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Tourist Places To Visit In Shirdi
Shirdi, the home to the 19th century seer and Saint Sri Sai Baba is a place of spirituality and religious tolerance. People of all religions and faith visit the Sri Shirdi Samadhi Mandir at Shirdi to get the darshan and blessings of Sri Shirdi Sai, who is considered their spiritual preceptor.
In 1851, Shirdi a small nondescript town in Maharashtra was the chosen spot for the young Sai Baba who spent two months sitting in meditation under a neem tree. After travelling from place to place, Sai Baba returned to Shirdi in 1858 and remained there till his Samadhi. Sai Baba’s love to all living beings and devotion to God and Guru drew people to Shirdi to seek his blessings. There are a number of places in Shirdi which are linked with the life of Shirdi Sai Baba. After visiting the Samadhi Mandir, pilgrims take a tour of the shrines and monuments in the temple complex. A few kilometres away from Shirdi are several temple towns that you could visit, after completing your darshan tour of Shirdi.
The Samadhi Mandir which houses the Samadhi of Shirdi Sai Baba is the main temple within the complex. The Samadhi was built by Shrimanth Gopalrao who was an ardent devotee of Lord Murlidhar. Shirdi Sai Baba declared himself to be Murlidhar and the much convinced Gopalrao build a spectacular Mandir in white marble. A magnificent life sized marble idol of Shirdi Sai Baba is placed near the Samadhi which has a huge hall where thousands of pilgrims can gather for a darshan.
The Temple complex houses a museum which has objects that had been used by Shirdi Sai Baba during his lifetime. There are small temples for Ganesha, Shiva and the planetary god Shani within the complex. Thousands of people visit the temple on a day and the numbers increase during festivals.
The Samadhi Mandir is about 500 m from the Shirdi Bus Stand.
The Khandoba Mandir has an ancient idol of Khandoba who is a manifestation of Shiva, with his consorts Mhalsa and Banai. The Khandoba temple has a lot of association with the life of Shirdi Sai Baba and people who visit the Samadhi Mandir do not fail to visit the Khandoba Mandir.
It is believed that when Shirdi Sai Baba returned to Shirdi for the second time, the priest of the temple Mhalsapati found Sai Baba standing under the banyan tree that’s near the temple and greeted him with the words ‘Aao Sai!’ The temple is situated in a quiet area and you could spend some time there to meditate in peace.
Before Shirdi Sai Baba arrived at Shirdi, Dwarkamai had been an old mosque in a dilapidated condition. It is said that Sai Baba chose to live and spend the rest of his life in the mosque that came to be called Dwarkamai. During the life of Shirdi Sai Baba people came from all quarters of the country to the Dwarkamai to converse with Sai Baba and get his blessings.
Today pilgrims and devotees queue up to imbibe the sanctity of the place that has a big portrait of Sai Baba, a stone tablet or Shila that he used to sit on, as well as a stone slab which he used as a bathing bench. The Dhuni or sacred fire burns bright in Dwarkamai and is a sublime spot to sit in meditation nearby.
Check out the beautiful oil painting of Sai Baba, along with the grinding stone and kolamba vessel that Sai Baba used, to bring home his biksha. Dwarkamai is located close to the Samadhi Mandir.
Gurusthan is the holy place where the Guru or teacher dwells. The primary point in Gurusthan is a neem tree under which Sai Baba had sat in meditation when he first arrived at Shirdi. Years later when the place was dug to lay the foundations for the Sathe Wada, the diggers found bricks that seemed to be covering a tunnel. Shirdi Sai Baba informed his followers that the region was the resting place of his Guru and that it should be left undisturbed.
The holy neem tree is enclosed in a grilled podium, with a small shrine with a picture of Sai Baba, a Shiva linga and Nandi at its foot. It is believed that the leaves of the tree are sweet to taste and not bitter as it is their wont to be. Gurusthan is in Kopergaon, about 13 km from Shirdi.
The Chavadi at Shirdi was one of the places where Shirdi Sai Baba would spend a lot of his time. Once during the monsoons, when the roof and walls of Dwarkamai leaked and became unfit to stay in, the people of Shirdi begged Sai Baba to move into the Chavadi, which had originally been a sort of village municipal and record office of Shirdi.
It is said that Sai Baba spent every alternate night at Chavadi thereafter, accepting the aarti offered to him and holding spiritual discourses with the people who came to listen. The Palki or procession of Shirdi Baba’s Pudukas travels from the Samadhi Mandir to Dwarkamai and Chavadi and returns to the Samadhi Mandir.
Maruti Mandir also known as the Dakshinamukhi Hanuman Temple is one of the oldest temples in Shirdi. The south facing temple has two idols of Hanuman, placed one beside the other. During the life time of Shirdi Sai Baba the Hanuman Mandir was the place where ascetics and sadhus would meet and Shirdi Sai Baba would often join them in their discourses.
There are a collection of dumbells and weights in a corner of the Mandir, which are used for exercise by the young men of the town. It is believed that a work out in the temple for Hanuman, a god who is known for his courage and strength would be a blessing. On Thursday nights people gather at the Maruti temple to offer aarti and sing bhajans. Maruti temple is opposite Gate number 3 of the Sai Samadhi Mandir Complex and close to Dwarkamai and Chavadi.
Shani Shingnapur is a town that is renowned for the open air temple to Shanieshwar, the planetary god of Saturn. The dark coloured idol which appears to be made of stone is about 5 ft in height and around 1 ft in width. According to legends, a monsoon that swept through the regions 350 years ago, brought in the idol with the flood waters and deposited it in Shingnapur. Divine dreams that some of the natives had, indicated that the strange idol was Lord Shanieshwara who should be installed in the town and offered worship.
According to legends, the bottom half of the idol goes much deeper into the surface and a foundation has been built around the idol that is seen on top. Shani Shingnapur is a significant temple on the Shirdi Temple tour and a number of pilgrims visit the shrine on any given day. On Saturdays, Shani amavasya, Gudi Padva and on Shanieshwara Jayanthi the number of pilgrims raises predominantly. On Ashada Ekadashi Shanieshwar palki (procession) travels from Shingnapur to Pandarpur and back.
Shani Shingnapur is in Nevasa Taluk in Ahmednagar, about 70 km from Shirdi.
Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple
Trimbakeshwar temple at the foothills of the Brahmagiri Hills houses one of the 12 Jyothirlingas of Shiva. The temple was built by the third Peshwa of the Maratha Empire, Balaji Bajirao. The sacred Godavari River originates from the Brahmagiri Hills near Trimbakeshwar temple from a kund known as the Kushavarta Kund.
Higher up the Brahmagiri hills are the gufas (caves) said to have been the meditation places of the rishi Gouthama as well as for sage Goraknath who wanted the God Ganges to appear on earth as a river. Surrounded by the lush vegetation of the enclosing hills and the pristine waters flowing down the slopes, the magnificent black structure of the Trimbakeshwar rises up most splendid. The Trimbakeshwar temple beckons to pilgrims throughout the year, with thousands of people gathering to attend the Mahashivratri, Rath Pournima and Tripura Pournima and the Kumbh Mela celebrated once in 12 years. Trimbakeshwar is about 113 km from Shirdi.
Navshya Ganpati Temple
Navshya Ganpati Temple is an ancient shrine, said to have been built about 400 years ago by the Maratha Peshwa rulers. Navshya Ganpati is considered a contented, peaceful God who listens to the prayers of his followers and fulfils them as well. Prayers are offered with bells being tied up in the shrine and as soon as you enter the temple you find a plethora of jingling bells of various sizes hung up in the rafters above the steps and on the pillars as well.
The Godavari River flows quite close by and you might even be allowed to go on the river on a boating trip. The temple is a serene, place where you could spend some time in meditation. Navshya Ganpati temple is a significant one and might get crowded during festivals especially Sankasthi Chuturthi. You could sit by the rippling riverside and feast on the delicious prasad that is offered to all devotees. Navshya Ganpati Temple is at Anantvalli in Nashik and is about 90 km from Shirdi.
A trip to Shirdi is never complete without a tour to Nashik which has a number of temples and regions like the Panchavati forests that is associated to the life of Rama. The Naroshankar temple is an impressive temple for Shiva that was built in 1747 by Sardar Naroshankar Rajebahaddur, a soldier of the Maratha Peshwa army. Built in a stunning example of the Maya style of architectural, the temple sits on a platform and has its inner and outer walls filled with exquisite sculptures.
The temple has a bell house in the centre with a huge bronze bell known as the Naroshankaranchi ghanta. The bell was awarded to Naroshankar Rajebajaddur for his role in the war between the Maratha Peshwas and the Portuguese, in which the Peshwa army emerged victorious. It is said that the resonance of the bell can be heard 5 km away. Naroshankar Temple is about 86 km from Shirdi on the Shirdi Nashik route.