Situated around 184Kms east of the Arabian seashore in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, Shirdi is a miniature town, which is believed to be the domicile of the great Saint Sai Baba. Based upon the mythical tales, Shirdi is the place where Saint Sai Baba used to subsist till his trance (Samadhi) in 1918. It is one of the mostly visited devout destinations in India where millions of Sai devotees regularly come from all over the globe to pay their reverences.
The sound of tinkles and lightened lamps followed by sacred hymn takes the entire ambience of the temple to a great level of mysticism. Pilgrims flock from all over the globe offering prayers to Sai Baba with this believe that all their worries and perplexities will be transferred to a world of eternal succour and ecstasy.
If touring Shirdi is your next celestial destination, here is what you should know about Shirdi and other sites that can be explored in and around the place.
Best time to Visit:
Millions of pilgrims rush to this holy destination throughout the calendar. However, the footfall of devotees peaks during important festivals that are celebrated here from time-to-time. Some of the key festivals in Shirdi include Holi (in the month of March), Ganesh Chaturthi (in the month of August/ September), Dusshera ((October/November) and Diwali (October/November). The maximum gathering of Sai devotees are witnessed in the month of October when Sai Baba’s death anniversary is venerated. Therefore, the best time to visit here is from August to November when most of the prominent festival takes place in India; and the temperature also comparatively favourable that time. On the other hand, during April to June, the town witnesses extreme summer followed by heavy monsoon.
|4:00 AM||Temple open|
|4:30 AM||Kakad Aarti (Morning)|
|5:00 AM||Bhajan in Saibaba Mandir|
|5.05 AM||Holy Bath of Shri Sai Baba (Mangal Snaan) in Samadhi Mandir|
|5:35 AM||Aarti “Shirdi Majhe Pandharpur”|
|5:40 AM||Darshan begins in Samadhi Mandir|
|9:00 AM||Abhishek Pooja|
|10:30 AM||Satyanarayana Pooja|
|11:30 AM||Dhuni Pooja with rice and ghee in Dwarkamai|
|12:00 PM||Mid day Aarti|
|4:00 PM||Pothi (Devotional reading/Study) in Samadhi Mandir|
|10:30 PM||Shej (Night) Aarti|
|11:15 PM||Samadhi Mandir closes after night Aarti|
Places to Visit:
Shirdi encircles some distinguished sightseer destinations of Maharashtra. Here’s the key attraction that you must explore during your divine trip to Shirdi:
# Temple of Shri Sai Baba Sansthan
One of the significant and most scared shrines dedicated to Sai Baba is Sansthan. The shrine authority manages all the pilgrims in an organized manner facilitating them with Sai darshan, prashad distribution, dining hall and Bhakta Niwas. There are separate counters for donations and railway booking as well. Besides, diverse ranges of amusement activities like Ferris wheel, Alien Planet, Wave Pool and Thrillarium can also be experienced here.
Situated around 15Kms away from the main town of Shirdi in Kopargaon, Gurusthan is the place where Sai Baba first appeared to the world at the age of 16 and spent most of his time. Gurusthan is positioned under a Neem tree where the tomb of Baba’s preceptor (Guru) is located. Therefore, this place is named as Gurusthan depicting the seat of his teacher (a place of the Guru). Today, in the Gurusthan premise you can also notice a Shivalinga, statuette of Sai Baba and marble padukas on a pedestal. You can visit here between 5AM to 10PM, and the entry is absolutely free. If you head towards Gurusthan from the main shrine complex of Sai Baba, this place is located at a walking distance.
As the name suggests, this is the place where the body of great saint Sai Baba was put into trance. There is a display area in Samadhi Mandir where all the articles used by Baba are preserved. On visiting the first floor, you will come across various interesting paintings depicting the life of Saint Sai. A statue of Sai Baba is also positioned within the temple premise.
This holy shrine was structured using white marble stones and surrounded by railings that are embellished with dazzling accessories of worship. Samadhi Mandir also boasts a spacious assemblage with a capacity of accommodating more than 500 devotees. You can visit Samadhi Mandir from 5AM to 10PM. During your visit you can witness the pious rituals like pooja, abhishek and aarti that are performed here four times a day followed by religious hymns.
This is one of the important sacred attractions that you must explore while touring Shirdi. Though, this temple was built in honour of deity Shiva. However, it is believed that the pastor of this Temple first observed the great saint Sai in front of the temple and he further welcomed the great Saint. Post this incident, people started referring the saint as Sai Baba, and this is how Khandoba Temple became a popular attraction for Sai pilgrims.
Khandoba Temple is visited by ample of Shiva devotees, and it takes more than an hour to visit and complete the entire rituals in this temple. There are three idols of Maasai Devi, Khandob and Banai Devi inside the temple. Apart from these three idols, a shrine of Sai can also be spotted outside the temple. Khandoba Temple is open all day a week and you can visit here from 5AM to 10PM.
As the name suggests, this temple is dedicated to deity Shanidev, and it is located around 65Kms away from Shirdi. Shani Shingnapur is a popular religious place in Maharashtra visited by several devotees from various parts of the country. One of the significant attractions of entire Shani Shingnapur terrain is that no doors are there at any of the residences. It is believed that Lord Shanidev always safeguards all the people around the temple from all evils.
On entering the temple, you will notice a 5 feet high black rock on an open raised area. Every Saturday various devotees flock here to pay their highest reverence to Lord Shanidev. Visitors need to enter the temple premise after taking bath.
#Dixit Wada Museum
Located in the environs of the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan trust, Dixit Wada Museum was incorporated times back in 1911 by Kakasaheb Dixit. It is said that this museum was established with Baba’s permission and was named after the surname of Kakasaheb. If you want to explore some epoch pictures of Saint Sai Baba, Dixit Wada Museum is a must visit. The museum exhibits an array of Baba’s personal belongings, his pictures with followers and many other sacred articles related to Baba. Dixit Wada Museum can be visited throughout the week from 10AM to 6PM. This is an offbeat experience for all Sai devotees.
Situated adjacent to Dwarkamai mosque, Chavadi is an eminent site to be explored. It is said that at this place Baba used to reside during his last years. The word ‘Chavadi’ indicates village office, which has been transformed now into a holy shrine of Sai Baba. Inside the shrine, you can observe a bed where the body of the saint was bathed after his demise. Devotees rush here on every Thursday when, a pageant takes place carrying the idol and sacred bed of the saint inside a palanquin. Chavadi is certainly a must visit while touring Shirdi.
Probably one of the sacred treasures of Shirdi is Dwarkamai. This is a holy mosque representing courage of acceptance and miscellany of devotional expression. Everyday lots of Sai followers come to this mosque kneeing before Baba’s picture seeking his blessings. Devotees are also seen here reading sacred books, chanting Baba’s name and praying before the dhuni. Because of its spiritual diversity, the structural presence of this mosque is often referred as the abode of God on earth. It is said that few devotees wanted to refurbish the mosque, but the saint was reluctant. The reason being, Baba used to say that merely going inside the mosque will fulfil their wishes, and for that refurnishing the entire mosque is not required.
If you want to take home some souvenirs including statues, images, paintings, trinkets, Sai Satcharitra and Bibhuti (ashes) of Sai Baba, visiting the Temple Road in Kopargaon is must. Several shops also you will find there exhibiting many articles associated with the great saint.
Apart from the above cites places, one can also plan touring few other adjoining locations like Jangli Maharaj Ashram, Abdul Baba cottage, Upasani Maharaj Ashram and Lendi Baug.
Note: In the words of Sai Baba, all are equal and we should always help the needy and poor. He is often remembered for the meaningful words ‘sab ka maalik ek hai’. Sai Baba used to beg for food and money, and in return the donor used to get his blessings. There are many shops in Shirdi where various cloths are sold at pocket-friendly prices. You can also buy such cloths and donate the same to the beggars near the temples.
Things to Eat/Drink:
Shirdi is laid out with several eateries offering you a variety of Maharashtrian, South Indian, continental and Gujarati cuisines. Being a major pilgrimage, most of the restaurants in Shirdi serve vegetarian platters at very reasonable charges. You can also have fresh fruits like Pomegranate and Guava that are sold by most of the local vendor near the temple premise. For drink, many local stores are available here offering drinking water, coconut water and cold drinks. However, drinking/carrying alcohol is rigid in temple premises. Hence, you can’t expect availability of liquor in Shirdi.
How to Go:
Being one of the major pilgrimage centres in India, getting there is not a matter of concern for Sai worshipers. Devotees can reach Shirdi from various parts of the country through the following modes of transport:
By Air: Though, Shirdi has no airport, yet the place can be visited quite conveniently through some of the nearby airports located in Mumbai, Pune, Nasik and Aurangabad. However, the nearest airports are Mumbai and Pune. These airports are well-connected to all major cities of India. Once you reach the airport, hire a cab or taxi to travel further. From Mumbai airport, it will take around four and half hours time to reach Shirdi by road. On the other hand, from Pune airport the road journey is about 4-5 hours.
By Train: Located within 10Kms reach from the temple of Sai, the nearest railhead is Shirdi Railway Station, which connects all important cities including Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Nasik etc. If you have the reservation till Kopargaon, Nasik and Manmad railway station, you will get various cabs and taxis from these railway stations to reach Shirdi comfortably. In addition, sharing van is also available from these places. The taxi fare from Kopargaon to Shirdi is somewhere between INR200-INR300 and on sharing van it is like INR 20-INR30/person. The taxi charge from Nasik to Shirdi is somewhere between INR 800-INR 1000 and on sharing van or bus it is like INR 90-INR 100/person. Similarly from Manmad, taxi fare to reach Shirdi is somewhere between INR 500-INR 800 and on sharing van or bus it is like INR 60-INR 80/person.
By Road: The roadway connectivity between Shirdi and its adjoining cities is frequent. If you travel from Mumbai via Eastern Express Highway the distance is about 250Kms. If you are travelling from Ahmednagar via Highway No.10 crossing the Ahmednagar-Manmad route, the distance is merely 84Kms. From Kopargaon, the distance to reach Shirdi is about 15Kms. On the other hand, from the places like Nashik and Kolhapur the distance to reach Shirdi is about 90Kms and 410Kms respectively. From Pune, the distance is around 200Kms consuming more than 4hours time to reach Shirdi. Several regular buses are also there from different cities in Maharashtra to reach Shirdi.
Places to Stay:
Presence of several holy shrines and religious attractions has already made Shirdi one of the preferred pilgrimages for Sai devotees. Thus, plenty of worshipers visit this place from all over the globe. Keeping in mind the mounting footfalls of pilgrims, various Niwases, Dharmashalas and hotels are established here ranging from INR 700 to INR 3,000 and more.
Besides, one more comfortable option is Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust Reception Centre, which is situated near S T Bus Stand. Once you reach there, register your name in the reception counter of this trust and book a reasonable accommodation. The charges are quite affordable at Shri Sai Baba Sansthan ranging from INR 50 to INR 1000.
In order to cater you a relaxing stay at Shirdi, some of the comfy accommodations are listed here:
#Hotel Sai Rajaram Palace
Nagar- Manmad Highway, New Ring Road,
Tal. Rahata, Dist. Ahmadnagar. Shirdi India 423109
#Hotel Shraddha Inn
Pimpalwadi Road, Shirdi
#Shri Sainivas Mega Dharmashala
Opp. Shiva Temple, Near Sri Sai Aasram 1000 Rooms,
Manmad Nagar Road,
Shirdi, Maharashtra 423109
#Shradha Saburi Palace
Survey No.5, Vijaya Bank Lane, Near Vijaya Bank,
Shirdi, Maharashtra 423109
#Sai Bhakta Niwas
Manmad Road, Shirdi,
#Hotel Sai Leela
No. 9/5A, Pimpalwadi Road, Ahmednagar District,
Shirdi, Maharashtra 423109
#St. Laurn Hotel, Shirdi
S. No. 5/19, Rui Shiv Road,
Shirdi Shirdi India 423109
#Shirdi Hotel Sai Sahavas
Opp. Mahalaxmi Temple Lane, Off Pimplewadi Road,
2 minutes from Sai Mandir,
Shirdi – 423109, Maharashtra, India
If you are also one of the Sai worshiper seeking Baba’s blessing, plan your holy trip to Shirdi. Don’t forget to visit Wada Museum and take home some manuscript that may help you to explore some unknown facts about Shirdi Sai Baba. After paying your deepest reverence to the great saint, you may further enrich your plan visiting few more proximate locations like Ajantha and Ellora caves, Nagpur, Solapur, Dhule, Igatpuri, and Daman.