Shirdi, a small town near Nashik in Maharashtra, is the place where Shri Sai Baba is believed to have stayed. The air here has a unique mystic quality. One feels totally fresh and relaxed in this part of the country. It gives a chance to everyone, who visits this place, to reflect inside and realize as to who and what they are.
Shri Sai Baba came to this place with a marriage procession. He became very much apart of the people living in this place and began to help them, solve their problems, cure their diseases etc. He tried to spread happiness, content and satisfaction around him. With time, he became an inevitable part of them. People had immense faith in him and his teachings. They worshipped him and loved him dearly.
Shirdi is located at a distance of 296 Km from Mumbai city of India. Depending on the starting point of the destination, one can have a variety of options to reach this beautiful place.
From Mumbai, one can hire a cab or drive down. However, for people commuting via railways, the nearest Railway station is Kopargaon, 15 Kms on Manmal Daund section of Central railways. After getting down on this station ( Kopargaon ), they can take a bus or a taxi to reach the destination.
The place is surrounded by hills, which ensures that the temperature remains on a lower scale, even during the day time.
It is a small, beautiful place. The Centre of attraction is Shri Sai Baba’s temple, which has disciples coming from all the over the world, all round the year. The temple is surrounded by local residents, hotels, motels, restaurants etc.
One would find all sorts of cuisines here because there is a huge mix of culture. Not to forget, just outside the temple, a Dhaba cum restaurant, Sher-e-Punjab, which serves really delicious mouth watering food . Yummy !!!
Please note that despite the fact that this place provides its people, with peaceful, tranquil serene atmosphere, it is no less than a modern day city. It is well developed and has a good connection of roadways with provision of all the modern facilities. Day in and day out, the city welcomes many tourists and accommodates them so that they can have a pleasant journey. During the day, there is jostling around in the market areas, a lot of hustle – bustle on the roads. But at night, the cool breeze is accompanied with a pin drop silence. This is evident from the fact that the early morning Aarti in the temple echoes throughout the city. One can hear every beat clearly. It is simply a Wow experience for all those of you who love peace.
There are TV channels dedicated solely to show the happenings in the temple through out the day.
About the temple :
The whole area of the temple is divided in different areas, each area having its own significance. At the entrance, one would find many small shops and vendors selling Puja Thallis, Flowers, Coconuts etc. to be given inside the temple.
Samadhi Mandir, the main temple, has a huge hall that can accommodate around 600 people at once. The temple has an idol of Baba sitting on a throne, made of Italian Marble. Above this statue one would find a silver coloured open umbrella. Just ahead of the statue, Baba’s Samadhi is located. It is made of white marble and is surrounded by a silver railing. On the right hand side of the enterance, a huge showcase is made which displays the things used by Baba. The temple opens its doors at 5 o’ clock in the morning with Bhoopali, a morning song. The idol is then given a bath which symbolizes the fact that Baba is taking a bath. The doors are closed at 10 o’clock in the night, after Shej arati is been sung.
Baba stayed at Dwarkamai throughout the time he was in Shirdi. It is situated on the right side of the entrance of Samadhi Mandir. It is here that he sat and solved the problems of the poor, cured the sick, helped the needy and worked and loved his people. Sources in Shirdi tell us that before Baba’s arrival in Shridhi, Dwarkamai was an old mosque in a dilapidated condition. Baba turned it into Dwarkamai and proved that God is one.
Dwarkamai is divided in to two levels. The first level has two rooms. In one room a chariot is kept, whereas in the other room a palkhi is been preserved. Dwarkamai also has a huge portrait of Baba and the stone on which he used to sit is kept.
The second level of Dwarkamai is where Baba used to take bath. A square stool of stone is made. The level also has an oil painting which shows that Baba is sitting on a carved wooden shrine. Also, it is here that they have preserved the wooden vessel called Kolamba, that Baba used to keep the Bhiksha that was brought from the village.
There is a neem tree in Shirdi. Baba was first spotted sitting under this tree. This place was the named as the Gurusthan. There is a small shrine in Gurusthan which contains Baba’s portrait and marble statue. Along with these, one would also find Shivling and the Nandi and the photos of the twelve Jyotirlingas.
The place where baba used to sleep every alternate day is called Chavadi. The place has a large portrait of Baba, a wooden bed and a white chair that belonged to Baba. The palce is divided into two parts.
At some distance, there are temples of village deities named Shani, Ganapati, and Shankar to be visited.
Further ahead, there is a Lendi Baug, which is located at some distance from Gurusthan. Baug means garden / park. This Baug was made and watered daily by Baba himself. Sources , such as Shirdi web page, tell us that Baba used to come here every morning and afternoon and take rest under a Neem tree. Further more, it also states that Baba had dug a pit, 2 feet deep, under the Neem tree and kept a Deep lit in that pit. One octangular Deepgriha 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 Peepal tree and on the other side is a Neem tree.
Shyamsundar was a horse that belonged to Baba. The horse used to bow to him. A Datta Mandir has been constructed which contains the samadhi of Shyamsunder.
Not to forget, is the Khanoba mandir on the main road, just outside the temple. It was here that the Poojari Mahalsapati said “ Aao Sai” and welcomed Baba, when Baba came to Shirdi for the first time.
One thing that I wish to mention is that of the Parshad that one gets in the temple. The sweets are really good. However, if you wish take some extra of it, for those who are not present there or for later usage, you can pay and buy it, too. The revenue generated is used for the maintenance of this huge temple and to construct sites that can bring ease and comfort to the devotees and the visitors. Please note that it is not binding for all to buy it. One has an option of whether to buy it or not.
Baba always preached that there is only One God – “ Sabka Malik Aek.” During the time he spent in Shirdi, he worked hard for the people. Every action of his, whatever and for whosoever it may be, was filled with immense love and affection. He was one of the souls that God had sent on Earth, to teach us to love and follow the path of the Divine.
When in Shirdi, anyone, irrespective of the fact whether one is a Baba’s disciple or not, feels protected with Baba’s presence around. Such is the magic of the place. There are many tales that depict Baba’s miracles. With every detail one hears or sees, the faith and love within him for Baba keeps on increasing and strengthening
In short, it is a perfect blend of a religious place and a modern day city.
[Image courtesy: http://www.hamaresai.org/shirdisai/Shirdi_Saibaba.JPG]