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The Holyland
May 25, 2006 04:54 PM 5378 Views
(Updated May 25, 2006 04:55 PM)


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If your heart needs healing and you need to calm your aching soul, hop into a bus or jump into your car and 5 hours away you'll find a listening ear and a heart so noble and kind that you'll forget your worries at once.

Shirdi in Maharashtra (about 5 hours from Mumbai and 1.5 hours from Nasik) is where you'll find the mortal remains of the simple saint Sai Baba. Sai Baba is believed to have performed many great miracles in his mortal life and his faithful believe that He even listens to you from His grave. That is perhaps why people from all over India and the world this little village.

Shirdi was one home to Sai Baba and now it houses a shrine that contains His mortal remains. People from all faiths-Hindu, Muslim, Sikhs, Christians etc come here in great numbers to offer their prayers to the saint. Thursday-the day devoted to Sai Baba is specially crowded and the queue to enter the shrine can be quite long. A special darshan is provided for the ailing and the elderly so that they dont have to wait for long.

There are various stalls outside the shrine and hawkers will surround you to sell you thaalis that contain flowers, sweets, coconut etc for you to offer to Sai Baba. You may buy from them or carry your own offerings...Sai Baba's blessings will be the same! :)

The shrine authorities have arranged to store your shoes while you stand in the darshan queue. So feel safe to leave your shoes with them.

You can also buy prasad for a very nominal cost from the shrine authorities that are made and offered to Sai Baba.

Once you enter shrine complex, you will have to go through a series of halls that will lead you to the main room. Here, you'll see a lifelike marble idol of Sai Baba with the most benevolent eyes. He'll be smiling and looking at you. Say your prayers quickly for the security guards wont let you stay for long.

If you're lucky enough to be present during the aarati time, you'll be able to watch the pandits perform the aarati and will get to be in the Divine Presence for longer.

(There are about 3 or 4 aaratis through the day)

The temple complex also houses the neem tree under which Sai Baba sat. Its leaves are known to be not bitter but sweet! Articles used by Baba (his sandals, pipe etc) are also preserved here. You can also visit Dwarkamai....the place where Sai Baba gave his teachings from.

The stalls outside the temple also sell idols of Sai Baba, key chains, photographs, pens with vibhuti, pendants, rings etc. Be sure to buy them for your believer friends.

If you're visiting from Mumbai or Pune, you can usually make the trip to Shirdi and back within less than a day. There are tourist buses which reach you to the shrine early in the morning and schedule the return journey for post lunch. ST buses also ply here.

If you plan to stay overnight, there are several budget hotels that would accomodate you. If you're looking for something more comfortable, the Sun n Sand is a good option.

If you have time, about an hour's drive away is Shani Shringanapur village. Shanidev or Saturn is significantly worshipped here.

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