Shirdi is a town in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra in India. It is located 185 km east of the Arabian Sea shoreline. Shirdi was where the saint Sai Baba lived till his samadhi in 1918. Today, it is a pilgrimage center and millions of his devotees from all over the world come each year to pay their respects.
The best time of the year to visit Shirdi is January through March. April to June is the hot summer, followed by the monsoon. Pilgrim arrival peaks between September and November when many Hindu festivals occur. Baba's death anniversary is commemorated in the month of October, the exact date depending on the Hindu calendar.
There are many buses connecting Shirdi to cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Nashik. The road connectivity between Mumbai and Shirdi is good, except in certain stretches. Convenient overnight buses also ply this route. It takes around 7 hours from Mumbai to Shirdi.
- Shirdi is accessible via the Ahmednagar-Manmad State Highway No.10, approximately 83 kms from Ahmednagar and 15 kms from Kopargaon.
- It is approximately 240 km from Mumbai on the Eastern Express Highway.
Trains from Mumbai, Pune and Nashik are available.
Shirdi has no airport. The nearest airports are at Mumbai and Pune.
Shirdi is not a big town. As the town has grown around its main attraction - the Sai Baba temple - almost all major sights and sounds are all within walking distances from anywhere in Shirdi.
The main attractions are the Temple where Sai Baba's samadhi is located, the former dwelling place of Sai Baba called Dwarakamayi, and the place called Chavadi where Baba used to sleep. These 3 are located close to each other.
- Sai Baba Temple - Located at the heart of the town, this houses the samadhi (burial site) of Sai Baba. Entry is free, but the waiting time in the queue averages over an hour. The temple opens around 0400 hrs and stays open till about 2200 hrs. At the samadhi site itself, it is not possible to spend more than a minute simply because the priests usher people along so that everyone in queue manages a glimpse of the samadhi. In addition, the temple premises also has the samadhis of some of Sai Baba's most prominent devotees.
Mobile phones and cameras are prohibited within the temple premises.
- Dwarakamayi - Located adjacent to the temple complex, Dwarakamayi is the name of the mosque where Baba resided for an unbroken span of 60 years till his death in 1918. The structure has been renovated and houses the Dhuni the fire that Baba always kept burning. The flames are never allowed to die and the Dhuni today is the same that Baba lit over 100 years ago. Additionally, some of Baba's articles such as his grinding stone, fireplace, a stone on which he used to sit are located in the Dwarakamayi
- Chavadi - Every alternate day, Baba used to sleep in the Chavadi, a few meters away from the Dwarakamayi. Even today, on Thursday nights, Baba's footprints are taken in a ceremonial procession from Dwarakamayi to Chavadi.
Apart from visiting the temple and other places connected to Sai Baba, there is precious little to do in Shirdi.
There are a large number of shops that sell trinkets and souvenirs - statues, magnets, stickers, books, photos of Sai Baba. Prices are generally negotiable.
Restaurants are liberally dotted over Shirdi. A variety of cuisines including Gujarati, Maharashtrian, South Indian, Continental are available. Most restaurants serve only vegetarian fare.
Cold drinks and bottled water are available in many local stores. Fresh coconut water is also available. However, liquor is not available in the town.
There is no dearth of accommodation in Shirdi. Hotels of all categories abound. However, not all of them are value for money so insist on checking the facilities in the room before paying. In peak season, it is advisable to have prior reservations, which can be made either over phone or through travel websites.
- Violent crime is not common in Shirdi.
- Beware of touts who will offer to help you find accommodation and take you on temple tours. While they do not charge for their service, they will expect you to purchase items from their stores as quid pro quo at inflated prices.
- Shirdi can be quite dusty, so those with allergies should carry along a dust mask.
- Bottled water is recommended over tap water for drinking purposes.
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- Triyambakeshwar, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India, is just 50 km from Shirdi and it is worth a visitable place.
This page was last edited at 10:41, on 9 March 2009 by Pradyot Anand. Based on work by Sumit Shekhar, Wikitravel user(s) Texugo and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.