‘Bulaawaa aya hai’ – This is often said about visits to holy places in India. What this means is that you never decide to visit spiritual sites, but you are called to it…
Something like this happened to me too. My sister and her family had come over, or in hindsight, I am quite sure it was the Almighty’s way of preparing us for a visit to seek the blessings of the Divine… Also meeting a dear friend Ratan and his wife Sharvari was long due.
So, as it happened, it was decided to visit Shirdi. This definitely wasn’t our first trip to Shirdi, but quick getaways like these are always welcome.
On reaching Nashik, we checked into Courtyard by Marriott Nashik.
After resting for some time, we set out to visit the first item on our itinerary – Nashik’s pride and India’s famous, Sula Vineyards.
The vineyard was lush green and the setting sun cast a light pink hue across the sky. Truly, a magnificent sight.
The majority of the latter half of the day was spent outdoors, extensively touring the vineyard and the property. We returned for dinner that was hosted at my friend’s place. My dear friend, his family and a few local friends had laid out a delicious spread. There was a mutton preparation, a prawn curry and other vegetarian preparations like khandvi, paatra and the dinner staple, rice.
I must admit, it feels great to be pampered occasionally and when it’s from your dear friend, the event becomes even more special.
After a hectic day and a fabulous feast, we were back to our hotel and retired to bed.
Next on our agenda was the visit to Shirdi Sai Baba Devasthan. We started for the temple visit first thing in the morning. The temple authorities gave me and my family a warm welcome. We attended the Madhyan Aarti. The authorities then showed us around the temple premises and also took us to a special room.
I was also escorted to the Prasadalaya, as the temple authorities wanted me to sample their Prasad and food and were keen to have my feedback on the same. I visited the various sections of the Prasadalaya, such as the storehouse, the main kitchen and the Annadaan Hall. Crates of prasad were lined up in the hall. I interacted with the Head of Kitchen, who gave me a round-up of the operations in the kitchen. I sampled the food and gave them my feedback.
I must admit that due hygiene standards were followed by the staff at the premises.
On our return journey from Shirdi, we stopped at Yeola, a taluka in Nashik famous for its Paithani sarees. Paithanis are a local traditional handloom weave. Alyona and my sister picked up some paithanis.
Courtyard by Marriott Nashik prepared a special fare for us. Besides their generous hospitality and delectable fare, we also had misal, and Maharashtra’s favorite street food, vada pav.
While in Nashik, next on our list was taking darshan at the Trimbakeshwar Jyotirling Mandir. The Shiva temple is among the 12 jyotirlingas in the country. We toured the ancient temple premises built by Peshwa Balaji Bajirao III on the site of an old temple.
Later, the main priest of the temple hosted us at his residence, where again we were treated to a sumptuous fare.
On our return from Trimbakeshwar, we stopped at Grape County in Anjaneri for a coffee break. The Grape County is a sprawling eco-resort, with amazing stay options.
We were now nearing the close of our Nashik trip. Another important item to tick off on our itinerary was paying a surprise visit to my aunt and cousin. On reaching their house, they were overjoyed to have us as it was long since we last met them. Lots of conversations followed and of course, food.
All in all, we had a wonderful time.