Shirdi, in Maharashtra, is one of the most popular religious tourist destinations in India, with devotees of Sai Baba from across the country and beyond thronging it throughout the year.
Just about 200 kms away from Mumbai, you will find most people opting to drive down to Shirdi.
The route from Mumbai to Shirdi is – Mumbai to Nasik via the Mumbai-Nasik Expressway (also called the National Highway 3) and then Nashik to Shirdi via the National Highway 50 and State Highway 59.
Mumbai to Shirdi takes just about 5 hours in a car/taxi and about 6 hours by bus. There are a whole bunch of taxi and bus companies that ply the Mumbai-Shirdi route throughout the day. However, make sure that you have taken some basic precautions before you board a bus to Shirdi bus or climb onto that taxi –
- Make sure you have booked your tickets via the right guys. There are a whole bunch of operators, and not everybody have the basics in place. Using the most reputed operator will ensure that the vehicle is in good condition and serviced well.
- Most of the bus/taxi operators run their vehicles both ways in a span of 24 hours. Neither the vehicle nor the driving staff gets adequate rest. On our way back from Shirdi, our bus had caught fire. That’s probably because it had already done the Mumbai to Shirdi trip in the morning and the afternoon drive plus the hot March sun had taken its toll on the vehicle.
- Ensure that the driver is driving within the speed limit and that too, in the right lane. The road from Nashik to Shirdi is a 2-lane road without a divider, and most vehicles drive pretty recklessly in this stretch. You will also find village folks riding their bikes, scooters and carts along the same so-called ‘highway’. It amazes me how people want to ‘get done with their Holy visit’. Cases of accidents abound in this stretch. Be careful.
- Try to ensure a day-time drive to Shirdi and back. If necessary, start early or stay back for a day so as to avoid driving by the night. Too many accidents at night.
- Keep a few emergency numbers handy, such as that of the police, ambulance, emergency services in the expressway. It is shocking to see that no vehicles stop and come to your help should your car break down in the middle of nowhere in the highway/expressway. When the Neeta Travels bus that we were travelling in caught fire 2 hours away from Mumbai, nobody stopped. After a 30 minute stressful wait, we could finally hail down a state transport bus that had seats to spare and accommodated 50 passengers.
Also read WOOF’s other Shirdi blogs: