Starting Point and Food
We recently visited Mehandipur Balaji. It was a two day trip and was not that tiring as we expected it to be. Road from Chandigarh to Delhi is superb and it takes you hardly 3-4 hours to reach delhi. But from Delhi to Bhiwari it takes a lifetime. We started our journey at sharp 6 AM from Chandigarh and took a break at Murthal for B’fast. Our favourite is Gulshan Dhaba although you have plenty options for Dhabas to Fancy Restaurants in this stretch. Chokhi Dhani, Shukdev Dhaba, Sagar Ratna, Haveli….your taste buds will surely thank you for such splurging and super fattening food. Whenever I am traveling, my biggest fear is unkempt and smelly bathrooms, but the restrooms in Gulshan Dhaba were very clean. Our B’fast consisted on Tandoori stuffed paronthas and curd and it was reasonably good.
There is one new shop by the name of Burfiwala near Sukhdev Dhaba. It makes fresh Burfi, Ladoos and other Indian sweets. Burfi here is Rs 400 per kg but it is very fresh and tasty. Once our tummies were full, we started our journey again. I drove from Ambala to Murthal and from here on my husband was behind the wheels. I avoid driving within Delhi. People drive too close and traffic snarls adds to tension. We reached Delhi border at 10 AM. Delhi to Gurgaon traffic was slow but moving. Actual travel voes starts once you crosses Gurgaon. The stretch from Gurgaon-Manesar-Bhiwari is extremely bad, full of potholes and traffic merging from all sides. While going towards Bhiwari, traffic was comparatively less maybe because it was morning time, but while returning back to Chandigarh the next day, we touched Bhiwari at 2 PM but reaching Karnal bypass took us more than four hours and we could cross Delhi border only at 6 PM.
Staying Options at Mehandipur Balaji
Construction of flyover, Metro Station and Tracks, Buildings and projects makes it very difficult for commuters to pass peacefully from Gurgaon-Bhiwari stretch. Bhiwari is touted as next Gurgaon and the rampant construction both sides on the roads proves this notion right. Although we reach Alwar at 4PM, we decided to stay there for a night and start our journey to Mehandipur Balaji the next day as we were not sure of staying options at Mehandipur. But lemme tell you that you will get very decent and reasonable hotels just 1km from the temple premises. These dharamshalas or hotels have attached baths, ACs, Generators and one even had a lift. The charges are reasonable, starting from Rs 300 for a Non AC room and Rs 500 onwards for an AC room. Its quite hot and humid in Rajasthan so you would need AC from April beginning.
The trip would cost you around 7-8k. With Rs 303 as toll tax for one way (Chd to Ambala Rs37, Ambala to Karnal Rs105, Karnal to Delhi Rs30, Delhi to Manesar Rs56, Manesar to Alwar Rs55, Alwar to Sikandra Rs50), Around 6k for fuel (We got two tanks full for 50ltr Innova and most of it was wasted on that Bhiwadi-Manesar stretch.) and rest on food and stay. Now after going there, I checked google maps and found two alternate routes from Panipat to Bhiwadi or Sonepat to Bhiwadi which will bypass Delhi to Manesar stretch thus saving your time, energy and fuel. Otherwise the road is good. From Bhiwadi to Mehandipur, its a new road with minimal traffic and superb view. I enjoyed driving there.
Best time to visit Balaji, according to locals is during Feb and March. Tuesday and Saturday are sacred days of Balaji, hence people throng in thousands. The queues starts from 2 kms far from the temple on these days and there is no guarantee of you having a chance of getting the darshans on the same day. Mehandipur is a small town and the Temple building is quite old. The arrangements are not proper and its very difficult for kids and elderly people to stand in the queue for so long. People push and pull you, run over your feet and are unapologetic about their behavior. If you are visiting as a devotee, these things don’t matter much, but if you are visiting as a tourist destination, you will be amused to find leaps of garbage, cow dung, people spitting and prashad spread over ground. So Locals say that Wednesday are Thursday are the better days to visit as people are comparatively less.
If you are going by your own vehicle, try to park it in a far off area, or the first parking you get. Road to the Temple is very crowded and narrow and chances are good that you may get few scratches on your car along way, Like we did. Some lessons are learned the hard way (Sob Sob). Disclaimer: I was not behind the wheels at the time of incident. You can hire an auto-rikshaw, cycle-rikshaw or a jeep as per your comfort. So coming again on the huge rush for the darshans, it is advisable to book your stay for one extra day so that even if you fail to get darshans, you can go again on the following day. I heard so many people who came back without Darshans because they had already waited for Four hours in the queue to reach the Temple, and it would have taken another 3-4 hours to the deity place.
Some Pictures of the Journey
The Yummy Burfi of Burfiwala at Murthal, you must try it.
Sainik Rest house in Alwar. Very old building, needs maintenance.
Peepal Tree in the Sainik Rest house premises.
Our car before it was scratched 😦
Company Bagh/Gardan opposite Rest House. Its an interesting place with lots of people hanging around and picturesque view. You also get to listen devotional songs in the evening.
Entrance of the Company Bagh.
Shimla Green House in the middle of the Garden.
Shimla Green House. Nice place na.
Long queues at the Temple. Temple guards can also be seen, holding lathis and wearing Black Dresses.
You can also have a view of the “cleanliness” in and around the main temple. Leaps of Garbage and open sewage welcomes you with open manholes…err hands.
People standing in the queue for atleast two-three hours before getting Darshans on General days.
However, on special days it may take a day or two to get darshans. So prepare yourself.
Thousands of people come here from all parts of country, specially northern India to pray and seek blessings of Balaji.
Devotees, Onlookers, Shopkeepers, Tourist, Pick pocketers, you can see all kind of people here from all walks of life.
Innova after the cheek-peck with a Jeep.
With two toddlers hanging around me, I get less chance to capture the moments so I try to compensate with words.
You can check more experiences about Mehandipur Balaji here:
There are many decent staying options with ample parking near the Temple premises
(Its always better to google their contact numbers and make an advance booking to avoid any last minute rush. When we inquired, most of them didn’t have even a single vacant room)
Radha Raman Dharamshala
Shri Ram Dharamshala
Sri Krishna Ashram etc to name a few.
So pack your bags and get going. One more thing, The Aarti and Bhog timings keep changing during summers and winters, so plan your trip keeing that in view. You might have to wait for
VIP darshans starts at 10AM. All defense personnel, sick and elderly people can get the entry from here. Also there is a provision for VIP darshans, wherein you pay some extra amount (in thousands) for “arzi” and get a VIP entry. So don’t forget to inquire about it as well.
We have visited this place twice and every time my husband says he feels some positive and supernatural energy with him, and so said my father also. But I didn’t feel any. Seems my sin bucket is too full to get divine blessings 😉