Updated February 2017 Jai Gajanan......
This post is an advisory on how to fully experience Shegaon and come closer to Gajanan Maharaj. (Note: Bhakti, Travel, Darshan are all subjective, to each his own as they say) My family has been travelling to Shegaon since 1977, I was blessed to be born into a Gajanan Maharaj parivar in 1991. I love listening to stories from ajji, ajoba, mamma on how the holy town has changed over the past 40 years.
You can make a few changes as per your schedule but you would love if you follow this - My effort is to gather all information from my family sources and compile them for you.
1. Travel by Train-- it is convenient, cheap, comfortable and effective. Sansthan buses, Tonga Rickshaws Or normal Rickshaws are available 24/7 to pick you up from the train station (even at odd hours). If you don't manage to get any of these (which will never happen) you can walk to the Bhakta Nivas. Sansthan Buses are absolutely FREE but you have to wait until it is full (so not advisable in the morning because we need to rush on the (Abhishek hours), Tonga Rickshaws cost about 20/- to 25/- and Normal rickshaws 35/-. (Note: The rates mentioned here are liberal you can negotiate-- try and do that.)
2. Trains from Mumbai and Pune (Pune-Nagpur Express, Azad Hind Express, Howrah Mail, Sewagram Express, and Vidharba Express) usually all (except Maharashtra and Geetanjali Express) reach in the early morning wee hours at Shegaon which is an advantage for reaching on time for Kakad aarti and Abhishek.
3. Try going on an odd day such as Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday when you will have less rush at Shegaon and can receive a peaceful darshan.
4. DO NOT pay attention I repeat DO NOT to the men outside the main gate of the Bhakta Nivas; they will try and convince you of lodging outside of Bhakta Nivas- NEVER try to, always check with the Bhakta Nivas (all the money goes to the Sanstha and is a great way to help) plus subsidized rates and cleanliness at its best. Rates are EXHORBITANT in the hotels outside Bhakta Nivas!
5. As money is not the top priority for the Sansthan- rates are subsidized (e.g. Mineral Water 8/-) at the Bhakta Nivas with good facilities and cleanliness the top priority; you will find large coolers in the rooms, big clean restrooms and clean, crisp linen on double beds. They are well equipped and a great way to have a peace of mind. (Note: You will have to pay a deposit of 500/- (which may have changed now) at the counter while booking a room, prefer bhakta nivas 5 always - it is the best of the lot; Rates differ accordingly)
6. Hotels outside as said earlier are too expensive with an Air Conditioning Facility which you don't need if you have a 7 ft cooler, small, congested rooms a TV set and a Bathroom with attached toilet. Rates vary from 700/- to 1800/- (increased on business days and as per their convenience).
7. Rush to the temple as soon as you get done with your bath and chores in the morning - be quick and do not be lazy! Do not waste time- reach the temple as early as possible and the first thing you must do is have a receipt printed of 51/-, 101/- or 151/- at the DENGI counter inside the temple for your Abhishek. (Note: The Abhishek timings are 5:30 to 7:30 in the morning and so you have to hurry. DO NOT GIVE ANY MONEY TO THE PUJARI THERE HE IS BEEN PAID BY THE SANSTHA AND WE DO NOT NEED TO SPLURGE AT THE WRONG PLACE, IT IS VIOLATING THE RULES OF THE SANSTHA.)
8. After having the abhishek done of maharaj’s paduka head for samadhi darshan, usually there is no rush in the morning except for Thursdays and Sundays you may go straight in the Gabara if there are limited number of devotees.
9. Be calm and do not rush! You are in Maharaj’s safe hands, no need to worry you are in your life’s happiest, joyful and complete moment- Enjoy the experience and thank maharaj! The devotion, the fragrance of the flowers, the gana gana ganaat bote japp, ghoshna are out of this world! Note:(You can bring home-cooked modaks (fried), Chitale's Pedhe, or any Prasad for Maharaj, Mamma usually takes modaks which Maharaj loves- the pujari will keep it on Maharaj's padukas and give it back to you) I have seen people cry in front of maharaj (Happy Tears probably)!!!
10. After you are done with the darshan and you head out you will be guided to the Ram Temple and then Hanuman temple and then out. (Note: Remember to taste and apply the ANGARA near the Hanuman Temple! I did not see it there the last time I visited, you can have the anagara where the dhuni is next to the Gadi.)
11. You may start your Pradakshinas if you want now……
12. After Pradkshinas (atleast 5) if possible you may go to the dengi counter and donate money for ANNADAN, IMARAT NIDHI, ANAND SAGAR, etc….. (Prefer Annadan)
13. By now it would be 10:30 or so be ready for the AARTI the elephants would be on their way…. The aarti goes on for about half and hour…. You can observe all the swayamsevaks, dengi counter officials and all of the temple staff bowing to maharaj after the aarti.
14. The Mahaprasad begins after the Aarti, there is a different queue for the mahaprasad and usually takes ½ hour in the queue depending on the rush, I request all of you reading this-- (PLEASE DO NOT SKIP THE MAHAPRASAD AND HAVE LUNCH OUTSIDE- NOT ADVISABLE) there is a different taste, a different delicacy in the food maharaj has had- you will be full after you have had the Mahaprasad, so you may rest now (you will start feeling the heat of sheagon by now( the temperature rises by this time).
15. The keys of the Bhakta nivas room will be with you, you may submit it at the counter if you wish either or whichever you are comfortable with and take a peaceful nap at the room for about an hour.
16. Very IMPORTANT: If you are planning to stay overnight then after your nap is over and have had a cup of tea at the restaurant on the ground floor of Bhakta Nivas 5 you may visit ANAND SAGAR!!!
17. If you are planning to leave Shegaon at about 4 the same day ( as I usually do, lots of time and convenient if you go regularly go to shegaon) there are trains available 4:40 is Maharashtra Express, 17:55 AZAD HIND EXPRESS, Howrah Mail at 19:20….(re-check with indiarailinfo.com) for the timings and more trains.
18. Plan your journey--- tickets are usually available for this route but still check with various sites available.
19. Devotees who are staying overnight may visit Anand Sagar (Sansthan Buses Free Rickshaw 50/-) in the Evening where you will spend time in a jiffy! (If you have paid for annadan at the Mandir and have a receipt with you - take it along to Anand Sagar - you have a free entry ! (IT IS HUGEEEEE so plan out)
20. Better Plan and go you cannot just take a Sneak Peak at ANAND SAGAR it will need a day for you to travel all along….(don’t miss the toy train, aquarium, dhyan sadan there)
21. You may have your dinner at Anand Sagar's cafeteria or come back to Bhakta nivas again and walk in a decent restaurant oustide Bhakta Nivas enroute towards Mandir named as "Snehanjali!" (Good food-- mainly south Indian and Punjabi etc. (City-visitors will like it!)
22. Rest at Night……
23. In the morning take a cup of tea at the temple--- It has been a ritual for my mamma to have a cup of tea at KOTHALE's TEA for the last 35 years so I can say it is excellent quality. There is a famous Kachori shop next to it inside the temple - "Annapurna's " - have that and proceed to the Mandir for darshan. (Repeat the above instructions again if you like- you will never get bored, also there are shops opposite Kothale's and Annapurna which have accessories etc of Maharaj)If you are planning to buy a pothi or a Gajanan Maharaj photo buy it from Sansthan's outlet next to where cocunut is broken in two pieces.
24. There are Tonga rickshaws available outside the temple's main gate, you may fix a Tonga Rickshaw and go around in Shegaon there are 5 points which the Tonga Rickshwavala will show… Pragat STHAN, BANKAT SADAN, Mote Mandir, hanuman Mandir!!! 51/- rupees at the most(you can be generous here to the tonga rickshavala- he puts in his effort to carry you)!
This is a sincere effort in helping the Bhakts of my beloved Maharaj to Travel to Shegaon! I hope your journey is comfortable and may maharaj bless you with all that you need.
May Maharaj give me strength to write more! Note: If you find this useful - please leave a comment at the end! There isn't much satisfaction than to read a comment of how this information was useful to you.
Gana Gana Ganat Bote…..!!!
Pranaav For an efficient and quicker way to get your queries or questions answered regarding your travel plans to Shegaon - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org