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Things To Do In Shirdi
Shirdi is known predominantly as a temple town where people come to pay their worship at the Shirdi Sai Samadhi Mandir. Though Shirdi is a small town with not much more than being a pilgrim township, there are places a little way beyond Shirdi that are ideal holiday destinations.
There are charming hill stations nestled among the looming Sahyadri mountain ranges of Maharashtra where you could get rejuvenated in the luxuriance of wild nature. Most of these hill towns are easily accessible from Shirdi either by public transport or a cab that could be hired to take you along. Down the slopes, if all you are looking for is a peaceful trip are quaint little temples and museums that you could visit.
If you would like to combine a pilgrimage with a pleasant holiday tour amongst nature, we will give you a list of things you can do while on a trip to Shirdi.
Bhandardara is a small hill station that is known for its simple charms of nature. Lying at an altitude of about 750 m, Bhandardara on the banks of the Pravara River has spectacular waterfalls like the Umbrella Falls, Randha Waterfalls, Bhandardara Dam and Wilson Dam. Bhandardara provides interesting choices for trekkers with trekking trails leading to the ancient Ratangad Fort and the Harishchandragad Fort.
The pristine refreshing mountain air and the tranquillity of the region often tempt tourists bound for a trip to Nashik and Shirdi to stop at Bhandardara for a holiday break. Mt.Kalsubai, the highest peak of the Western Ghats in Maharastra is about 12 km from Bhandardara and is one of the hottest trekking trails of the region. Bhandardara is about 104 km from Shirdi and you could either hire a cab or drive to the hill station from Shirdi.
Shirdi Sai Museum
A pilgrimage to Shirdi is never complete without visiting the museum that displays the personal belongings of Shirdi Sai Baba. Almost all visitors would be familiar with the Sai Satcharitra, the biography of Shirdi Sai Baba which lucidly describes in detail the life of the saint and the meagre possessions that he had with him.
Shirdi Sai Museum maintained by the Shirdi Sai Sansthan has displayed his padukas, the two vessels that were used to feed the people, the few coins that Shirdi Baba had given to Mhalsapati, the grinding stone and the chimta that Sai Baba used while singing bhajans. You could also find his chair and the begging bowl that he used to seek alms from door to door. You could check out the museum when you visit Dwarkamai.
Shirdi’s tiny lanes still hold memories of the life of Shirdi Baba and the people who were devoted to him. Interestingly most of the houses find mention in the Sai Satcharitra. Go off on a heritage tour along the town where you would find the ancient houses, most of them still occupied by the devotees’ descendents.
A little away from Dwarkamai is the house where Shama lived and Dixit Wada, which been converted into a museum was the house Hari Sitaram Dixit, better known as Kakasaheb Dixit lived. Mhalsapati’s house has his Samadhi and some of the things that Sai Baba had given him, like a kafni, some coins, udi and a pair of padukas. Mhalsapati’s house is open to visitors who like to pray at the Samadhi.
Ahmednagar about 84 km away from Shirdi is an ancient historical township with a plethora of monuments, forts and temples. Go for a weekend getaway from Shirdi to Ahmednagar which is a place of interest for history buffs and pilgrims. The town that was founded by Ahmed Nizam Shah 1, who established the Nizam Shahi Dynasty and Ahmednagar Sultanate, has the ancient Ahmednagar Fort which is one of the strongest citadels ever to be built. Constructed in 1559 AD, the Ahmednagar Fort was under the control of the Nizam Shahi rulers, the Mughals under Akbar, the Maratha Peshwas and the British.
The massive fort that was used as a prison during the Maratha and British rule was used to imprison many significant personalities like Nana Phadnis and later Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who is said to have written the Discovery of India from the Ahmednagar Fort.
Yet another appealing hill station of the Western Ghats, Igatpuri in Nashik district is easily accessible from Shirdi. At about an altitude of 600 m, Igatpuri is a picturesque place known for its lakes, ancient temples like the Ghatandevi and Amruteshwara temples, the Bhatsa River Valley made so luxuriantly fertile with the river that flows through it and the Arthur Lake formed from the River Pravara that flows down from Bhandadara.
The Girisagar Waterfalls in the Jamunda Hills and the Five Waterfalls near the railway line are some of the most popular touristy attractions of Igatpuri. You could spend a pleasant evening watching the sun set at Vaitarna dam or trek up the peak to the 10th century Tringalwadi Fort, Mt. Kalsubai or a difficult trek upto Avandha Fort. Igatpuri is about 115 km from Shirdi and there are trains and buses that run between the two towns.
Sai Heritage Village
If you need some time to relax as well as rejuvenate, check out the Sai Heritage Village, a must visit, for the place is something akin to a spiritual tour that also gives a welcome break with a garden to unwind in. The Village has replicated incidents and interesting episodes from the life and deeds of Shirdi Sai Baba with life sized models of the saint and the people who lived during his life. The artwork skilfully portrays the village setting of Shirdi of those days.
Sai Heritage Village has a well maintained garden where you can relax in, while the children are entertained with magic shows, ride on a toy train and a horse or camel ride if they would like one. Sai Heritage Village is about 3 km from Shirdi Sai Samadhi Mandir and you could hop onto an auto rickshaw to reach the place. The Village is open from 9.00 am – 11.00 pm and entrance tickets need be bought to visit the Village.
The Palki procession goes back to the time when Shirdi Sai Baba lived in the Dwarkamai, but went to the Chavadi in the evenings. His trip to the Chavadi was accompanied by a palki procession lead by his horse Shyamkarna and his disciples and followers.
The traditional Palki procession is still followed today on Thursdays when the Palki leaves from the Samadhi Mandir in the evening, proceeds to the Dwarkamai and to the Chavadi and then returns to the Samadhi Mandir. The procession is preceded by the darshan of Shirdi Sai Baba’s photograph, sacred staff and padukas that are kept for worship at the Samadhi Mandir. Hundreds of people gather at the Samadhi Mandir to sing abhangs and bhajans, before the ceremonial procession begins. This is one of the most significant traditions of Shirdi and many tourists time their trip to Shirdi, so they could participate in the Thursday Palki procession.
Malshej Ghat, snuggled against the slopes of the Sahyadri hills in the borders of Thane district is a mountain pass that links Ahmednagar to Thane. The Ghat gives a spectacular view of the lofty peaks and the fertile valleys that abound in the region. Deeper down the vegetation there is a plethora of wild varieties of flora and fauna as well including a variety of birds and animals like leopards and monkeys.
It’s a most amazing experience driving through the Ghat roads especially on a misty morning, for the mountain slopes to the side of the road are dotted with lush cascades and as you drive along, your car would get what tourists fondly call a natural car wash. Malshej Ghat is a weekend destination for people who live in Mumbai, Pune or Thane. It is delightful to drive up the ghat road and revel in the pristine, unsullied natural charms of Malshej Ghat. Malshej Ghat is about 138 km from Shirdi.
Lendi Baug is a garden that is one of the must visit places in Shirdi, as it is associated with the life of Shirdi Sai Baba. Lendi Baug came to be called from a nalla or drain that flowed through the region. It is said that every evening Shirdi Sai Baba would come to the Lendi Baug to water the plants. There is a neem tree, under which Sai Baba had dug a pit and placed a clay lamp within. The duty of keeping the lamp lit at all times was the responsibility of Sai Baba’s devotee Abdulla. Even today a lamp burns eternally in the pit, which is sanctified as deepagraha.
Lendi Baug is a compact little garden with big statues of Shirdi Sai Baba, artificial fountains and play areas for kids. It’s a peaceful place where you could spend an evening, contemplating on God. Lendi Baug is located to the northwest of the Samadhi Mandir. Close to the Lendi Baug are the samadhis of some of Shirdi Sai Baba’s devotees like Tatya Kote Patil, Nanavalli and Abdul Baba.
Vishal Ganpati Mandir
Vishal Ganpati Mandir is one of the most renowned Ganesha temples in Ahmednagar. The 100 year old temple, with a sanctum sanctorum built of white marble has a 3.6 m tall ochre coloured idol of a beatific looking Ganesha. According to legends, the temple gained prominence when many decades back, the locals noticed the idol of Ganesha sweating profusely.
The architectural beauty of the white coloured temple and the huge red coloured idol of Ganpati are a charmer. The Vishal Ganpati temple has hundreds of people visiting in on a day and during Ganesh Chaturthi thousands of people from all over Ahmednagar and the neighbouring districts arrive at the temple to participate in the colourful carnival and pooja. Vishal Ganpati temple is near Maliwada bus stand in Ahmednagar and is about 86 km from Shirdi.