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Shirdi located in Rahata Tahasil in Ahmednagar District is the abode of one of Maharashtra's most revered saint, Sri Sai Baba. Popularly known as the 'Child of God', Sai Baba preached tolerance towards all religions and the message of universal brotherhood. The saint is believed to have lived in Shirdi for almost fifty years of his life, converting the small village of Shirdi into a hustling pilgrimage center of India. It is believed that he appeared under a neem tree, engaged in a hard self-mortification at the age of 16. The saint devoted his entire life towards uplifting of the poor and the suffering. The origin and early life of the saint is covered in enigma, and it is widely believed that he was an embodiment of Lord Shiva. Every nook and corner of Shirdi has some association with the great saint. Every nook and corner of the village is reminiscent of Baba’s stay here. The focal point for the pilgrims in Shirdi is the Samadhi Mandir. Although it houses the remains of Sri Sai Baba, when Sreemant Gopalrao started the construction of the temple, it was meant to be for Lord Krishna. The Samadhi Mandir is a vortex, and every activity in Shirdi revolves around the vast temple complex. To get a glimpse and seek the blessings of Sai Baba, devotees start queuing up from the early hours of dawn. The special ‘pujas’ and ‘darshans’ are proffered on Thursdays. The Samadhi of Sri Sai Baba is visited everyday by thousands of tourists and devotees alike. The hamlet is prominently featured on the world map of spirituality. The streets of this holy town are lined by shops and stalls selling various articles pertaining to Sai Baba. The village is well developed and is connected by excellent car routes. There are a few other places like the Kandoba Temple, Shani Mandir, Narsimha Mandir and Changdev Maharaj Samadhi which devotees of Sai Baba must visit while in Shirdi. They can hire a car and go about visiting the various places associated with the sage. From Mumbai to Shirdi is approximately 296 km and Shirdi is also accessible via the Ahmednagar - Manmad State Highway No.10, approximately 83 km from Ahmednagar and 15 km from Kopargaon. Distance between Pune to Shirdi is of 190 kilometers and taxis from Mumbai to Shirdi can be availed at the airport or from within the city at economical rates.

Places to Visit

Dwarkamayee Masjid, where Sai Baba is said to have spent a significant part of his life meditating, is another place of interest. In a corridor near the mosque is the ‘dhuni’ (eternal flame) which burns day and night. A little way from the masjid is Chavadi, a two-storied house where Baba slept alternate nights. It was here that his body was last bathed before the funeral.

The place under the Neem tree where Sai Baba was first seen is called Gurusthan. The leaves of the tree are believed to have been rid of their bitterness due to his presence there. A temple and a small shrine were later built at the site.

Devotees should also visit Lendibag and Nandadeep, where Baba is said to have meditated and lighted earthen lamps every day. Tourists travelling via car rental services would be benefitted as car rentals allow the religious traveler to offer his devotion and travel at their own pace.

Things to Do

Apart from paying homage at Samadhi Mandir may shop for Sai Baba’s photographs and effigies or revel in the religious festivals and soak in the serene ambiance of Shirdi.

Dixit Wada Museum in Shirdi where belongings of Shri Sai Baba have been treasured, is another site worth visiting.

A trip to the Wet N Joy Water Park, near Sun-n-Sand Hotel should be made to partake in the numerous water sports.

Thousands of devotees from across the world are attracted to Shirdi for its three major festivals. Although the festivals of Ramnavami (end March), Guru Purnima (Full Moon) and Shirdi Vijayadashmi (3rd week October) are celebrated all across India, at Shirdi the celebrations are distinct.

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