Thursday, October 11, 2007

Our journey northward and back - Part I

I am not a great traveler. Though I have my share of devotion towards God and my country and love for other countries, I prefer to sit on my armchair and read about them, rather than taking the trouble of actually visiting them. Shirdi, Nasik , the jyotirlingas, Shivneri fort - I had read about all of these places, but if not for my parents' coaxing, I do not think I would have budged from Bangalore. Finally, after two full months of planning, our trip to Maharashtra happened last week. R, Biyadiya and I, my parents, my brother and grandmother, and my sister's family formed the group of travelers (=pilgrims).

The first leg of our journey was by train. I love traveling by trains. For one and a half years, when I was working in Madras, I travelled by train almost every weekend. However, one big difference from those journeys to this one, was the length. Journey from Bangalore to Chennai takes about 7 hours. This journey took nearly twenty hours. While the Bangalore-Chennai journey does not interfere with one's bath and breakfast timings, this one definitely did. R and I did not want to eat before taking bath, but were forced to eat some food to sustain ourselves.

The closest little Biyadiya had ever been to a train other than Thomas, was when he had once waved at it from a distance of more than one hundred meters. The second we got into our seats, he stated wailing pitifully, asking to get off. I knew that there would be some resistance, as he had shown earlier that he disliked bus-travel also. But half an hour after the train started moving, R, my father and a policeman ("rona nahin!"), were successful in calming him down. He gradually took to the train so much, that he actually did not want to get off the train, when we reached Kopargaon!

I hail from Bellary, as I have said elsewhere. The vegetation in those parts of Karnataka is mainly the 'jaalimuLLu' plants. The fields are usually sown with chili and jowar. Now, I have not visited North Karnataka in quite a while, and it was really nice to see those same things again. My eyes feasted again on the stony hills and the black soil. Shirdi and the surrounding places are also what we can call 'bayaluseeme', unlike Pune and its surroundings, which is more like malenaaDu.

At Shirdi, The cleanliness of the premises and the discipline at the temple and at Bhaktanivas, which is the travelers' lodge, were very impressive. There are a few colorful fountains at the entrance to the temple. Both of us (my little one and I) were quite taken by them and spent a long time in front of them. Since elderly people are let in without adherence to the queue, with an escort, my Mother who was worried about Biyadiya, bade me go with my grandma and finish my darshan. It was a very rewarding experience.

For two full months, we had debated on whether we could take little Biyadiya for the trip. Finally, the Great Man at Shirdi made us take him. And we never regretted it once. The only problem for him was food. He is as picky an eater as I am, and sourcing food for us was R's biggest worry throughout. I did not find the idlis and dosas of Maharashtra palatable. Biyadiya agreed with me and went on a hunger strike. I had to then buy Cerelac for him, to keep his energy levels (and mine) up. However, Maharashtrians make Vada pav and Batata vada, which are tasty even when eaten at roadside stalls. I succumbed to those, and hunger pangs did not bother me a lot, afterwards. An interesting thing about the hotels there, was the 'upvaas' menu. I did not try it out at all, but was impressed to see that there was somebody paying enough attention to their upvaas, even while traveling.

This trip was the longest one we have undertaken in at least five years. Since I wish to do it justice, I will continue the travelogue in the next one or two installments.


Aram said...

Funny, same topic, same destination of travel in Nilagriva's blog.

The dates of your post, this one and some earlier ones too, appear to be incorrect.

I am reminded of my aunt whose passion was travelling. Every 6 months she would go to some place in India, escorted by my elder brother, sram. Twelve jyothirlingas, Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Dwarka to Guwahati. I was lucky to accompany them to Kedarnath and Badri where I saw the Vyasagufa where the Mahabharata was dictated and written, and the road through which Yudhishtira ascended to the Heaven, on the China border. ( China=heaven? Kailasaparbat is indeed in China, though the Valley of Flowers is not).

Once she finished Indian places, she started visiting the world.

Now both of us awaiting the final journey, destination unknown.

Decemebr Stud said...

Nice....we will look forward to reading more.

Madras andChennai in the same paragraph, huh? ;)

Bhel Puri & Seekh Kabab said...

Nice post. Vada pav and batata vada - what a combo. I still remember traveling by train from Bombay to Madras and eagerly looking forward to Karjat station, where the specialty is batata vada. They were the size of small ladoos, deep fried, and absolutely delicious. We would inhale about 10 of them before coming up for air.

Look forward to hearing more.


Anorexia Nervosa said...

@Bhelpuri and Seekh Kabab:
Obviously, food is your first love. Why not devote an exclusive post on this so that we too can salivate?

Bhel Puri & Seekh Kabab said...

@anon- food's a love, but not the only one, and definitely not the first. Will do.


parijata said...

Sorry for the delay in replying.
Funny, eh?
I corrected the dates. Thanks for pointing it out.
Your Aunt's passion reminded me of Naipaul's 'India: A Million Mutinies Now'. Naipaul travelled for a long time throughout the length and breadth of India, talking to people, and experiencing India in all its flavors. I want to do something like that too, but I don't know if I have the energy!

Thanks. Madras and Chennai - well, these things creep in, you know ;)

Thanks. Speaking of vadas in the railway station, have you tasted the vada at the Dharmavaram railway station? They serve them with unprocessed green chili. It is delicious.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Anonymous said...

More information about Chennai Hotels.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know if I have the energy!"

For a long time I had been meaning to ask you the secret of your seemingly inexhaustible energy!

Job, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, music studies and riyaz, reading, blogging, commenting, replying, and now travelling.....

You know there are non-working housewives who find it hard to manage just one husband and one child!

Suggested Reading:- On Form - Managing Energy, Not Time, Is The Key To High Performance, Health, Happiness, (and Life Balance). Authors: Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Review at

parijata said...

@Anonymous #1,
Thanks for the information.

@Anonymous #2,
Come on, it is not a great feat at all.. I am sure there are many women who do all this and more.

The book seems very interesting. I will check that out soon.

Aram said...

have the book here. if you can't find it anywhere, will be happy to scan and send. will need to get a scanner first, though!

Sending for purely selfish reasons - want to read more and more of your creative output and possibly help make an inveterate traveller.

-- Anon #2

shark said...

me too planning for a trip to shirdi in the near future.
Any tips?
Any particular good darshan timings? Actually any info will be helpful :)

I have been there once, but that time we just went at some time and came back.
Want to do more this time :)

parijata said...

I thought that it was you! Thanks for the offer. I will ask you for help if I cannot find the book.

Welcome to my blog.
If you take the KK Express, you will reach Kopargaon by about 2 O clock. Bhakta Nivas is the best place to stay in Shirdi. But they have a queue system, and it will be at least five or six hours before you can get a room. So, it will be easier on you if you can book a room in another hotel for bathing, etc.

About the darshan - if you want to attend the aarti, you will have to start in the queue about two hours before the aarti schedule. Visit the Sai Baba sansthan's website for aarti timings. If you just want to finish the darshan soon, then you can start as soon as the aarti is over; the queue will not be as long at that time.

And as with visits to any other place, weekdays and non-holidays are much better. Bhakta Nivas rents rooms for forty-eight hours. So you can roam around in Shirdi for a day, and for the next day, you can visit nearby places - we did Shani Shinganapur, Ghrishneshwar and Ellora.

And another thing - to get reservations on KK Express, it is *necessary* that you reserve your tickets as soon as the bookings start (two months before the travel dates). This can be done online too, so it is pretty easy.

Toodle-oo for now, then.

Aram said...

"Funny, eh?"

I didn't know Nilagriva and you were related.

If I said this in DS' blog, he would tell me that I am acting quite innocent. :)

parijata said...

Yes, we are related.

Aram said...

"Yes, we are related." -:)

Aram said...

""I don't know if I have the energy!"

Excerpt of an article in Harvard Business Review (Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time - by Tony Schwartz)

can be read here (