuman is known as Sri Bhadra Maruti. This murthi is one of the few Maruti murthis to be found in a reclined posture. The unique posture with which Sri Hanumanji is seen here has an interesting episode, behind it.
|Shri Bhadra Maruti Mandir
|Hanuman in reclined posture
After hanuman’s darshana we headed to the last destination of the day Aurangabad – bibi ka maqbara also know as mini tajmahal.
Aurangabad: Reached aurangabad at 4.30 pm, we planned to catch bus to Ilkal from here so we made the final settlement with the driver and we were free birds now with no timing restrictions anymore.
Bibi ka Maqbara a.k.a Taj of Deccan: The Bibi Ka Maqbara was built by Azam Shah, the oldest son of Aurangzeb. This was his attempt to rival the Taj Mahal built by his grandfather, albeit in memory of his mother, Rabia Durrani, the first wife of Aurangzeb. Unfortunately, he lacked the treasury his grandfather had access to, as well as the skilled labour the treasury bought. Today, the Bibi Ka Maqbara is simply a replica of the Tajmahal of Agra. Construction of the Taj Mahal was completed in 1653, while the Bibi Ka Maqbara was built sometime between 1651 and 1661. It is said that while the Taj Mahal was built at a cost of approximately 32 million rupees, the amount allocated to Azam Shah for the Bibi Ka Maqbara was a paltry 7 lakhs!
As we ented the big gates we could see the giant building standing tall in the love of Azam Shah’s mother. Though I have not seen Tajmahal but I could say this isn’t as good as Tajmahal but the architecture is very similar to Taj. We ented the gori, Aurangzeb’s wife was resting in piece there. Gori is beautifully decorated, I never knew death could be so beautiful.
|Taj of Deccan
|Auranjeb wife’s Gori
Had a look at the surroundings, spent some time at the garden, well-maintained place was worth seeing. We had to catch the bus to Ilkal so we left at 5.30 pm. 550 km to Ilkal from here. The route was Aurangabad -> Solapur -> Bijapur -> Ilkal. So I asked autowala to take us to bus stand.
The crazy journey: There were no buses for Solapur from main bus stand, there was a KSRTC bus to Bijapur scheduled at 10 pm. It was just 6.30 pm so we didn’t want to wait so long as we could cover a lot of distance in that time. A shopkeeper told us that we are more likely to get buses to Solapur from “” bus stand. We hired a shared auto to reach the ” ” bus stop. When I enquired for Solapur busman on inquiry section said the bus is at 8.30 pm, he suggested us to take the Tuljapur bus as Solapur is just an hour journey from there and we get a lot of buses. We boarded on to this super luxury cranky, dirty bus and the bus which left at 7 pm.
Well, we had got the bus to Tuljapur, half of the journey would be accomplished. The road condition is better as compared to the one we came. By 9 pm we all were feeling hungry so we asked the conductor if he will stop for lunch he said yes. After waiting anxiously bus stopped at a daba at 1 am. seriously?? Since the bus started driver didn’t even stop for tea or snacks, finally he stopped for dinner at 1 o’clock. Though its time only ghosts and crazy drivers eat we didn’t have any other choice but to fill our stomach. We were cursing the driver like anything, though we appreciated his dedication towards the duty as he didn’t waste even a single minute just to make sure all passengers reach there home on time. Finally, we reached Kolhapur at 2 am. Within 5 minutes a paper van came so just hopped on to it as we didn’t want to waste much time. We reached Solapur at 3.30 am. A KSRTC bus came “Aurangabad-Bijapur-Raichur”.
The thrill: We asked conductor what time bus had left from Aurangabad? he replied “10.30 pm”. F*CK!! The same distance which we covered in 9 hours was covered by this bus in 6 hours, we asked what time he stopped for lunch he said 11, and he stopped twice for tea too. After we told our story of the journey even conductor felt pity for us. We reached Bijapur within 2.30 hours, from Bijapur we got bus till Ilkal. Finally reached Ilkal at 9 am. 14 hours of the journey had killed like anything. I had to leave for Bangalore on the same night.
Overall the trip was awesome, got blessings from Shirdi Sai Baba and got a chance to explore the ancient caves of Ellora.
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