About Shirdi –
Shirdi is a town and falls under the jurisdiction of municipal council popularly known as Shirdi Nagar Panchayat, located in Rahata Tahasil in Ahmednagar District in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Shirdi is best known as the late 19th century home of the popular guru Shirdi Sai Baba. As of the 2001 India census, the population of Shirdi stood at 26,169. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Shirdi has an average literacy rate of 70%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 76%, and female literacy is 62%. In Shirdi, 15% of the population is under 6 years of age. But, Shirdi being a pilgrimage centre, it also has a large amount of floating population. On any given day some 25,000 devotees come for darshan. On holidays the number reaches to about half a million people. Due to easy availability of jobs, a lot of migrant population, mainly of unskilled labourers from UP, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, etc. also reside here. They are not part of any census.
Places to visit in Shirdi –
Shirdi is a very sacred, powerful and important place of pilgrimage in India. There are many places that are to be seen by every pilgramage.
This place is near Shirsainath Hospital. Baba stepped here in Shirdi at the foot of banyan tree near Khandoba Temple along with Chand Patil’s wife’s nephew’s marriage party. The then Pujari Mhalsapati welcome Him by calling “Ya Sai”.
This is the place where Baba first appeared to the world as a boy of 16 years & this place is supposed to be Baba’s Gurusthan. the famous Margosa (Neem) tree is here. it has a reference in Shri Sai Sat-charita. Devotees claim that their ailments are cured by burning incense here on Thursday & Friday.
Sai Baba’s Samadhi Mandir:
This is the place where Sacred Body of Baba is resting in Samadhi. The articles handled by Baba are preserved & displayed here in a special showroom. All rituals consisting of Pooja. Abhishek & daily four Aratis are performed here. The Samadhi Mandir of Shri Sai Baba was actually owned by a millionaire from Nagpur and a famous Sai devotee Shreemant Gopalrao, also known as ‘Butti Wada’. He wanted to keep an idol of Murlidhar there. However, according to the legends, Sai Baba manifested himself as Murlidhar and the temple became the Samadhi Mandir of Baba. The Samadhi of Baba is built with white marble stones. The railings around it are full of ornamental decorations. The idol of Baba is a marvelous statue made up of Italian marble built by Late Balaji Vasant in 1954. The temple has an assembly hall for about 600 devotees. The first floor of the temple has the pictures depicting the life of the saint. The temple opens on 5 AM with morning prayers and close down at 10 PM with night prayers.
Baba stayed at this place continuously for 60 years. Innumerable devotees got blessing of Baba here. The Shila (Stone) on which Baba used to sit is located nearby. Also Sacred Fire (Dhuni) lit by Baba is ever burning here. Baba used to give Sacred Udi (Ash) to the devotees to solve their problems in life. Udi distributed to the devotees now is only from this Dhuni. Baba used to cook food here for distribution to devotees. Main attraction of the site is the oil paintings of the sage.
On every alternate day Baba used to proceed in procession from Dwarkamai to this place at night & halt & sleep here. Now also on every Thursday Palanquin procession of Baba’s Photo. Holy Padukas & Satka is taken to this place between 9.15 p.m. & 10.00 p.m. 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.
At some distance from Gurusthan, there is the Lendi Baug. This garden was made and watered daily by Baba himself. It got its name from a nullah (a drain), which used to flow there. Baba used to come here every morning and afternoon and take rest under a neem tree. Baba dug a pit, 2 feet deep, under the neem tree and kept a deep (a lighting object) lit in that pit. An octagonal deepgriha (lighthouse) called Nanda Deep has been built in marble stone in memory of this place. It constantly burns in a glass box. On one side of the deepgriha is a pipal tree and on the other side is a neem tree.
This is the place where Shri Sai Baba used to go for stroll. Nandadeep is kept constantly burning near the tree planted by shri sai Baba Himself. There is also Datta Mandir in this garden & Shri Sai Baba’s deloyed Horse ‘Shamkarna'(Shamsunder) is taking Eternal Rest here. There is also a well here called as ‘Baba’s Shivdi’.
In addition 3 other Temples are in Temples premises complex : 1) Shri Ganesh Temple, 2) Shri Shani Temple & 3) Shri Mahadev Temple