Summer Trip 2017: Maharashtra!
Train: Bangalore to Solapur
Train: Solapur to Kopargaon
Hotel: Sai Ashram & Dwaravati Bhaktinivas Shirdi
Vehicle: Shirdi to Aurangabad
Hotel: VITS Aurangabad
Train: Aurangabad to Mumbai
Train: Mumbai to Lonavala
Hotel: Ganga Zaran Lonavala
Train: Lonavala to Pune
Hotel: FabHotel Lakme Executive Pune
Flight: Pune to Bangalore
The Sri Saibaba Sansthan Trust has a few large buildings dedicated to housing devotees. Rooms are available here at discounted rates and they are either really close to the temple or they have a free shuttle service to it.
The Marathon of Booking
Our group required at least 4 (preferably air-conditioned) rooms. Each account can only book up to two rooms for some reason and we were able to book 2 A/C rooms at the Sai Ashram from the first account. When we logged in through the second account, all A/C rooms were booked and we were forced to book 2 Non-A/C room at Dwaravati. Each of these two residences are about 1.5 kilometers apart. Not easy but manageable.
Our room was similar to this
All our rooms had three beds each, but they had their difference. In Sai Ashram, the rooms were a tad bit small, the beds were also bit narrow and the A/C was pitiful. Even on the lowest temperature, the room took well over an hour to get cool. The flushes also didn’t work in any of the rooms in Sai Ashram and we had to pour in water using the bidet instead. Not exactly a cake walk. There was a sink near the reception saying “Drinking Water”, but it was extremely chlorinated and we avoided drinking it as much as possible.
The room was like this but without the A/C unit
The Dwaravati rooms were bigger and had a tad bit wider beds. They also had working flushes! As the rooms had a huge window, they felt cooler than the A/C rooms at most times. Sigh. What was the point?
Two families and my grandparents stayed at Dwaravati while the other us and another family stayed at Sai Ashram. We had all our meals at Dwaravati because more people were there and they had a nice subsidized tea shop in the basement. The tea shop was amazing! A tea only for ₹2 (3.1 cents)? A coffee for ₹3 (4.6 cents)? Whaaaat!?! That’s insane. Plus, they sold bottles of water there for half of the usual market price. We were sold.
Now unfortunately, our stay wasn’t exactly perfect. In our room at Sai Ashram, my mom, dad, brother, cousin and I were staying. My brother and cousin slept on one bed, my dad on another and I on the last. My mother slept on the floor to relieve her back ache. Anyway, we returned from Dwaravati pretty late after dinner and it was about midnight when we were going to sleep. My brother and cousin had already slept.
So, my mom asked for my pillow as I don’t use one. When I picked it up, I noticed a bedbug right under it. Oh no! Now, our family has lots of allergies and stuff so dust and bugs are a big no-no. I checked the rest of the bed and found at least 4 more. We immediately quarantined the bed and decided what to do. I went to the building assistant and told him about the bedbugs. He asked if we had the receipt. And unfortunately no. The receipt was in Dwaravati! We can’t go there and wake them up at midnight. The man then told us to go speak to the people in the main office. Now this campus is so huge, it takes like 10 minutes just to walk from the gate to the block. Anyway, my dad and I went on a nighttime stroll.
The main office was super understanding and they immediately issued us a key for another room. After the trek back, I inspected the new room and found it free of any critters. Now we had to move our stuff. At half past 12! We immediately took all the luggage but when we woke my brother and my cousin, I saw a few more bugs crawl in their blanket and bed sheet. No way! We had to rush them out of the room, make them strip up to their underwear in the hall(It was midnight. There was no one!) and make sure they didn’t have any bugs on them. They then washed up a bit and wore fresh clothes. And slept again in the new room. We finally fell asleep at about 1 AM.
What a day!