Oct-2006: This is the trip which started it all. This was our first trip as a group which over the years led to many exciting trips. Not that there were not attempts made earlier, but nothing was coming through and it seems divine intervention was what was required. So, one fine day or rather afternoon as we were taking after lunch walk Ashk initiated the topic to go for some outing. Again, you know how these discussions are, they start with some small place and then within no time every one is throwing around names of some exotic locations and then the plan is non starter even before it had time to form. But that day, he not only talked about the outing but suggested rather asserted we go to Alandi.
Alandi is a holy town close to Pune which is a place of pilgrimage having samadhi of Sant Dnyaneshwar maharaj and is around 20 km from Pune city. This seemed like nice place to start our journey and everyone were on board in no time. We decided to go the coming Saturday and decided to travel by bike. We all were from different parts of Pune and so I, Ashk & Ram were to meet at their place (I was going to travel pillion) and then we were to meet near Bombay Sapers where Sam, Sandy & Rav were going to join us. We were planning to start early and plan was to be back by afternoon.
As this was our first official trip and also it was going to be a short one there was no specific planning done. I just showed up at Ashk place as per plan around 8:00 am and after some time Ram joined in and we started towards the meeting spot. We reached there around 9:00 am which was close to the agreed upon time, but there was no trace of other guys, they started arriving one after the other and Sam was the last one. Finally we were on our way. The road to take is straight from there, i.e. towards Vishartwadi and this goes all the way to Alandi. The road till Vishartwadi or till bit further was ok, but from there on the road was real bad. It becomes single lane, with good amount of traffic for company and as you approach the town the road was no more than gravel. It really tested us!
Somehow we managed to the town and after crossing the famous Indryani river we parked. We were quite hungry and the original plan was to eat something en-route, but as we had started late, we had come non stop here. So there was one nice restaurant just at the entrance point of the temple walkway and we had misal and vada sambar there which was nice along with tea. We then went straight away to take darshan of Sant Dnyaneshwar maharaj. The samadhi & and temple is tranquil and spiritual. This I think was my first visit there and I liked the place. Then we spent some time along the banks of the river, the name of which has been engraved in our minds from childhood.The town is quite nice and well maintained, though the river could be kept in better shape.
We were not sure on what next and were contemplating, when Ashk informed us that one of his relatives is disciple of Sant and he manages one of the ashrams just outside the town and he is in today. So we headed there to meet him and we had nice discussion with him. It was almost lunch hour and they were serving food for the devotees and he asked us also to have the prasad. So we sat on the floor and had the lunch which was nice and a good experience. It was over 1:30 pm now and we had to head back. The weather was quite hot though. We were back on the adventurous road and our back & spine got a good rundown :(. Earlier in the day on our way to Alandi we had spotted a new Sai baba temple which was still under construction but is quite nice and Ashk wanted to stop there for some time. So we compiled and had darshan. The work was still going on but the marble temple looked quite imposing and nice.
We also had nimbu pani outside the main entry gate and now were heading back home. We entered Pune around 2:30 pm and one after other people started going there own ways. We also headed towards Ashk’s home. I then picked my bike and was back home around 3:30 pm. So this started the journey which took us to visit many forts, treks and general travel and we were also back to Alandi as well few times!