(Last Updated on : 23/01/2009)
It is situated in Rahata Tahasil in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra. The nearest railway station is Kopargaon, 15 km on the Manmad-Daund section of Central Railways. Shirdi is the very famous, renowned temple of Shri Sai Baba. It was establishes in 1922, to carry out services in honor Shri Baba.
There is nothing that can be called flashy or gaudy in the temple complex of Shirdi Sai Baba temple. It is located in a quaint sleepy little town, which can be called the USP of this very revered temple. No traces of commercialization can be seen in the vicinity. Considered to be the incarnation of the Almighty, Sai Baba was an ordinary `fakir` (beggar), who preached the meaningful teachings of God. He started showing peculiar miracles at a very young age, though leading a very simple life. These incidents increased day by day; soon he began to be regarded as a man with extraordinary powers. He has the unique power of attracting followers from the lower and higher levels of society alike. The spot where he attained enlightenment is where the present temple has been built. He was and is still worshipped as god. Every evening at 6.30 the main `aarti` for Sai Baba starts. Devotees from far and near sing hymns in praise of the lord. The gala evening looks nothing short of a festival with abundance of flowers and lamps everywhere. In fact, he is wrapped in a blanket in winter and a mosquito net in summer. The sacred ash of Sai Baba, `Vibhuti` is distributed amongst the worshippers for offerings. Thursday is regarded the special day for Sai Baba, as million of devotees throng to the temple.
However, the temple is divided into parts, owing to the vastness of its complex. They comprise: Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai, Gurushtan and Lendibaug. Samadhi Mandir of Shri Sai Baba was originally owned by a millionaire from Nagpur, a renowned devotee Shreemant Gopalrao. Gopalrao wished to keep an idol of Murlidhar (Krishna) here. However, baba himself transformed himself into Murlidhar, and the Mandir became the Samadhi of Baba. The entire mandir is built with stones and Baba`s samadhi is built especially with white marble. A girding is built in marble covering the samadhi and it is decked with ornamental decorations. In front of the samadhi are two silver pillars with intricate decorations. Just behind the samadhi is Sai Baba`s splendid statue of Italian marble that denotes him in a seated position atop a throne. This idol was made by late Balaji Vasant. This statue was installed on 7th October 1954. Above the statue is an open silver umbrella. The front of the mandir has an assembly hall where about 600 devotees can be accommodated. The numerous items used by Baba are kept here, for general viewing. The first floor of the mandir has pictures depicting the life of the Baba. Daily routine of the temple starts at 5.00 AM with Bhoopali, a morning raga sung in the morning, and closes at 10 PM in the night after Shejarati is sung. Only on three occasions the temple is kept open overnight, on Gurupoornima, Dusshera and Ramnavami.
Dwarkamai is the place where Shri Sai Baba stayed on till the end of his life. He came to Shirdi with a marriage procession. It is situated on the right side of the Samadhi Mandir. In Dwarkamai he cured people of their sickness, worries and other problems. Before the advent of Baba, the place was a dilapidated mosque. He turned it into Dwarkamai and stated to people that God is one. The first level of Dwarkamai has a portrait of Baba and a big stone on which Baba used to sit. This level has two rooms, one containing the chariot and the other a `palkhi` (palanquin). Just in front of the room where the chariot is kept, there is a small temple. A saffron flag flies on top of it. The second level of Dwarkamai has a square stool made of stone, which was used by Baba for his bath. The chief attraction here is the oil painting of Shri Sai Baba seated on a carved wooden shrine. The level also has the grinding stone and the wooden vessel called Kolamba in which Baba used to keep the `Bhiksha` (alms) brought from the villagers.
Gurusthan is the place where Sai Baba was first spotted seated under a neem tree. Baba had come here when he was a Bal Yogi, a child ascetic. However, the renovation of Gurusthan was carried out only on 30th September 1941. The present temple was built after this period. A small shrine adorns the Gurusthan, on an elevated platform of which a huge portrait of Baba is kept. On its side is a marble statue of Baba can be witnessed. In front of the portrait are a Shivling with the Nandi; photos of 12 Jyotirlingas are also kept inside the temple. The branches of the neem tree have penetrated through the roof of the temple. At a short distance lies the Chavadi of Baba. He used to sleep here every alternate day. The Chavadi is divided into two parts- one part of the Chavadi has a large portrait of Baba along with a wooden bed and a white chair belonging to him. Abdul Baba, an ardent devotee of Shri Sai Baba has his cottage in front of the Chavadi. The Lendi Baug was looked after Abdul Baba. There are photos and various other things handled by Sai Baba and Abdul Baba in the cottage. There is also a Maruti Mandir located away from the cottage of Abdul Baba. This mandir was visited by Baba for the `saat-saang` with Devidas, a Balyogi who lived at the Mandir for 10 to 12 years before Baba arrived.
At some distance from Gurusthan there is the Lendi Baug. This baug (garden) was watered and taken care of by Sai Baba himself. It got its name from a nalla (drain) that previously flowed there. Baba used to visit this place every morning and afternoon to take rest under a neem tree. He had a dug a huge pit, two feet deep and kept a deep (oil lamp) lit in the pit. An octangular Deepgriha called Nanda Deep has been built in marble, in memory of this tiny place. On one side of the Deepgriha is a Peepal tree and on the other side is a neem tree. A few yards away is a Datta mandir below an Audumbar tree. In the mandir there is a statue of Datta built in marble. It was installed on 6th December 1976. Just behind the Datta Mandir is a samadhi of the horse, Shyamsundar, which belonged to Baba and which bowed to him every day. A well dug by Baba, with the help of his devotees can also be seen Lendi Baug. At the entrance of the Baug, are the samadhis of staunch Sai Baba devotees Tatya Kote Patil, Bhau Maharaj Kumbhar, Nanavalli and Abdul Baba.
The other places worth visiting in the vicinity of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba temple are Dwarkamayee Masjid, Khandoba Temple and Mahadev, Shani & Ganesh Temples.