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. The 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 favorite is Gulshan Dhaba, although you have plenty of options for Dhabas to Fancy Restaurants in this stretch. Chokhi Dhani, Shukdev Dhaba, Sagar Ratna, Haveli, your taste buds will indeed 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 immaculate. Our B’fast consisted of Tandoori stuffed paranthas 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 add to the tension. We reached Delhi border at 10 AM. Delhi to Gurgaon traffic was slow but moving. Actual travel voes start once you cross 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. Still, while returning 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 the 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 the Gurgaon-Bhiwari stretch. Bhiwari is touted as the next Gurgaon, and the rampant construction on both sides on the roads proves this notion right. Although we reach Alwar at 4 PM, 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. It’s pretty hot and humid in Rajasthan, so that 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. After going there, I checked google maps. I 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, and it is a new road with minimal traffic and superb view. I enjoyed driving there.
The best time to visit Balaji, according to locals, is during Feb and March. Tuesday and Saturday are holy days of Balaji; hence people throng in thousands. The queues start from 2 km 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 it’s very difficult for kids and older 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 the ground. So Locals say that Wednesday & Thursday are the better days to visit as people are comparatively less.
If you are going by your vehicle, try to park it in a far-off area or the first parking you get. The road to the Temple is very crowded and narrow, and the chances are good that you may get few scratches on your car along the way Like we did. Some lessons are learned the hard way (Sob Sob). Disclaimer: I was not behind the wheels at the time of the incident. You can hire an auto-rickshaw, cycle-rickshaw, or a jeep as per your comfort. So coming again on the massive 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/Garden opposite Rest House. It is an exciting place with lots of people hanging around and a picturesque view. You also get to listen to devotional songs in the evening.
Entrance of the Company Bagh.
People and dogs were enjoying themselves equally.
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 welcome you with open manholes…err hands.
People were standing in the queue for at least 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 the country, especially northern India, to pray and seek the blessings of Balaji.
Devotees, Onlookers, Shopkeepers, tourists, Pick picketers, you can see all kinds 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:
Photography Arts and Animation
There are many decent staying options with ample parking near the Temple premises
(It’s 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 keeping that in view. You might have to wait for
VIP darshans start at 10 AM. All defense personnel, sick, and older adults can get the entry form 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, my father also says. But I didn’t feel any. It seems my sin bucket is too full to get divine blessings 😉