The moment you get down at Shirdi, you’ll be approached by a few extremely humble human beings. They’ll promise you to show a cheap, neat and clean hotel; to help you jump the queue; will tell you it is very crowded and it may take you hours for darshan. These people are what you call touts. You’ll find them almost at any place of repute, be it a religious destination, a popular metro or an extremely popular hill station.
They also promise you to help with darshan (most of the times without any extra fee), all you have to do is purchase prasad (for 400-500 rupees, which they don’t tell you) from their shops. But it is always better to ask and fix rates beforehand. The dynamics of darshan at Shirdi also dependent on number of devotees at that particular time. Generally During lean season (July – October) it is not very difficult to have smooth darshan.
If you are using services of a tout, do not forget to take his card and ask his name. The card will have the shop number and name on it. Most of the times when you purchase prasad (offering), they’ll ask you to leave your shoes there (at their shop), though there are designated Sai Baba trust-run shoe stands.
It is a common notion that touts fleece pilgrims and it has been found correct in many cases. However, the onus is equally on the pilgrims as well. Do not agree on anything if you are not 100 per cent sure. For example, you are taken to a hotel, which you do not like, politely say so and move on or ask him to show you another hotel.
At times, even if you do not want a tout, they will keep you pestering. Just ignore. This is best way to get rid of them. Once you start a conversation, it is difficult for you not to get manipulated.
Never get into an argument with a tout. Keep your distance. You focus should always be on how to have a peaceful, trouble free and enjoyable holiday. And the best part, 10, 20 rupees here or there won’t make much a difference. A peaceful holiday should be the priority.
Where to stay in Shirdi?
How to Book Sai Baba Darshan & Aarti Online?
First Timer’s Travel Guide to Shirdi