Jan 5, 2012

A visit to Shegaon, Anand Sagar and Anand Vihar

Please Note: I am not associated with Shri Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan in any manner and this should have been clear after reading the first paragraph itself. Still I am getting daily 1-2 mails for enquiries about Anand Vihar rooms availability. I have tried to reply individually to all the enquiries and provided the contact details as well. But going forward, it won't be possible. Please note that there is no system of advance booking in Shegaon and you need to reach the respective booking office. At the most, you can contact on their telephone numbers for enquiries (not for booking) when you reach near Shegaon. Contact details are mentioned in the main article below and are also available on http://www.gajananmaharaj.org/sgmsenglish/newas.htm

It has been more than 12 years since I last visited Shegaon. And that is a fairly long period considering the fact that there are lakhs of devotees of Shri Gajanan Maharaj, who visit Shegaon every year.

This time my elder brother and my sister-in-law planned the tour and insisted that all the members of the family should accompany them to Shegaon.

We had heard that Shegaon has changed a lot during last decade or so, especially after Anand Sagar is developed.  Finally we planned our visit for the weekend on 10th and 11th  of December 2011. Normally it is advised that weekends  and Thursdays should be avoided to visit Shegaon since there is heavy rush, but we decided to take a chance and we did not have any other suitable dates as well. Also my birthday was on Sunday, as per Hindu Panchang (tithi). So it was a great occasion to be able to take the Darshan on that day and receive the blessings. 

Now we had the options to go by own car, by taxi, by bus or by train. Since the plan was finalised at the last moment, train option was ruled out for the want of reservations. Options of going by own car or by taxi were also ruled out since normally we avoid night journeys, unless there is an urgency to travel. So if we would have started at 7 AM on Saturday morning from Nagpur, we would have reached Shegaon by 2 PM. And then we would have to leave Shegaon by 3 PM on Sunday so as to reach Nagpur before Sunday night. So we would have wasted so much of time on Saturday and Sunday in travelling, leaving us lesser time to spend at Shegaon.

So we decided to go by bus. Baba Travels from Nagpur operates a sleeper coach which leaves Nagpur at 10:30 PM and reaches Shegaon early next morning. Similarly their bus leaves Shegaon at 09:30 PM and reaches Nagpur early morning. We left Nagpur Friday night, reached Shegaon at 05:30 AM on Saturday fresh after a good night's sleep, utilised the maximum time on Saturday and Sunday and then left Shegaon on Sunday night to reach Nagpur Monday morning, ready to get back to work. And we could enjoy total lunar eclipse as well. See more detailed post here 

About Shegaon:

Shegaon is located around 550 km east of the city of Mumbai and 300 km west from the city of Nagpur. Operative airport nearby is Nagpur Airport. It is located on Mumbai-Nagpur route of the Indian Railways and many major trains stop here. 

The photograph of the railway time table as displayed in Anand Vihar Bhakta Niwas is shown here, although it is in Marathi language. This is attached here just to make readers aware that the management of this Sansthan is one of the few ones in India, or perhaps the only one who takes very good care of large number of devotees. Much more on that would follow later.

About Shri Gajanan Maharaj:

The origins of Sant Shri Gajanan Maharaj are untraceable in history. He first miraculously appeared in Shegaon on 23rd February 1878. He was first seen eating cooked rice grains from thrown away food in front of a house where some function was going on. He also drank water with the cattle and went away. His second appearance was when  Maharaj Govindbuwa Takalikar was elaborating on a few lines from Bhagwat and just when he had explained the meaning of the first part of those lines, Shri Gajanan Maharaj sitting near a lemon tree chanted fluently the lines in second part. Govindbuwa immediately understood that this divine man has the command over the subject. He was constantly chanting the lines "Gan Gan Ganat Bote". So he was given the name "Gajanan Maharaj". 

Thereafter, he became well known as a Saint in Shegaon and nearby areas. He was believed to be the incarnation of Samartha Ramdas Swami from Sajjangadh. Devotees used to offer him rich food, clothes, ornaments etc. But he used throw away all these. He used to lie anywhere, eat anything, wear any piece of cloth or nothing at all. 

Shri Gajanan Maharaj was a Siddhayogi. He did so many unusual things which were miracles. He brought odd behaving animals on track. He ordered birds like crows to behave properly. He brought water to the dry well. He cured the sick, helped the helpless, showed right path to those who wanted. He gave advice to his devotees. He could read the mind of his devotee. Those who came to see him with some purpose in mind, always went home satisfied. It is said that there was always a sense of peace and satisfaction around him. His eyes could give proper direction to the erring. That's why he is worshipped nearly in every house in Vidarbha, Maharashtra and nearby states. Because of the immense good deeds, he has become a legendary phenomenon. There are hundreds & thousand of temples in all the parts of Maharashtra as well as outside Maharashtra in his name. He has become the Daivat of Vidarbha, and Shegaon has become the Pandharpur of Vidarbha.

After blessing so many devotees for years together, he himself decided to take a leave from this world and decided the date and place of his Samadhi as well. And that date was 8th September 1910. But his innumerable disciples and devotees believe that their Daivat Sadguru Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj is still alive and guides and helps them. They tell their own experiences of his blessings. That's why thousands of devotees come to Shegaon.

About Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan:
As per the advice from Shri Gajanan Maharaj to his disciples, a trust was established in his presence named as "Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan" in the year 1908. Official website of this Sansthan is http://www.gajananmaharaj.org
A temple was erected at a place where Shri Gajanan Maharaj took the Samadhi at a place of his choice. He had said that "YA JAGI RAHIL (I will stay here)". So it is believed that this temple is still blessed with his presence.
Sansthan undertakes various religious, social and charitable activities, apart from managing the activities of Mandir. 

About Day to Day Management:
Despite of the fact that thousands of devotees come to Shegaon daily, Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan wonderfully manages the day to day affairs. And the facilities provided for devotees are excellent. Here everybody is treated at par. There is no such system here like VIP entrance for those who provided large donations. Everybody has to pass through same queue.

For queueing, huge halls are built with proper ventilation and air cooling. Queues are formed in such a way that there are benches on one side. So you can sit and still be in a queue. Washrooms are there in these halls itself and people may use those after getting a pass. Drinking water is provided then and there itself. Tea is served in those halls for the devotees, free of cost. Even where you have to exit from one hall and enter another hall, and need to pass through an open roofed space,  foot mats and runners are spread to that you shouldn't feel the heat walking barefoot. All in all, you don't feel tired to wait in queue, even if the time required for darshan is 2-3 hours, depending on rush. Picture beside shows how the queues are formed and people sitting on bench on one side of the queue. 

Name of the old man seen in this picture is Laxman Tayde and he lives in Shegaon only. Still this man visits mandir twice daily in the morning and evening for darshan, irrespective of how long the queue is and how long it takes for him to have the Darshan. Incredible...isn't it? And where ever one queue ends and we need to pass freely through a passage before next queue starts, he runs so fast. Reminded the videos of Shri Anna Hazare running at Raj Ghat.

Entire area is continuously kept clean. They use machines for cleaning. So you don't have to walk barefoot on sticky floor with spilled kunkum, flowers, rice grains and prashaad, as is the case in most other temples. They even hold the queue from moving forward till the time, floor is getting cleaned. They spray some perfumed liquids to get rid of houseflies as well. 

Daily Mahaprasad is provided to thousands of devotees and excellent quality material is used to cook the food, while maintaining complete hygiene as well. We saw a huge machine to prepare rotis. Atta is mixed on one side of it to form a dough, round shaped rotis are cut by machine, remaining material after cutting the rounds is passed back and rotis are roasted on conveyor belts. 

About Sevaks:

Sevak is man you will find everywhere in Shegaon. In Mandir, in Bhakta Niwas and in Anand Sagar. They are the people from nearby villages who come to Shegaon for offering free services, one week at a time and in groups. Its amazing to see their dedication in work. Nobody seems to direct them on what is to be done. 
Still you will find a Sevak at every place where he is needed. They prevent the people from wearing shoes while walking on lawns, they clean the entire area, serve the food, maintain the discipline in Mandir and in queues. And they are always polite. 

And they don't accept any tips as well.  This board displayed in Anand Vihar says that you should let the service be served as a service only. And rather than making Sevaks fall in love for money, you should love them for their service. They are the first point of contact for you in case you need any assistance. 

It is said that there is always a waiting list for the next few months for those who want to work as Sevaks. 

About Bhakta Niwas:

Sansthan has done an incredible work to provide well maintained accommodation for the devotees. There are a number of Bhakta Niwas for this purpose. There is no system of prior booking. So you have to look for the accommodation, once you reach Shegaon. Sansthan urges that devotees should make telephonic enquiries when they come near to Shegaon on the numbers provided in this advertisement published on http://www.gajananmaharaj.org/sgmsenglish/newas.htm

There are different types of rooms available, depending on everyone's budget and requirement. But in general it is very reasonable. Accommodation is provided for a maximum period of 72 hours only. 

About Anand Vihar Bhakta Niwas:

We were fortunate enough to get the accommodation in Anand Vihar Bhakta Niwas, which is the newest and the best amongst all. It is located at a distance of 1 KM from Anand Sagar. 

Even though it is a Bhakta Niwas built, owned and operated by Sansthan, it is no lesser than a luxurious holiday resort but at a reasonable rate. We got a room with 6 beds in just Rs.900 per day. Rooms are neat and clean with attached washrooms, hot water for bathing and fortunately no television. There are beautiful sculptures everywhere with picturesque landscaping and gardening.  You won't see a piece of paper lying on ground.

There are tea, coffee vending machines installed at every building's ground floor and Sevaks are there to assist you and collect the charges as well.

Free bus service is provided to commute to Mandir from Anand Vihar. 

Posting some pictures and to view more full size pictures of Anand Vihar, click here

About Anand Sagar:

Shegaon is a small town and even though devotees wished to extend their stay in this holy environment, there were no places of interest nearby for them to spare their time peacefully and relax in a spiritual environment. Recognising this need, Sansthan started the development work for AnandSagar in the year 1999. But this place had the acute shortage of water. So it was believed that this project won't be a success. But Sansthan took this as a challenge and they brought water from Man River which is 9 kms away. Rain water harvesting is also done here. It required 4 lakh trucks full of soil for landscaping as per the design and over 60,000 trees were planted.

Total area of this project is 350 acres, out of which first phase of 120 acres was opened for public service in the year 2003. Out of this 120 acres, 60 acres is for the lake, 30 acres is for lush green lawns and 30 acres is for parking and other utility areas. 

Most incredible thing is that there is no Executive Engineer for this project, nor it has a site office kind of a thing. Over 500 labourers worked at full efficiency without any monitory compensation, once a week. Over 200 expert sculptors from Rajasthan worked here to create Main Entrance, Marble Temples and other sculptures. Apart from that, 3 JCB machines and 10 tipper trucks, all owned by Sansthan were deployed for this project. 

This information is provided here so that the readers would get an idea about the size of this project. 

Now Anand Sagar has a beautiful lake, Dhyan Mandir (Meditation Centre) at the centre of the lake, 3.5 kms long train ride, fish aquarium, kids play area, amusement park with many rides, musical fountain, temples and Sant Darshan area. There are many amenities for the devotees, including free wheel chairs, baby prams and umbrellas (for rainy season). Here also, very reasonable food is served with good taste. Free bus service from Temple is available for commuting.  There are beautiful artefacts and carvings all around. 

Posting some pictures and to view more full size pictures of Anand Sagar, click here:

Concluding Remarks:

Shegaon is the place which is visited by lakhs of devotees every year. Sansthan receives huge donations from them, but they have done well to return it back to them in the form of services and amenities. It is a completely non-commercial place and Sansthan has undertaken many religious and charitable projects like Educational Institutes, hospitals etc. At such a place where it is certain that donations are utilised well, it gives a sense of satisfaction on donating.

Even though Anand Vihar is like a luxurious resort and Anand Sagar is like a tourist place, people are requested to visit Shegaon and stay there, not like a tourist, but like a devotee and maintain the sanctity of this place. 

Feels good to complete this article and taking this post live on Thursday, the day on which Shri Gajanan Maharaj is worshipped.


  1. Very beautifully written.

  2. Got one message from the Contact Us option above, from Mr. xxxx (name not disclosed here). He has asked me: "
    is room availabe on 31..01.2011 and 01.02.2011 at shegaon for couple and one child? what is the rate"

    Assuming that he wanted to enquire for 2012 and not for 2011 dates, I would like to clarify that I went to Shegaon just as a normal devotee and that too after 12 years. So I am not affiliated to Sansthan in any manner and I cannot comment on the room booking and rates. Also it is already mentioned in the main post above that there is no system of prior booking. Only you can make telephonic enquiries, when you are en-route to Shegaon.

    Phone numbers are available in the advertisement available on http://www.gajananmaharaj.org/images/Acom.jpg

  3. The famous holy place in India.There is no corruption in this temple.

  4. Please do not get in touch with me for accommodation related queries. I am not at all associated with Sansthan and contact numbers are mentioned in the article above. 

  5. Very nice information appears to me as systematic as Sansthan's arrangements. I plan to visit next month.

    I think many have troubled them with inquiries. Please don't do this. Otherwies persons like Sandeep may stop writing and we will miss such nice information.

  6. Thanks Rajiv for your comment. Its not that I will stop writing due to such queries, because I write for my own satisfaction. But at the same time, I get disappointed that people post comments, without reading the article properly. When I have clearly mentioned that I visited Shegaon after more than a decade, it clearly states that I am in no way associated with the Sansthan. So why should people ask me whether booking is available or not? Contact numbers are there in the photo in the article itself. Why people ask me the same again? Due to such queries, I feel that my writing skills are not good and people are unable to understand fully what I meant to convey.

    Sandeep Parkhi

  7. Mr. Sandeep Parkhi
    संदीप पारखी मी अजय पवारशेगावला मी दर वर्षी जातो. तुम्ही जो भक्तीचा प्रसार करत आहात त्यासाठी माझ्याकडे शब्धच नाहीत अजय पवारमुंबई 

  8. धन्यवाद. गेल्या रविवारी शेगावला जाण्याचा योग आला आणि पुन्हा सुंदर सेवाभाव अनुभवायला मिळाला.

  9. its really a good informative  article and helpful to new devotees.

  10. Good Article sandeep and nice photos .. Hope u had a great trip .. given the summer vacations .hope you managed the accomodation and darshan. I am planning for next weekend to Shegoan. Any tips ??

    Shailesh Parsewar (Pune)

  11. Obviously in summer, you can't go out during afternoon. But rooms have cooler/AC, so there is no problem. 10 years ago, this area had a water scarcity. But Sansthan has managed to bring water from nearby dams and rain water harvesting. And Sevaks don't stop sweeping the roads during afternoon as well. So your stay would be enjoyable. All the best!!!

  12. Thanks for reading and your comment...

  13. Very nice wording and details given about Shri Maharaj as well as Sansthan also.  Whole heartly thanks for your these efforts and site. Jai Gajanan. Anandat Aasave. 

    Keshav from Akola.

  14. Thanks for reading and your compliments...

  15. Nice article encouraged me to visit Shegaon.

  16. Thanks for reading the article and your comment...

  17. HI Sandeep,
          i am from shegaon ,the information you have given about shegaon & shree Gajanan maharaj sansthan is very nice &
    your photography too. But next time when you will visit to shegaon please  you  must visit to NAGZARI (8 km) from shegaon & very good place for devotees & aiso comes under santhan .

    1. On the way to Shegaon again. Would definitely try to cover Nagzari this time.

  18. Thanks for your comment and suggestion. I would definitely try to cover Nagzari next time.

  19. thanks for the information.

  20. Thank you sir, with this valuable & detail information i can add some of the information in my National level paper presentation on Pilgrimage Tourism in India by keeping your link in References & Bibliography.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Its indeed my pleasure that I could be of some help in your paper presentation.

  21. Hi Sandeep,

    Thank you very much and really appreciated for giving so nice and helpful information. I seen the photographs. It looks so beautiful.... i really felt in love and very much excited to visit the place. We should thankful for the each and every person of sansthan who built and keep the place so beautiful. May Shree Gajanan Maharaj bless all of them and all devotees. Well, I am planning to visit in Dec-12 with my family at a first time and hopefully we will enjoy it. GOD BLESS ALL !!!!!!

    1. Thanks for the comment. You would have a wonderful stay in Shegaon in December. Make sure to carry enough winter wear.

  22. Informative article. Planning to visit 27.11.2012. Ishwar Sancheti, Mumbai

    1. Thanks for the comment. I am on the way to Shegaon and would be there till 25th.

  23. Is there any entertainment rides and parks for children

  24. Yes. There are a lot of free and some paid rides with nominal charges

  25. We visited Nagzari this time. Thanks for your suggestion. Its a nice place.

  26. Thanks for the comment. Its indeed my pleasure that I could be of some help in your paper presentation

  27. Thanks for the comment. I was in Shegaon from 23 to 25 Nov.

  28. hi.sandeep this is chandan ,u hav given very incredable info about the city.i liked it ..we (me and my girlfriend) wanted to come up their and hav fun their..so wnted to know the city is only for devotees or for ppl us also??to hav fun..

  29. pls let me know the places,also thanks.

  30. Good to know that you liked the information. Unfortunately this is not the place wherein you can just have fun with your girlfriend. If you refer the last para in the article, it is mentioned that people should visit this place not like a tourist but as a devotee and maintain the sanctity of this place. Rooms in Bhakta Niwas are not provided to a couple. If a couple is visiting, they need to stay in common halls.

  31. You can visit Shri Gajanan Maharaj Mandir, Anand Sagar and Nagzari

  32. I want to know sum information abt Anand vihar plz help me

  33. Please elaborate what exact information you need

  34. We returned from Shegaon yesterday. Thanks for all the priceless information provided by you. I am no atheist, but the state of affairs at most of our so called important holy places tends to make me one. But Shegaon is an exception. This is one place which is heaven on earth. No amount of superlatives can describe Shegaon, Cleanliness is next to Godliness, Just visit Shegaon and find out why.

    Let us all of us take a leaf out of Shegaon to make our lives divine in its true sense.

    Bidyut Bhowal.

  35. I hope that you got an accommodation in Anand Vihar. I am also glad that you had a wonderful stay in Shegaon.

    Its indeed satisfying to know that the information provided in this article was of some help to you.

    And yes...when you see the system in Shegaon, even if you are an atheist, you tend to believe that there is some divine power and something super human who is managing this entire show...Jai Gajanan...

  36. Hi, with well known fact that you're in no way associated with sansthan and enquiry nos are mentioned.
    But it will be very kind of you if you can answer the following queries.
    1. Are Anand Vihar Bhakta Niwas and 'Bhakta Niwas' at two different locations?
    2. If yes, how do I go to Ananda Vihar Bhakta Niwas? Any landmark/Driving Directions?
    3. Do they have enough car parking at Anand Vihar Bhakta Niwas? (I'll be driving from Mumbai)

    Thanks in advance. Your blog is very informative, keep writing.

  37. Hi Aditya,

    Thanks for your comment. Any such comments are always welcome, but I do annoyed if somebody asks me whether the room is available for the next weekend.

    Answers to your queries are as under:

    1) There are 3-4 Bhakta Niwas complexes maintained by Sansthan near Mandir. Apart from that, near Anand Sagar, there are two more complexes "Anand Visava" and "Anand Vihar". So "Anand Vihar" is a name of Bhakta Niwas.

    2)In Shegaon, these are well known places and your can reach there easily. Shegaon is a small town and even though Anand Sagar is on the outskirts, it is just 2 kms from main Mandir. When you are entering Shegaon, first of all, you will see Anand Sagar on the left. You need to go straight towards the town. Then after 1 km, on the left side, Anand Vihar is there and just opposite Anand Vihar, Anand Visava is there.

    3) There is ample car parking in Anand Visava. Not only that, if you are having a driver, then the drivers' accommodation is separate (free of cost for them when he shows your room rent receipt)

    I hope this answers your queries.

  38. Sandeep,
    First of all thanks for providing beautiful information and your experience in Shegaon. This is also one kind of 'Seva" you are doing.
    I am planning to visit Shegaon with family and need some information.
    1. We are planning to visit in month of March 2013, will it be too hot specially for children in mid or end of March?
    2. We will be group of 7 to 11 people, if we go in weekends will there be problem to get accomodation in sansthan as there is rush. ( I am sorry for this question as I have seen older posts, but as you always go there you might know average chances to get accomodation).
    3. If we travel by train from Mumbai is there any requirement to hire vehicle in Shegaon?


  39. Dear Ashish,

    Thanks for your compliments.

    The intention of writing this article was to make more people aware of this place and its indeed a great pleasure when I hear that somebody visited this place after reading the article. But to call it a "Sewa" is not correct since "Sewa" needs a lot more dedication and hard work.

    Anyways, the answers to your queries are as under:

    1. It will be somewhat hot after mid March. So better to plan it in early March. Even if you go after mid March, your afternoon time will be wasted, but you can go out after 4 pm or so. Make sure to carry some summer wear. Last year, I was there in mid April, but we people in Vidarbha are used to summer heat here.

    2. Accomodation in March should not be a problem since exams would be going on. Try to reach early Saturday morning.

    3. Sansthan provides free bus service from Mandir, Anand Sagar and Anand Vihar. Even otherwise, you may hire auto rickshaw or "tanga" @Rs.10 -15 per seat on a sharing basis. So its not that expensive. And distance is also not much. So there is no need to hire any vehicle.

    Hope that I am able to address your queries.


  40. We are very lucky, got an accomodation in ANDAD VIHAR. Sansthan provides free bus service, called SEVA from Shegaon stn-Anand vihar- Maharaj Mandir. Anand vihar is a very beautiful and clean place. our stay in shegaon was wonderful and like to stay again in Anand vihar when we visit again. No words to describe the SEVA provided by the people.

  41. we are very lucky, got an accommodation in Anand Vihar which made our stay in shegaon wonderful. Very beautiful and clean place to stay. Tremendous efforts by the local people to make such nice place. There is free bus service called SEVA from Shegaon Station to Anand Vihar - Shree Gajanan Maharaj Mandir. I would like to stay in Anand vihar when we visit shegaon again. I wish to get accomodation , as there is no online booking service first come first basis.

    Don't forget to visit Anand vihar when you visit shegaon.

    Mrs. Swati Parundekar & family

  42. Thanks Sandeep, we are planning to go to Shegaon and nothing could've helped us better than your article. Thanks again.

  43. Thanks Aanchal for taking the time out to read this and posting a comment. Its indeed pleasurable to know that I could be of some help. I am sure you would have a wonderful stay in Shegaon. Jai Gajanan!!!!

  44. Thanks for the comment. Good to know your experiences in Shegaon.

  45. Sir, Your article is informative and can provide good capsule to pilgrims.Please keep it up...

  46. parekhji ati sundar kam tumhi karata dhanyawad

  47. so nice place he maharastratil khupch bhavya ani prekshniy thikan ahe i like it.

  48. Thanks Parkhi, you give us lot of information.

  49. Hi,
    This is Pavan from Hyderabad. I don't know Hindi. Is there any language problem or can we manage with English?
    Generally can we get accommodation on Thursdays?

  50. Hi Pavan,

    Shegaon is a small town in Maharashtra and there will hardly be any English speaking people. So it will be a bit of problem but I think you can manage with the help of some other visiting devotees nearby. Also as I have already written in main article, getting accomodation on Thursday and weekends is a bit difficult, but you should be able to find a room in one or the other Bhakta Niwas.


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