A nondescript rustic hamlet comprising of labourers and artisans of 1000 people with 200 houses, a village with few shops, small temples scattered about, a well sufficient enough to quench the thirst of this village popularly known as Shirdi. This dusty rural village flanked by cactus and wild plants in the mid 19th century is a popular pilgrimage destination next only to Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh.
Shirdi Nagar in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra State is more than just a small town now. Reached by road Manmad-Ahmednagar State Highway No. 10 which is around 83 kms from Nagar (for Ahmednagar). It is about 296 kms from Mumbai, the state capital, 115 kms from Aurangabad and 186 Kms from Pune.
In the past few decades the village transformed into a small town by leaps and bounds. The foot falls of pilgrims have been increasing rapidly in this temple town. For the past century the popularity has reached a crescendo. Thanks to the 19th century saint Sri Sai Baba whose divine blessings are sought by every one in India and even abroad. His popularity has crossed the realms of the seven seas.
Cast and creed are shunned at this temple. Without bias and indifference, everyone from any religion is welcome to offer their prayers and seek baba’s blessings, as he is popularly revered. Wholly maintained by Sri Saibaba Sansthan Trust is one of the richest temple organizations in India. Multitude of devotees visits the land of Sai and the temple administration provides proper amenities at the temple premises.
In retrospect Shirdi was under the Nizam’s independent Dominion as Maharashtra state did not exist which was divided up under British rule into Bombay Presidency. The modest and humble saint came to Shirdi in mid-nineteenth century when the village was not more than a hamlet with waste lands and two streams running through the woods.
However, the neglected village experienced prosperity as by 1910 more Sai Baba devotees thronged the temple town. Basic civic amenities were being provided. Streets were lit at night, passages were swept and cleaned. Until the end of Baba’s mortal days, His mosque had taken on the quality of a darbar, more sermons, and more discourses.
It is a mystery whether Sai Baba was a Muslim or a Hindu as his teachings combined elements of Islam and Hinduism. He practiced both Muslim and Hindu rituals drawing inspirations from both traditions. He lived in a mosque and christened it ‘Dwarakamayi’. He took ‘samadhi’ in Shirdi. He preached the importance of realization of the self with a focus on a moral code of love, forgiveness, charity, inner peace, devotion to God. He criticized love towards worldly things.
Reaching the Temple Town:
The nearest rail head is Shirdi Railway Station where since 2011 trains pan India terminate/orginate here. Manmad and Ahmednagar were the erstwhile railway station, which are 87 kms and 83 kms from Shirdi. Other railway stations are Kopargaon or Nashik city with a distance of 15 kms and 119 kms respectively.
State Transport buses and taxis are available from the above mentioned towns and cities regularly and the nearest airports are Aurangabad and Pune which are at a distance of 115 kms and 186 Kms respectively. Looking at the growing popularity of the shrine, Shirdi Airport is on the anvil at Kakdi in Kopargaon Taluka about 14 kms from the Sai Baba Temple.
Allah Malik & Sabka Malik Ek ....God is King & One God Governs All!!!