Shirdi is that mystical magical town near the holy city of Nasik, close to Mumbai. This hallowed town exudes such intense devotion, that even the casual visitor is bound to be charged with fervour. Shirdi was the abode of the saint Sai Baba, who lived here for eighty years - and died here over eighty years ago. It is said that Sai Baba himself calls his devotees to Shirdi and that his blessings can heal even the deepest wound.
The town is tiny - just 2 square km of main street and a labyrinth of by-lanes - but packs in much passion. Pilgrims throng for a brief "darshan" at Samadhi Mandir, the shrine of Sai Baba where his mortal remains were interred. The queues outside the mandir are endless, the throng inside is maddening, and the devotion intense. Next to the shrine is the peaceful Masjid where Sai Baba spent most of his life. The sacred fire called "dhuni" still burns here and its ash or "udhi" is smeared on devotees. The Chavadi is a small building where Sai Baba used to spend every alternate night.
Pilgrims flock to Shirdi at any time of the year. Shirdi has a dry climate that swings to extremes, from a high of 40° C in May, to a low of 7° C in January. But the monsoon months - June to August - are pleasant, with scanty rains. Though the shrine is open though the week, Thursday is Sai Baba's special day.
The most important festivals and events that are celebrated in Shirdi are Guru Poornima, Dusshera, and Ram Navami. These are the only days when the Samadhi Mandir of Shirdi opens for the whole night. Every Thursday, a palakhi bearing a photograph of the sage is taken out from the temple.
There are several places to see and visit near Shirdi too. Situated around 5 km from Shirdi is Sakori. The place is home to the Upasini Maharaj. Shanisinghnapur is 70 km from Shirdi. A temple devoted to Shani is located here.
Shirdi Sai Baba
Attractions and Places to Visit in Shirdi
Samadhi Mandir Samadhi Mandir of Shri Sai Baba was actually owned by a millionaire from Nagpur and a famous Sai devotee Shreemant Gopalrao. He wanted to keep an idol of Murlidhar here. However, according to the legends, Baba himself became Murlidhar and the temple became the Samadhi Mandir of Baba. The Samadhi of Baba is built with white marble stones. The railings around it are full of ornamental decorations. The idol of Baba is a marvelous statue made up of Italian marble built by Late Balaji Vasant in 1954. The temple has an assembly hall for about 600 devotees. The assembly hall also houses a showcase having various items used by the sage. The first floor of the temple has the pictures depicting the life of the saint. The temple opens on 5 AM with morning prayers and close down at 10 PM with night prayers.
Dwarkamai Situated on the right side of the entrance of the Samadhi Mandir is Dwarkamai, a mosque. This was the place where the sage stayed until the end of his life. Main attraction of the site is the oil paintings of the sage.
Gurusthan The place from where Sai Baba first came to Shirdi in the form of a Bal Yogi (child ascetic) is known as Gurusthan. A temple has been constructed on this site. There is also a small shrine in Gurusthan.
Chavadi At a short distance lies Baba's Chavadi. Baba used to sleep here every alternate day. The Chavadi is divided into two parts. One part of the Chavadi has a large portrait of Baba along with a wooden bed and a white chair belonging to him.
Cottage of Abdul Baba There is a cottage of Abdul Baba, an ardent devotee of Shri Sai Baba, in front of the Chavadi. Photos and various items that were handled by Sai Baba and Abdul Baba are there in the cottage.
Maruti Mandir There is a Maruti Mandir located at some distance from the cottage of Abdul Baba. This mandir was visited by Baba for the sat-sang with Devidas, a Bal yogi, who lived at the Mandir ten to twelve years before Baba arrived. There are also temples of village deities named Shani, Ganapati, and Shankar that are worth visiting.
Lendi Baug At some distance from Gurusthan, there is the Lendi Baug. This garden was made and watered daily by Baba himself. It got its name from a nullah (a drain), which used to flow there. Baba used to come here every morning and afternoon and take rest under a neem tree. Baba dug a pit, 2 feet deep, under the neem tree and kept a deep (a lighting object) lit in that pit. An octagonal deepgriha (lighthouse) called Nanda Deep has been built in marble stone in memory of this place. It constantly burns in a glass box. On one side of the deepgriha is a pipal tree and on the other side is a neem tree. Other sites to visit are Datta Mandir and Khandoba Mandir.
How to Reach Shirdi
By Air Nearest airports are Mumbai (260 km), Pune (185 km), and Aurangabad (125 km). Flights for all the major cities in India and abroad can be taken from Mumbai.
By Rail The nearest railway station is Manmad (60 km) on the Central Railway, which is connected to many parts of the country with express trains. Most of the trains touching Nasik Road railway station also touch Manmad.
By Road Shirdi is very well connected by a network of roads and road transport to all major towns of Maharashtra and surrounding areas.