SHIRDI

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Location : Kopargam Taluk In Ahmadnagar District, Maharashtra
Presiding Deity: Sai Baba



Shiridi is a small village in Kopargam taluk, in Ahmadnagar district of the Maharastra State. Shirdi is a very sacred, powerful and important place of pilgrimage in India. Shirdi is about 285-km and 6 hours drive from Mumbai (Bombay).

Shirdi was a sleepy little village, tucked away in the interiors of Maharashtra. An old sage called Sai Baba lived in the village who was their mentor and prophet. Even today the last few surviving elders of the village vividly recall the miraculous wonders of the sage. He died in 1918 leaving behind grieving villagers.

After his death Sai Baba's fame has spread far and wide. His devotees are scattered all over the world. They regularly visit Shirdi to pay their homage to this great Saint. Sai Baba's shrine has been incorporated as one of the holy places in the world's map of pilgrimage. Sai Baba preached no particular religion. In fact, he believed in and respected all religions.

Samadhi Temple

Samadhi Temple was started during the lifetime of Sai Baba, with a view to having a temple of Sri Krishna but later when the construction was almost complete, Sai Baba said that he would stay over there.

So after Sai Baba attained Nirvana (eternal peace) His mortal remains were buried at the place. The white marble pavement of the Samadhi, which is seen now, was made afterwards. In 1954 the marble statue prepared by sculptor Sri Talini of Mumbai was installed by the side of the Samadhi. There is a spacious hall in front of the Samadhi, which is paved with marble tiles.

The hall is decorated with photos, of the saints and devotees of Sai Baba. After entering the hall one can see the statue of Sai Baba, in a sitting position. Devotees can have a look at the articles used by Sai Baba exhibited in a room, on the left side of the hall. There is a cellar below the room on the right side where valuables are kept. There is gallery and several rooms on the first floor.

Dwarkamayee Masjid

Baba lived Dwarkamayee Masjid for almost for 60 years. Sai Baba named this old Masjid as Dwarka Mai. During the day he used to sit on a big stone, which is still preserved. Once Baba said to His devotee, " This is Dwarawathi, who ever steps here will get health, and happiness and he will be freed from all difficulties". There used to be no doors to Dwarakamayi and Baba never spoke to any one in secret.

A portrait of Sai Baba, painted during His lifetime, is also kept here. One can see the sacred dhuni (fire) kindled by Sai Baba kept burning since then in front of the portrait. A grinding stone, a bathing stone, a wooden pillar, chulha (stove), padukas (slippers) and Tuls (Holy Basil) Vrindavan, which were used by Sai Baba are all maintained here. Rath (carriage) and the pallanquin are also kept here in a small room.

Chavadi

Towards the east of Dwarkamai there is a place called Chavadi where Sai Baba used to visit every alternate night. A number of portraits of deities are exhibited here since the days of Sai Baba. A wooden plank and a wheel chair brought for Baba but never used by Him are exhibited here.

Gurusthan

It is a place where Sai Baba used to sit under a neem (margosa) tree, leaves of which lost their bitterness due to the grace of Sai Baba. One can find a pot in front of the temple where incense is burnt day and night, wherein Lord Shivaa's pindi and Nandi are installed and padukas of Lord Sai Baba are also kept.

Lendibag And Nandadeep

Sai Baba dug a well here from which he used to take out drinking water. Now the Lendi nalla is filled with waterand a garden is laid there. A Nandadeep lamp is kept burning there since the day of Sai Baba, who used to sit here on a par (stone) near the Nandadeep, below the neem tree. Dattatreya (the primordial guru) Temple has been built in the garden in front of the Ashwattha tree.

The Samadhi of the horse Shamsunder, who used to bow down to Sai Baba and thereafter to the Samadhi daily, till its death is found here. Few Samadhis of Baba's devotees like Abdul Baba, Nanavalli, Bhau Maharaj and Tatya are found at the entrance of the Lendibag.

Khandoba Temple

A small temple called Khandoba dedicated to Lord Shivaa is situated on the Ahmednagar-Kopargaon road. Khandoba is said to be the presiding deity of the village. When Baba came to Shiridi, second time with a marriage party, He got down from bullock cart here. It was at this temple that Sri Mahalsapati, the priest of the temple first greeted Sai Baba as "Ya, Sai" (welcome Sai). The nameless fakir began to be called "Sai Baba" from that time.

Mahadev, Shani And Ganesh Temples

Devotees can visit the three temples of Mahadev, Shani and Ganesh built in a line. The Mahadev Temple is a very old temple, which houses a statue of a tiger installed behind the Nandi. There is a dhuni similar to that found in Dwarkamayee Masjid in the Shani Temple. The Ganesh Temple is also very old. There are the Keshav Temple and Mangal Karyalaya, built in recent years beyond the road on the eastern side.

Pujas

At 5.15 am the Kakad Aarti or the early morning worship and prayer is performed in the main sanctum where Baba's body has been entombed. Later on the Samadhi and the idol are washed ceremonially and everyday from 6.00 am to 7.00 am the devotional songs on Sai are played. Then the Abhishek (bathing of the deity) begins at 7.30 a.m. The noon Aarti (mid-day prayer) takes place exactly at noon.

There is a break after this Aarti until the programme of singing, Bhajan and Kirtan (devotional songs) in the afternoon. There is Aarti again at 6.30 p.m. (sunset prayer). Then there is Kirtan or Bhajan till 10 p.m. and the last Aarti called the Shej-Aarti (night prayer) takes place at 10 p.m. thereafter Lord Sri Sai Baba is deemed to have gone to sleep as the devotees lovingly treat Him as a father.

On Thursdays, there is a procession of the Palki (Baba's carriage) and the Padukas (Baba's slippers) at night and five gunshots are fired at the time of the procession. Loudspeakers are arranged at the time of the aarti and on festival days.

HOW TO GET THERE

Rail: The important railway station is at Kopergaon, through which few trains connecting major cities pass. A number of trains from Mumbai and Delhi also pass through Manmad station, which is another nearest place from where devotees can access Shiridi.

Road: One can access this holy place easily, as it is a well-developed town connected by bus routes. Shirdi is only about 58-kms from Manmad, buses and taxis are easily available to reach there.

WHERE TO STAY

The Shirdi Sai Sansthan provides boarding and lodging facilities but since large number of devotees throng Shiridi, especially on Thursdays one can find it difficult to get accommodation. But there are good hotels, which cater to the needs of all classes of devotees. Locals also let rooms on rent over here.



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