Friday, October 14, 2011

Shirdi - Spiritual Centre of SaiBaba (Punya Kshetra Series-1)

Sai Baba,one of the foremost saints of modern India,lived in Maharashtra for sixty years and elevated it to the status of a great spiritual centre.He never stirred out of that village during this long period except for visits to two villages,Neemgaon and Rahata, three miles on either side of Shirdi.He never preached,toured nor discoursed.He never advertised himself.He rather shunned and discouraged unnecessary publicity.Yet by sheer brilliance of his spiritual fire he did draw innumerable devotees to him from all over the country,irrespective of their caste and creed.When he took Samadhi in 1919 he never installed anyone as a successor to his spiritual throne at Shirdi.Yet his very power to mould and develop his devotees is such that even more than 90 years of his Samadhi SaiBaba is still a dynamic spiritual force which countless Indians invoke for their spiritual and material welfare.
The Speciality of Sai baba is,His gospel and teachings emphasize that religious and communal differences are meaningless in matters of the spirit.So,Shirdi attracts people from all religions and sects and stands as a symbol of Spiritual Unity.

Shirdi is located in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.Distance from Ahmednagar town is 80 kms.Distance from Mumbai is 300 kms.Shirdi-Pune is 186 kms.Nashik-Shirdi is 90 kms.(All distances are approximate)
By Road- It is accessible via Ahmednagar-Manmad state highway 10.It takes 4 1/2 hours to 5 hours from Pune.Roads are in good condition.It takes 6 to 7 hours from Mumbai.Ghat Sections in between and no proper signboards.It takes 3 hours from Nashik to Shirdi.Roads are not in good condition and just 2 lane.So not able to handle the traffic.
By Railway-Nearest is Sainagar Railway Station,Shirdi and next is Kopergaon Station which is just 15 kms away from shirdi.
Locally many Auto Rickshaws are available.
Important Places to visit in Shirdi
  1. Samadhi Mandir- This is where Baba's Physical Body is placed.This is also known as Buti Wada and was built by famous devotee of Baba,Bapusaheb Buti.Till today Baba has kept up his promise to his devotees "My Tomb will speak and move with those who make me their sole refuge.I shall be active and vigorous from the tomb also".
  2. Dwarakamayi- Mosque in Shirdi in which Baba lived for 60 years.Baba called this mosque as Dwarakamai with love and affection.Dhuni lit by Baba ad well maintained by Sansthan.Holy Ash or Udi/Vibhuti distributed to devotees is from this Dhuni.
  3. Nandadeep in Lendi baug- A deepam lit by Baba and maintained by Sansthan.
  4. Gurusthan- The place of the neem tree under which Sai Baba stayed in early days of his advent at Shirdi and under which,it is believed ,were buried the mortal remains of his Guru.Literally the word means the abode of Guru.
  5. Chavadi -Sai Baba used to sleep in Masjid and Chavadi on alternate nights.On December 10,1909, the devotees started worshipping him at the Chavadi.They led him there in a ceremonial procession with all pomp and splendour.Even today Chavadi processions are held on Thursdays.
  6. Khandoba Mandir- This is where Baba alighted with a marriage party when he arrived Shirdi for the second time.

 All these places are near to Samadhi Mandir and in a walking distance from each other.
There is a Museum inside the Temple Complex where articles used by Baba are kept for display.Devotees who have time and interest can visit this Museum.
 Accomodation & Food

There are many private hotels in Shirdi and Sai Sansthan also offers good accomodation  for varying price range.Sai Sansthan rooms can be booked online on
Booking can be made 60 days prior to visit.'Dwarawati' Sai Sansthan Trust's Complex has very nice,clean,good quality rooms.Both AC and Non AC.
All types of food,Punjabi,South Indian, Maharashtrian,Gujarati are available in various restaurants in Shirdi.Restaurants are mainly located  near the four gates of the Temple complex and the main road.
Sansthan also has made arrangements for selling Tea,Coffee,Milk and Mineral water at Subsidized rates which are available in selected counters.Sansthan also provides free food for needy and poor every day at Prasadalaya Complex from the donations offered by devotees.So no one in Shirdi will go hungry as per Sai Baba's famous Teaching "Give food to the hungry, water to the thirsty and clothes to the naked.Then God will be pleased".

Sai Sansthan has provided excellent Online facility (on above mentioned website) for booking Advanced Tickets for Aarti and Darshan for the required Time slots.Devotees can choose convenient Time slots and book their Tickets well in advance.Aarti Ticket per head is Rs.300/- and Darshan Ticket per head is Rs.100/- .Free Darshan in Queue System is also followed.Temple opens at morning 4.00 am for Kakad Aarti at 4.30 am and Samadhi Mandir closes at 11 pm night.Chavadi and Gurusthan closes at 9 pm and Dwarakamai at 9.30 pm.Prasad Counters are inside the Temple Complex.
Mobiles and Cameras are not allowed inside the Temple Complex.

Planning to continue this Punya kshetra series for different holy places I visit so that pilgrims who plan to visit these holy places are benefitted.

Sai Baba the Master by Sri .E. Bharadwaja.