Anyone who has read Sai Satchartira, a book about one of the greatest saints of our time, Shrida Sai Baba, has probably at least once wished to visit the city where he lived.
In the heart of Maharashtra, hidden in vast fertile fields, lies Shirdi, a city that is anything but ordinary. Of course, you can’t get there without Baba’s invitation and permission. Such are the holy places, and all the pilgrims in the world know that no matter the wishes and possibilities, going to holy places always depends exclusively on the divine call.
If you are lucky, that is, if it is your time, you will receive an invitation, and suddenly everything related to traveling to Shirdi will begin to open up for you.
Have faith that your whole trip and visit to Shirdi will be orchestrated in the most beautiful way possible so that you have a magical and unforgettable experience. It is the promise of the Saint, and I recommend you rely on it fully.
I got an invitation and had the opportunity to travel to this incredible city twice. The first time alone, in silence, but in Western style. And the second time, with the desire to experience all the charms of Shirdi more locally but with limited funds.
Shall you wish to experience and discover this city and are traveling on a budget, here are some of my tips:
1. Book your accommodation at SHREE SAIBABA SANSTHAN, DWARAWATI
The place is only 500 meters away from Baba’s Mandir and there are 334 large rooms, with and without AC.
The level of cleanliness and hospitality of the personnel in this place is beyond words. Everything is just perfect. Thanks to, among other, also Baba’s mantras all the time played in the background, this place and its energy cannot be matched by any five-star hotel in the area.
Rooms without an AC cost 500 INR and those with one cost 900 INR per night.
You can additionally buy tea for 3 INR and water for 10 INR.
Note: Rooms are for three people, with a bathroom and balcony, with an approximate size of 30 square meters.
2. Food option 1: SHREE SAI PRASADALAY
This place is amazing! With Baba’s grace, at this place, 50.000 free meals are served daily, plus 50.000 additional meals for a symbolic price of 50 INR.
So, as you can see, there is an option for everyone, with or without money. In Shirdi you can always get a full meal, with veggies and sweets, no questions asked.
Note: It is advisable to be there before noon, so you can find a free table and avoid waiting in long lines.
I share here some of my photos, just to show you how unbelievably tasty the food served in this place is.
2. Food option 2: SWAMI MADRAS RESTAURANT
Swami Madras is one of the oldest and best restaurants in Shirdi.
Here you can get a full meal for less than 150 rupees. We have tried many meals, and we still cannot decide which one was the best.
An interesting fact about this place is that they also do daily seva (serving free meals). So, whoever is hungry, can simply come to this place at noon and get a full meal.
The owner and the whole team are like family, they will take care of you as if they’ve known you forever. The restaurant is located only 20 meters from Baba’s Mandir and is very easy to find.
If you are a sweets junkie like myself, you need a good tip for sweets.
My top 2 are:
PC DAS (next to the Swami Madras restaurant)
mango and vegan paan 40 rupees
laddus 10 rupees
5. FOLLOWING BABA’S STEPS
To roam around Shirdi alone is not hard at all, as the place is very simple and locals are very open and helpful, but if you wish to have an authentic, one-of-a-kind experience and see everything from Baba’s perspective, I suggest you call Deepak.
He is one of the best guides in the world, humble, and incredibly devoted to giving you an amazing experience.
Deepak does his work as seva (service) for Baba, and does not charge, but we always recommend giving him a tip.
To conclude, one day stay in Shirdi on a budget can cost you around 1. 100 INR
ACCOMMODATION 500-900 INR
FOOD 0-50 / 50-150 INR
SWEETS 10-40 INR
SHIRDI TOUR 0- INR
For 12,50 EUR you get a comfortable stay, food, sweets and the most amazing, authentic city tour.
The experience of Shirdi is always nothing short of a fairy tale. It is truly Baba’s magical kingdom where everything is possible, wishes come true and the overflow of His grace never seizes. One is impressed by every corner of Shirdi. It’s every corner, street, and house that lives and breathes Baba, Baba’s life, and the enchanting stories from Shri Sai Satcharitra.
For all this, you don’t need fancy accommodations, five-star hotels, or anything luxurious. But, if you surrender, you will get it all in the most unusual ways. That is a sign of pure grace that flows from Baba and is a testimony of His promise.