Monday, April 17, 2006

Shirdi Travel Diary

Shirdi Travel Diary (13/04/06 to 16/04/06)
Sunil, Anil annayya, Aunty (Sunil's mother), viji annayya
and myself had planned for a trip to Shirdi and finally we
made it.

I boarded the Manmad (Secunderabad to Manmad) express at Begumpet station, on
which Sunil and Aunty were also there. They came from vizag to hyderabad today

Got down at Nagersol (which is around 2 hrs from Shirdi) at 7.30 in the
morning. On-board the train we befriended another two telugu familiies who told
us all about what are the formal procedures to get the darshan, where to stay
and what all places to visit near by. From Nagersol we all took an omni (these
are quite popular here, most of them fitted with LPG cylinders, I guess it
makes them quite economical) and reached Shirdi. Went to Bhakt Nivas (the
trust-owned hostel for the piligrims) and found that it would be difficult to
get a room there, as this was a long weekend and so the no. of piligrims who had
come was large. So booked a room in one of the private lodges. Shirdi is
a small place (in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra), rather it's a village
in-transition. As it is evident that a period of transition is turbulent, same
is the case over here. Probably in another 3-5 years it will be as good as
Tirupati, but you cant beat the climate thing.
Refreshed ourselves and went to Baba's temple for the Darshan. Owing to the
big rush we had to wait for 2 and 1/2 hours to get the darshan. Returned to
our lodge-room, and Anil annayya and Viji annayya dropped dropped in. They
were coming from B'lore. They both went for the darshan and they were lucky
to get it in no time. All of us then took an Omni and went to Shani Shingnapur
(a place where the temple of Shani (god) is located, 75 km from Shirdi). Did
some drama there and came without doing the usual formalities as the people
there were trying to take us for a ride. Came back and collapsed on our beds
in the lodge room.

Today was an eventful day as we embarked on our trip to Aurangabad, which
is around 150 km from shirdi. Took an Omni at 8 in the morning from Shirdi.
On the way we visited the hanuman temple near Ellora and also another shiva
temple which had one of the 12 jyotirlingas. We then headed to Ellora Caves:
the best part of the entire trip. It was amazing how they carved out huge
mountains into caves and temples. There were 34 caves in total and we didnt
have enough time to see all of them. The caves were built between 5th and
11th century AD and it was evident as some of the carvings had withered out.
On the way had a cursory look of the state of the farming community in
Maharashtra and the general atmosphere. Farms were very big compared to the
same in my home place. Grapes,Sugarcane,Onion and cotton were the major crops.
The look of the houses indicated that the farmers were not really well-off
but then most of them ( I guess almost all the families) had bikes, (I could
spot lot of Rajdoots and could hardly find a scooter). Further there were
DTH antennas atop houses. Elder people had to wear Topis, dhoti and kurtas
all in whites. Marathi uses the same script as Hindi (Devanagari) and can
be quite easily understood if you know Hindi. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is quite a
popular figure over here and all the parties exploit his image by having
the picture of this great Indian along with their party leaders on the
From there we went to Aurangabad, where the Bibi-ka-Makbara is located. It's
a look-alike of Taj Mahal. Aurangzeb used to shift his capital from
Delhi to Aurangabad. On the way saw the Daulatbad fort from the vehicle.
Would have been nice if we had explored it, but it was not part of the
itinerary. Also saw an 18th century engineering work called the "PanChakki" a
water mill which still works. The water is routed through canals to this place (
covering a distance of 6km) and it is siphoned up creating a waterfall at
this place and the same water rotates the turbine of the mill. Enroute we saw
big mountains which looked like those in Grand Canyon. I was wondering that
these would be ideal for rock-climbing.
It was 7 in the evening by the time we reached Shirdi. Strolled along the
temple and market and did some shopping and retired in our room.

Got up at 5.30 in the morning as we had to visit Nasik and from there to
Manmad and catch the train back to Secunderabad. Anil annayya and Viji Annayya
left at 6 to catch the bus to Pune as they had to be in Bangalore the next
day. After vacating the room, we boarded a bus to Nasik. Nasik is considerably
big city. Nasik is quite famous for its onions and we could see big onion
fields on the way. Sugarcane was another major crop for Marathi farmers. All
along the route there were grape farms and we could see plenty of grape clusters.
Bought and had enough seedless grapes as they were pretty cheap.
By 10 we were in the Nasik bus station. From there caught a Maharastra
RTC bus (red bus) to Triumbakeswar (30 km from Nasik). The temple of the three
gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is quite a famous one and an important place to
visit in Nasik. There was a big queue at the temple and we had little time
so we did not venture in to stand in the queue and wait for the darshan of the
idols. Instead we just appreciated the beauty of the temple from outside. The
temple is very good, particularly the way the pillars were carved out, showed
the calibre of the artists and mostly it was still intact. Also Triumbakeswar
is the birth-place of Godavari, went there but didn't have much to see except
for a pool of water and people bathing in it.
We immediately caught the bus to Manmad at the new Nasik bus station at 1 PM.
By 3.30 PM were in Manmad. Manmad is a very old town: the pitiable state of
the bus station reflected this fact. Our train was to leave Manmad at 5.30.
After having lunch at one of the hotels went to the station and boarded the
Manmad express there.

It was 9 by the time we (Sunil, Aunty and myself) alighted at the Begumpet
railway station. There ended our 3-day trip to Shirdi. In all I had visited
the 3 districts : Ahmednagar, Nashik and Aurangabad. Except for the trip to
Nasik in which most of our time went into the journey everything else was
good. Elloras were amazing and surely the best part of the trip.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ruthless Life

I knew that life could be as ruthless as this, but never saw it through my
eyes. Recently I met the mother of one of my friends and realized how tough
it could be. She had been on the bed for close to two years and for these
two years she could not move any of her body parts, except for opening the
mouth, slight movement of the neck and eyelids. It's a very difficult situation
where you can see, listen and probably understand what others are doing/saying,
you want to reply or do something but you cannot. With difficulty I could
control myself from shedding tears. I can only imagine how traumatic it would
be to go through such a hellish situation.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

GMR Group

It gives me a sense of pride watching the television commercial of GMR
(which is into Energy and construction (airports and roads)).
This is the group which has roots in my own district Srikakulam and around
20 km from my village. It makes me think about the amount of oppurtunities
(in terms of employment) generated. I have great regard for industrialists,
because they are the one who generate wealth, employment, pay taxes
(directly and/or through their employees) to the government and this is what
the public servants/politicians feed on.
There's a sugar factory, because of which I guess sugar cultivation in the
region would have taken a big leap ( I dont have concrete proof of this, but
certainly it would have given a fillip) . This GMR group has also built a
state-of-the art engineering college in my home-town making higher-education
accessible to students residing in smaller towns and villages. (Ofcourse,
there are other socio-economic reasons why these educational institutions
are not able to create an impact).
I have all the reasons to hail these people whatever be the actual intent
behind doing all this be as long as significant no. of people are benefited
because of this.