The regular travel time from Mumbai to Shirdi has been slashed down to 3 hours from a whopping 9 hours, thanks to the efforts of Central Railway’s Train 18 alias Vande Bharat Express. That’s exactly how much time it takes if one commutes to Shirdi from Mumbai by car.

The convenient and the time-saving semi high-speed train, will cover 291 kilometres in 3 hours making Shirdi even more popular and extremely accesible among travellers and pilgrims.

While Shirdi today is a major pilgrimage site in Maharashtra, mostly popular with domestic travellers, there’s hope that the introduction of Train 18 is going to attract international travellers as well. The route that it is going to take are mostly via Pune and Daund or Manmad railway stations.

It has been proposed that the train would leave Mumbai early in the morning so that it can do a return journey from Shirdi on the same day.

At present, Train 18 runs between New Delhi and Varanasi, covering 752km in 8 hours. While it has a top speed of 180kmph, it operates on a maximum speed of 160kmph. In fact, there might soon be one running between Mumbai and Delhi too.

Shirdi is a highly revered pilgrimage town located in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. Also known as the ‘Land of Sai,’ the primary attraction here is the shrine of Shirdi Sai Baba. Though the temple remains open from early morning to late in the night, the best time to visit is during the aarti.

However, the town has an incredible lot to offer apart from the temples such as the Dwarkamai Mosque – the only mosque in India to have a temple in its premises, Gurusthan – where Sai Baba was spotted for the first time under a neem tree and Sai Heritage Village – a beautiful theme park for a picnic with family and friends.