1) Be prepared for 31/2 to 4 Hrs to stand in queue. I am told it takes as much as 6 Hrs on festive season. Ours took 3 1/2 hrs with a 45 min stoppage time for evening Aarti when nothing moved!!.... (4 to 730pm)
2) Keep edible items, snacks, biscuits, juice etc to survive this agonizing wait(Baba himself says god can't be thought in empty stomach). Nothing is available once you stand in line except for water bottles. I am told in the morning time for some duration some food items are available with a crowd of 75,000 this would vanish in a blink of an eye.
3) If you are with child /infant ( I am shocked that Parents even attempt this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)please keep enough milk, baby food items to last 4 hrs, It was pathetic to see kids screaming in hunger, parents and relatives were in such a situation that they couldn't do much.
4) Once you decide to stand in queue, it is practically impossible to retreat should you change your mind,there are no contact person etc to rescue in an emergency situation etc. Pathetic. The queue length accommodating 25,000 people can be imagined (Single file). At no time you can contact any organisation interface to help you.
5) Mobile etc are confiscated if you take it in. So please leave it at Hotel room or lockers. It was pathetic sight to see folks taking picture and getting rapped on the knuckles.
6) Women can carry small handbags.
7) Passes/ VIP darshan too have become meaningless, even those lines are in 100s. I remember in my 2009 visit, the Rixa driver chiding me for VIP attempt, his logic is," the more you stand in Queue the more you think of god". Sound logic. This trip we seriously didn't attempt any!?.
8) Dwarkamai also there is restricted access to the sanctum Sanctorum, with every trip, I find the chance to have physical access to places where Baba lived and breathed is restricted to devotees. Be prepared for 1 Hr queue at Dwarkamai. Last time the pleasure of touching Baba's samadhi was taken away. So every year the man- divine contact is restricted.!!!
9) Security guards can be arrogant, nonsensical, and lack common sense (Of course the last trait is expected of them, else they will be our boss!!!) I saw case where a 100% Blind man was denied entry in to main temple. So much for empathy, what can you expect from a govt controlled setup?? SHAME??
10) On the food side, try eating OLD SHARE PUNJAB restaurant located in the lane (100feet) opposite GATE 2.
11) Travel to PUNE Airport by Road, takes 5 hrs on a normal traffic condition, anything less is impossible.The Pune Shirdi traffic is a SHAME story for how not to plan Highway layout. Authorities there, should visit, TamilNadu to see how every small town is by passed on highway!!..
12) If you are in Pune on transit for say 3 /4 hrs with no business, try Hotel Ibis near airport to meet/ spend time to relax. Good place. Food decent budget pricing!.
So In short, as I keep telling my FOREIGN friends, we do well in India, IN SPITE of our Government. It was pathetic to see the same extended to even worship god. We go there in spite all hardship!!... YES, the IDIOTIC brain will still want to visit SHIRDI in next 6 months and we will be going despite all the hardships, arrogant attitude of administration!! Such is life of an Indian, the common sense will never PREVAIL. !!! I have told my wife in future to focus more to visit our temple in family ancestral town where even 1000 people wont visit in a year and there is a beautiful village surrounding/ river Thamirabharani to enjoy watching in full flow.
Let's see!! Will keep you updated if the next visit is done!!....
PS: Despite all this wife and children longed for one more darshan at Main temple (Samadhi Mandir) and I refused to join them saying it is madness!! They went ahead without me at next day morning 830am. Imagine my shock!! (I was at Prayer hall reading SAI CHATCHARITHA) that they finished darshan in 35 Min flat!!!! Hmmm Strange again are god's ways!!......