When my friend proposed a journey to Puttaparti, I was not really sure, why should I go there? As a devotee, which I was not? Or as a Traveler, which did not seem right? I agreed anyway.
G & I met at KSRTC bus stand at 7:00 AM and the bus took off at 7:30. There are few buses running daily and it would be better to make a reservation. There are Volvo buses running up and down from Bangalore.
We reached Puttaparti at 11:15 AM. During our drive into the village or is it a town? One can get a glance of its richness; a dedicated Runway and helipad, a medical science college, a planetarium, a stadium, two museums, International sports center and schools.
We walked into the Bhajan Mandir. We enquired that next Darshan of Baba would be at 4:00 PM. We then went to a museum on top of a hill. It was good in describing the Indian culture and heritage. University next to the museum was closed. These places close at 12:00 PM.
On the way, is a meditation tree. People write “Sai ram” in a piece of paper and hang it on the tree, which they believe will fulfill their desires.
We then took a walk on the main road. Unfortunately the Planetarium, sport center were all closed.
We next went to a temple on a hill top, nearby. The streets that lead to it are filled with shops selling Tibetans art crafts. The reasons for influence of Tibet are not known to me. The hill top is the best place to catch an excellent view of the entire Puttaparti.
We had food in a nearby restaurant and went to another museum. There are many images and artworks of Baba with creative and sometimes funny collages. I gathered some information from them, that Baba is incarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba and the next incarnation is yet to come.
We then ran to the Bhajan Mandir and had a lot of trouble getting rid of our belongings. The cloak room inside denied to take the bags, which are not allowed into the Mandir. They only take cell phones or smaller items. We handed out the camera and cell phone and decided to leave the bags outside the Mandir for which the volunteers denied. Someone at last suggested that we could leave the bags in a cloak room in Bus stand. We ran back and stored them there.
Mandir was crowded with devotees, patiently waiting for Baba. There is a crowd of foreigners, not sure from where? They do not look British or Americans as they speak a different language. The volunteers there do not scold anyone. They fold their hands to form Namskara and say “Sai ram” and request us while we are misbehaving or not listening to them. This was a nice attitude I noticed among them.
Baba came in a car. He is around 80 now and is unable to walk, I guess. Sitting in the car, he folded his hands to greet all. The seat is automatically detached from the car and ramps down.
We returned back after having the darshan of Baba. Two people sitting behind us, in the bus, were loudly sharing their stories and interaction with Baba. One, a NRI, who gave up Wine, women and wealth to surrender himself to Baba; Other from Kerala, in his broken English tried to tell his story which when traveled from his mind to mouth, lost all the meaning.
To be very frank, I do not believe in worshipping, humans as God. But I have to accept, that Baba is an enlightened soul and has a positive power to influence and inspire so many devotees. This is with no offense to any of his followers, as I think, everyone has a right to do what they believe in. I am happy to have visited the place to witness this sight and even have a chance to see Baba; I liked the good work Baba has been doing; he has built schools, colleges and Hospitals with most modern technology…all for free; which very much serves his mission – “Service to man is service to God.”