The holy city of Shirdi lies in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra and is an important tourist and pilgrim spot. The city has been the abode of Sri Sai Baba, an Indian guru who is revered by both Hindus and Muslims.He is believed to have sojourned here from 1838 till his death in 1918. The place where Sai Baba came to Shirdi as a Bal Yogi is known as Gurusthan.
Shirdi is a devotional center that highlights three major festivals, Ram Navmi, Guru Purnima and Shirdi Vijay Dashmi. The best time to visit this holy hamlet is from the months of June to August as during this time the monsoon is in full swing, making the town cool and comfortable to stay.
The most important attraction in Shirdi is the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple. Samadi Mandir and Shani Shingnapur are other places to interest.
The town of Shirdi is easily accessible from all over the country via roads. Of recent, trains services have also began operating from the different parts of the country for Shirdi. The state government has also announced the city to have its own airport by the year 2012.
When To Go
Shirdi experiences temperate climate throughout the year. But the best time to visit is from June to March.
October to March offers pleasant climate and ideal for sightseeing apart from temple (Ashram) visit. June to September offers moderate climate and good for temple visit. April and May are bit hot, not suitable for outings but can spend time in visiting the temple. Wear loose cotton garments to have comfort.
- Winters (December to February) have a maximum and minimum temperature of 34°C and 8°C, most of the travelers prefer this period. It is a good time for Shirdi tourism.
- Summers (March to May) have maximum and minimum temperatures of 40°C and 20°C, typically people avoid visiting during the hot months of April and May.
- Monsoons (June to August) offer scanty rainfalls and may be opted for sightseeing and Ashram visit.
Travel within city
Shirdi is the home of the Sri Sai Baba temple and is also known for its religious significance. There are helicopter services to Shirdi from many places in Maharashtra. However the helipad is owned by the Sai Baba Sansthan trust and permission is required to land here. The main temple in only a ten minute journey from the railway station and the Sai Baba trust operates shuttle services for its guests. There are also buses and taxis that are available from the Shirdi railway station. Tourists can also reach the Manmad railway station which is 55 km from the town.
There are taxis available from the station and they take an hour to reach the town. They usually charge around Rs 400 for the trip.
Buses are the main mode of transport within the town. There are frequent bus services from the railway station and also around the other parts of the town to the main areas of interest. Most of the temples and pilgrimage sites can be reached using buses.
Cabs can also be hired from Shirdi and they charge between Rs 900 to 1500 per day depending on the car. Local cab agencies also provide A/C cars which is more expensive than ordinary cabs.
A millionaire from Nagour and an ardent devotee of Sai Baba owned the Samadhi Mandir. He wanted to install an idol of Murlidhar in the temple. Legend has it that the Baba himself became Murlidhar and the temple became Samadhi Mandir. The idol of Baba is made of Italian marble which was built by Late Balaji Vasant in 1954.
Baba’s Samadhi is built with white marble stones. The rails close to it are full of ornamental decorations.
The temple is open from 5 am in the morning with prayers and it is closed at 10 pm with prayers.
This village is an interesting village as none of the houses have doors. The belief of the villagers is that their Lord Shaneshwara will protect them from all evil. This includes robbery and theft. The hamlet is about 65 km from Shirdi.
The image of the lord is large and is made of black stone. Only male devotees are permitted to worship in the temple. The devotees should first take bath in the public bathrooms and then pray with wet dhotis without any upper garment.
The temple is open for worship from 5 am to 10 pm.
Adul Baba Cottage
Adul Babba is one of Baba’s most fervent followers. The cottage has some interesting memoirs. The cottage is small and green colored. The cottage is located opposite the Chavadi.
The main room of the house has exhibits of Baba with Abdul. Also Baba can be seen with Swami Chinmayanand in a photograph. There also can be seen many more rare articles.
There is an alley behind Abdul Baba’s house which leads to Laxmibai Shinde’s house. Marthand a place where Baba installed a Ganesha statue can also be reached through the alley.
The cottage can be visited any time between 7 am to 10 pm.
During the last decade of Sai Baba’s life, he used to spend alternate nights at Chavadi. Thus the place became very important. Baba used to be taken in Procession from Dwarkamai to Chavadi.
Even today procession is taken on every Thursdays. The depiction of Sai Baba, which was placed on a silver stool in the right side of the Chavadi is now placed near his Samadhi. Also Baba’s footwear is placed near Baba’s Samadhi.
The Chavadi is divided into two. One part of the Chavadi has a large portraiture of Baba. It also contains a wooden bed and a white chair which belongs to Baba.
Dixit Wada Museum
The Dixit Wada Museum is located at the center of the Sansthan complex. It is a charming and compact museum. The museum contains rare black and white photographs of Sai Baba. Baba’s Kafni that is long robes and his leather padukas and his smoking pipe are also on display. Other things which can be seen at the museum are gramophone records, water tumblers, cooking utensils and bathing stone which were used by Baba.
The museum is open for public to visit from 10 am to 6 pm.
Dwarkamai mosque is located on the right side of the entrance of the Samadhi Mandir. The saint stayed in this place till his end. The place has many oil paintings of the saint. These paintings are the main attraction.
Dwarkamai is divided into two levels. The first level contains a portrait of Baba and a big stone on which the saint used to sit. The level has two rooms. One room has a chariot and the other has a palkhi.
The second level has a square stool which is made of stone. The stool was used by Baba when he used to have his bath.
Gurusthan is a place where Sai Baba was visible to the world for the first time. He was 16 years old then. There is a Neem tree which is quiet famous. It is the Margosa which is referred to in ‘Sai Sat-Charitra’. The devotees believe that if they burn incense sticks at Gurusthan they will be cured of their ailments.
There is a little enshrine in Gurusthan. On a lifted platform of this enshrine a big portraiture of Baba is laid. On the side Baba’s marble statue is placed. The Gurusthan temple no longer exists. It has been removed to give way for the Margosa to grow.
Its open 5 am to 10 pm.
House of Laxmibai Shinde
Right from the beginning of his life Sai Baba had a habit of begging food from his neighborhood. Baba remembered the services that Laxmibai bestowed on him. Before Baba left his body, he gave Laxmibai Shinde a 5 rupee note. Then he gave Laxmi four rupees making the total to Rs 9. The figure indicates the nine types of devotion which is described in chapter 21.
Through this act Baba brought to the notice of Laxmibai Shinde the importance of the nine characteristics of a good disciple. Baba had given Laxmibai Rs 9 many times but the last gift of Rs 9 by Baba is always remembered.
Shri Sai Baba Sansthan
Shri Sai Baba Sansthan is the ruling and administrative body of Shri Saibaba’s Samadhi. They are also in charge of all other temples in the premises of the Sansthan. The governing body is devoted towards the development of Shirdi village.
The Sansthan is the authorised body which controls and manages the day to day actions of the Shri Saibaba Samadhi Temple.
In 1922, the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan was instituted. The Sansthan was founded to convey out the stately service of Sai Baba. In the year 1990 a building to fit 3500 devotees were constructed. The building has 560 rooms and two halls.
Thursday Palki Procession
During the days when Shri Sai Baba was living in Dwarkamai Masjid, he used to sleep in Chawri. This was on every alternate night between the years 1910 to 1918. This visit at Chawri on every alternate night was prefaced by a ‘palki’ progress. The procession was carried out with all royal appurtenances and Baba was accompanied from Dawakamai to Chawri.
Even now this palki procession continues with the same excitement and veneration. The procession starts from the Samadhi Mandir and proceeds to Dwarkamai Masjid from where it goes to Chawri and returns Samadhi Mandir. After the procession, Shej Aarti is offered to Shri Sai Baba.
Jangli Maharaj Ashram
The Jangli Maharaj Ashram is located on the Shirdi-Manmad State Highway. Jangli Maharaj Ashram is about seven kilometers from Shirdi. Spiritual guru Om Gurudev runs the ashram. The ashram has a co-educational residential school for children.
Jangli Maharaj Ashram conducts meditation classes and various other religious and educational fields regularly. On a day before the full moon day a program called Anugraha is arranged. The holy meeting goes on throughout the night in the presence of Sadguru Janglidas Maharaj.
The visitors are allowed to visit the Ashram from 7 am – 10 pm.
Khandoba Mandir is near Shri Sainath Hospital. Khandoba is the presiding deity of the village. The Khandoba Temple is situated on the main road. The temple has icons of Khandoba, Banai and Mhalsai.
At Khandoba in Shirdi, Baba came along with a marriage party and he set his foot under a banyan tree. The priest at the temple welcomes Baba by saying "Aao Sai". The fakir without a name began to be called "Sai Baba" from then. Baba asked Upasani Baba to stay in the temple for some time doing nothing.
The temple is open for visitors from 5 am to 10 pm.
Lendibagh is located on the Shirdi-Manmad State Highway. Baba used to spend a lot of time in the garden. This garden is known as Lendibagh. The garden is now beautifully decorated.
There is a stone in Dwarakamai which was brought from Lendibagh. Legend says that this stone was used by the villagers to wash clothes. But one day they saw Baba sitting on it. Thus the stone came to Dwarakamai and is held as holy.
At Lendibagh there is an Akhand deep meaning continuously burning lamp. It glows under the pipal tree which Baba had planted.
The garden is open 24 hours for visitors.
Upasani Maharaj Ashram
The Upasani Maharaj Ashram is situated off the Shirdi-Ahmednagar State Highway. It is the ashram of a great saint of the 20th century. Upasani Maharaj was an ardent disciple of Shri Sai Baba.
The Ashram of Upasani Maharaj is near Shirdi. There were three spiritual heirs of the Maharaj. The samadhi of the Maharaj and the samadhi of one of his disciples is placed inside the ashram. Upasani Majaraj is considered a perfect master. One of his disciples Avtar Mehar Baba called Upasani Maharaj the best and the perfect master.
The Ashram is open for visitors from 5 in the morning to 10 in the night.