Shirdi -Holy City of Sai Baba :
India's one of the sacred, powerful and enchanting places of pilgrimage is Shirdi. It is a great spiritual centre to people from all religions. Who is not familiar with this renowned abode of Saibaba ? Devotees belonging to every faith throng here to pay their respects to his memory.
About Shirdi Sai Baba :
Sai Baba was not only a great saint but "God incarnate" himself in the eyes of the millions of devotees of different cast, creed and also religion. The early life of Sai Baba is still cloaked in mystery as there isn't any reliable record of the Baba's birth and parentage. But many authors and scholars conclude from various proofs that Baba was born in 1838 in a Brahmin family at village Pathri in District Parabhani, Maharastra State, India. The Brahmin parents handed over the tender child to the care of a fakir who in turn passed on the young child to a saintly person namely Gopal Rao Deshmukh--an ardent worshipper of Lord Venkateswara.
His first visit to Shirdi was anonymous but he was noticed meditating under a neem tree in the outskirts of Shirdi. For the second time he was seen at a wedding in which he was incidently the guest of honouring 1858. Sai Baba graced the village of Shirdi by spending his physical life from 1858 to 1918 here. Sai Baba attained 'mahasamadhi' on October 15, 1918. Before his death, he said, "Do not think I am dead and gone. You will hear me from my Samadhi and I shall guide you." The millions of devotees who keep his image in their homes, and the thousands who throng to Shridi every year, is a testimony to the greatness and continuing popularity of Sai Baba of Shirdi Today, all places, persons, and possessions connected with him have become objects of veneration by millions of devotees who throng to Shirdi every year from all parts of the world. Sai Baba's shrine has been incorporated as one of the holiest places in the world's map of pilgrimage.
Fair and Festivals :
The most important festivals and events that are celebrated in Shirdi are Ramnavami, Guru Poornima and Dussehra. These are the only days when the Samadhi Mandir of Shirdi opens for the whole night. Thursday is the special day of Sai Baba, a palakhi bearing a photograph of the sage is taken out from the temple. There are many enchanting attractions in Shirdi but it is the shrine of Sai Baba that is the hub of activity.
Don't miss the exotic places in Shirdi :
You should not miss its nearby attraction like Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai, Gurusthan, Lendi Baug, Khandoba Mandir. Sai Baba's Samadhi Mandir The temple premises of Shri Saibaba is in the heart of Shirdi village and is a major center of pilgrimage from all over the world. This is the place where sacred body of Baba is resting in Samadhi. Shri Gopalrao Butty of Nagpur constructed this building and is also known as 'Butty Wada'. It consists of Shrine and of a beautiful idol of Shri Saibaba. The Samadhi of Sai 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.
Dwarkamai Dwarkamai is situated on the right side of the entrance of Samadhi Mandir. Shri Sai Baba stayed at this place continuously for 60 years. Shri Saibaba used to sit and take rest at this place. This is the main place where people used to meet Baba. The Shila (Stone) on which Baba used to sit is located near by. Also Sacred fire (Dhuni) lit by Baba is still kept burning here. Udi distributed to the devotees now is only from this Dhuni. Baba used to prepare food, with his own hands, here for distribution to devotees. The things handled and used by Shri Saibaba, like the Stone (sitting place) of Baba, Palakhi (Palanquin), Chul (Clay stove), Kolambe (small earthen pot), Samai (lamp), the bag of grains, and the Khamb (a wooden pillar) can be seen here.
This is the place where Baba first appeared to the world as a boy of 16 years & this place is supposed to be Baba's Gurusthan. The well known "Neem Tree" described in Shri Sai Satcharitra can also be seen here. This place has achieved importance because it is believed that the devotees can get what they pray for if "Udi" and "Agarbatti" are lightened at this place, every Thursday and Friday.
Lendi Baug :
At some distance from Gurusthan, there is the Lendi Baug. This baug was made and watered daily by Baba himself. It got its name from a nullah, which used to flow there. Baba early morning and afternoon come here and take rest under a neem tree. Nandapeep is kept constantly burning near the Pimple tree planted by shri sai Baba Himself. There is also Datta Mandir in this garden & Shri Sai Baba's deloyed Horse 'Shamkarna'(Shamsunder) is taking Eternal Rest here. There is also a well here called as 'Baba's Shivdi'. You must visit three other temples, Shri Ganesh temple, Shri Shani temple and Shri Mahadev temple in the temple premises complex.
Mandir Khandoba Mandir is located near Shri Sainath Hospital. Baba stepped here in Shirdi at the foot of banyan tree near Khandoba Temple along with Chand Patil's wife's Nephew's Marriage party. The then Pujari Mhalsapati welcomed Him by calling "Aao Sai."
Shopping in Shirdi :
Souvenirs and other items related to the life of Shirdi Sai Baba can be purchased from the many shops located nearby temple. Many bookshops near the temple sell books on the life of the sage.
Accommodation in Shirdi :
Accommodation is never a problem in Shirdi - from the MTDC hotel, tourist rest houses, dharamsalas and ashrams, to five star accommodation - the town is totally geared for pilgrims. You can stay in comfort and clean surroundings at one of the charitable sansthas and dharamsalas for just a handful of rupees.
Facilities and Services at Shirdi for Tourists :
Reception centres at the S.T. Bus stand. Medical facilities at well-equipped Sainath Hospital run by the Shirdi Sansthan. Accommodation of the Sai Baba Sansthan-Bhakti Niwas, Keshav Mandir, Mangal Karyalaya, Sai Nath Chhaya, Sai Niwas Guest House, Sai Prasad, Sai Udyan, Samadhi Mandir, Sevadham, Shanti Niwas.
How to reach Shirdi??
Shirdi town is situated in Rahata Tahasil in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra State (India). A holy city of Sai Baba is 296 kms from Mumbai, 6 hours' drive from Mumbai and 130 kms from Aurangabad.
By Air :
The nearest airport is Aurangabad (144 Km), which is connected by regular flights to other cities/towns.
By Rail :
The convenient railheads are at Nasik (123 Km) and Manmad (60 Km).
By Road :
Shirdi is well connected by Road with Mumbai (296 kms) via Nashik-Sinnar and Manmad. You can get the taxis from Dadar-Mumbai up to Shirdi or you can get the luxury coach for Shirdi or take a train up to Nasik and take a taxi for Shirdi. Regular taxi service also operates between Manmad railway station and bus stand. State Transport Corporation and private operators run coaches to Shirdi from Mumbai.