Every Thursday morning and evening, 3rd Main Road in Cambridge Layout, Halasuru (Ulsoor) is a beehive of activity thanks to the presence of the Shirdi Sai Baba Mandir at the centre of the road. Thursday being an auspicious day to visit a Sai Baba Temple, thousands of devotees in the vicinity of the temple and surrounding localities, throng the place to have a darshan of Baba. It goes without saying that Shirdi Sai Baba, the famous saint who lived in Shirdi, Maharashtra during the late 19th and early 20th century, has an astronomical number of devotees even today.
The many sevaks (volunteers) at the temple ensure that the crowds disperse fast. In this way, people who visit the temple do not leave disappointed as each and every one gets to have a darshan of Baba. A lot of devotees also perform special puja on Thursday and there is a lot of prasad offered.
Unlike at many temples you do not have to worry about losing your footwear. There is a footwear stand manned by sevaks who very enthusiastically go about taking your footwear and handing the token and every now and then chant “Sai Ram”. Thursday is also a day of great business for vendors and shops in the vicinity. The flower vendors do brisk business. A lot of them walk around beckoning you to buy a garland, “Madam, 10 rupees, only 10 rupees”. The many flower sellers with their garlands paint a colourful picture on the road alongside the temple. Vying for attention with the flower sellers are the souvenir and idol sellers selling calendars, books, idols, chains, key chains, photos, photo frames, incense sticks and more. There are a lot of hungry mouths too who move around in the hope of getting something to eat or at least some money.
Some of the devotees also drop in at the Ganesh Temple which is a stone’s throw from Baba’s mandir.
Like the many vendors and flower sellers, shops on 3rd Main Road also have a good day. One of them is the Om Sai Skanda Dosa Camp. The tiny eatery offers delicious treats like Plain Dosa, Masala Dosa, Bath Masala Dosa, Onion Dosa, Paper Dosa, Paper Masala Dosa, Thatte Idly and more. My favourite here is the paper dosa. You can relish these treats with a generous serving of chutney or sambar, standing comfortably on the pavement.
Lovers of handicrafts will love visiting the Jute Cottage nearby. A great place to shop for gift items, Jute Cottage has on its shelves, bags of various hues, jewellery, jewellery boxes, wall hangings, statuettes, key chains, trinkets and brick-a-brac. On my last visit here, what caught my eyes most were a bullock cart and a porcelain statue of Psy.
Foodworld and a Lassi joint across the road also draw a lot of people.
And like most busy roads, this one too is dotted with many novelty stores and sweet shops.
I look forward to more Thursday darshans of Sai Baba, plates of dosas and of course go gaga again and again over handicrafts.