On our next phase of the journey through India’s famous temples we make a stop at the well-known Sai Baba Temple at Shirdi in the state of Maharashtra (approximately 300 km from Mumbai). Sai Baba of Shirdi was a spiritual master, regarded equally by both Hindu and Muslim devotees. Sai Baba chose to make the nondescript village of Shirdi his home. Despite his appearance as a Muslim fakir, he quoted eloquently from Hindu scriptures and treated devotees of all religions, castes, and creed equally. Sai Baba of Shirdi is believed to have manifested many miracles during his lifetime and his popularity seems to be only growing in leaps and bounds almost a century after his death.
Sai Baba of Shirdi has remained one of the predominant forces of inspiration for the seekers of spirituality in India. Apart from this, he was a great unifying factor for Hindus and Muslims who remained divided in the wake of the British conquest of India. Even today people of all religions worship Sai Baba and thousands throng the temple each year. Thursdays are special days at the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple since the day is deemed special for a Guru or guide.
Location and Accommodation
Nearest Airports –
- Aurangabad Airport – 150 kilometers
- Pune Airport – 215 kilometers
- Mumbai Airport – 282 kilometers
Nearest Railway Stations –
- Sai Nagar Railway Station – 0.5 kilometers (only special trains)
- Kopergaon Junction – 16 kilometers
- Manmad Junction -58 kilometers
Nearest Bus Stations –
Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) Bus Station – State buses – 0.5 kilometers
Private buses and coaches may drop you very near to the temple premises.
Apart from 700 registered hotels and inns in Shirdi, the temple administration itself caters to the accommodation needs of devotees. The three accommodation facilities offered by the administration are –
- Sai Ashram
- New Bhakta Niwas
Bookings for these can be made online.
History of Shirdi Sai Baba
Sai Baba is said to have been born in 1838. Details of his birth, family, and early years seem unclear. He started to live in Shirdi from 1858. In his early years, Sai Baba lived off the alms that kind women and merchants in the village gave him. He initially had to endure much hostility as most of the people in Shirdi were Hindus and his appearance was indicative of being a Sufi Muslim.
It is at this time that Sai Baba of Shirdi is said to have manifested many miracles most of them involving healing of the sickly. Cholera, leprosy, and the plague were rampant at the time with no adequate cure. Sai Baba administered to the sick and cured them quickly. As his following started to increase, the village became a place where devotees could always find food and shelter. Rich devotees contributed towards building rest houses and distribution of food.
Sai Baba lived in a small mosque in Shirdi till his demise in 1918. He spoke in parables and always encouraged the listeners to seek out God in all living beings. His story was written and songs sung in his praise even during his lifetime. Sai Baba’s essential simplicity remained his mystique through his life.
The mosque and the Chavadi which had come up even during his lifetime were the primary places of worship for the devotees of Sai Baba of Shirdi. These have now been rebuilt into grand structures. The Samadhi Mandir – the main temple is the mausoleum where Baba’s mortal remains lay buried. A life-size marble idol of Baba is placed here which is worshipped by the devotees who throng to this temple. A large hall in the Samadhi Mandir accommodates hundreds of devotees for prayers and darshan each day.
Apart from the Samadhi Mandir, the current temple premises houses a Khandoba temple – the shrine of a regional deity worshipped by the saint fakir himself. The Gurrusthan is a spot in the temple premises where a neem tree is worshipped. It is under this neem tree that Sai Baba’s guru remains entombed, according to legend. The mosque where Sai Baba spent most of his life, Dwarkamai is another sacred spot that is enshrined in the premises. The temple premises enclose a large garden, the Lendi Garden, which Sai Baba is believed to have tended. The Chavadi was initially a store/office but later became Sai Baba’s bed chamber on alternative nights. There are a number of small shrines for Shiva, Ganesh, and Shani in the premises. The temple also houses a museum which showcases his personal articles of use.
The current temple is administered by the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust of Ahmednagar District. Long railings snake their way through the temple premises for devotees to queue up during their long wait to have darshan. The temple premises have all basic facilities such as drinking water, restrooms, and places to sit and rest. A number of shops selling religious articles, books, pictures, and food have also come up in and around the temple.
Sai Baba temple at Shirdi is famous for its wish fulfillment and healing. Thousands of devotees pledge to visit the temple each year when their desires are granted and accidents averted. Many sick devotees come here with the belief that the seer shall heal them of their maladies. The sacred ash or Udhi dispensed at the temple is believed to have miraculous healing properties. The sacred fire or Dhuni lit by Sai Baba of Shirdi at the mosque is kept aglow round the clock.
Before his demise Sai Baba of Shirdi had promised to live in the tomb and to bless all devotees who visit the temple. A number of devotees claim to see Sai Baba in times of need and despair. The temple is known for its intense peace and spiritual vibrations.
Aarti and Pooja Timings
|4.00 am||Temple Opening||Samadhi Mandir|
|4.30 am||Kakad Aarti||Samadhi Mandir|
|5.00 am||Mangal Snan||Samadhi Mandir|
|5.40 am||Darshan Begins||Samadhi Mandir|
|11.30 am||Dhuni Pooja||Dwarkamai|
|12 noon||Mid Day Aarti||Samadhi Mandir|
|4.30 pm||Dhoop Aarti||Samadhi Mandir|
|9.00 pm||Chavadi and Gurusthan closes|
|9.45 pm||Dwarkamai closes|
|9.45 pm||Shej Aarti||Samadhi Mandir|
|11.45 pm||Dwarkamai closes|
Tickets for Darshan may be booked online or from the PR office near the temple.
Sai Baba’s live darshan can be had online through the temple website every day between 4.00 am and 11.15 pm
Important festivals celebrated at the temple
Some of the main festivals celebrated at the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple are:
- Ramanavami (March/April)
- Guru Poornima (July)
- Eid (July)
- Vijayadasami/Dussera (September/October)
Shri Saibaba Temple Address:
Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, (Shirdi)
PO: Shirdi Tal. Rahata Dist. Ahmednagar State- Maharashtra India