Travelogue: Ganapati and Sai baba Darshan @ Shirgaon
Every time I was on the Pune Mumbai Expressway, I would notice the huge Ganesha Idol and make a point in mind to visit it, but such points don’t always convert to reality easily. Finally last weekend, for lack of anything else to do and after a failed attempt to find ourselves a place to stay at any hotel/resort for a night, we decided to revisit open points in our todo list and picked the Ganesh temple.
It is a short drive from my home, given that I am close to Hinjewadi, Pune, so I was quickly only to the express way by-pass and the passed the expressway and went on ahead to join old Pune Mumbai highway (NH4). The idol pretty big and hence there is no way you can miss it, but even then you need not worry till you hit the toll plaza near Shirgaon. You need to cross the toll plaza. I wonder if that was intentional to have made the toll plaza just before Shirgaon? Anyway a return toll is for Rs. 39 and having paid this we crossed the toll plaza and took the immediate left.
The road here is pretty narrow and not well laid out so be prepared for a bit of bumps. At this time you would be able to see the Ganesha idol on your left on a small hill. To reach the base is a bit tricky as like all other places, there are no clear direction markings. Leave the first left (which is almost like a by-lane) and take the second one. It should have a board there calling out Mangal Murti Morya temple. This lane isn’t big by any standards, and if you happen to get in at the same time someone is trying to come out, you may have to practice your car maneuvering skills. A short drive of about 50 m in the lane and you come to parking spot. The spot isn’t very big and they charge Rs 10 for the parking.
From here you start to climb up towards the idol. I ended up counting 161 steps to the top. There is ample sitting provision on to the top so you need not exert yourself and can easily pause and park yourself on the way.
Once at the top, the size of the idol really hits you. It is huge.
Good part is that the place is very clean and very well maintained. The place opens up around 6.00 am and is open till around 9 pm with no break during the day, so you can visit anytime. Since the base is all stone, depending on the season and time of the day, you may end up dancing your way around due to hot stones. We were there on a pleasant evening, so there were no such issues.
We did a parikrama, stood there for a while and then continued on our way to the Sai Baba temple, which is a replica of Shirdi Sai Baba temple. Parking here is again Rs 10. If are at the time of the Aarti you can get the prasad or else you purchase at the various counters. You can sit and enjoy the Prasad at the dining hall besides the temple, which is an intricately carved structure and looks nothing less than some palace. Don’t forget to take the coupon as the entry to the hall is restricted to coupon holders only. We didn’t go in here as it was getting late.
On the way back we came till the crossing of NH4 and the Pune by pass (joining to the expressway and also going all the way to Katraj and Bangalore highway) and took a right to go towards Hinjewadi. Again surprisingly there are no sigh boards highlighting this very important turn. If you are new, drive a bit carefully as if you miss this crossing, you will end up going all the way to main Pune City, which not be what you want to do.