Shirdi is all about the Saint Sai Baba who used to tell “Sabka Malik Ek.” As of now, it is unknown whether this great saint was Hindu or Muslim. Here lies the uniqueness of the world famous temple of Sai Baba in Shirdi that both Hindu and Muslim Sai devotees flooded the Sai temple. Sai Baba lived all his life as a beggar, but the Sai temple in Shirdi is the wealthiest temple in the world. This temple is managed by The Sai Baba Sansthan Trust Shirdi with facilities like accommodation, food, railway reservations, etc. This trust also runs, English Medium School and Girls school, Hospital, Blood Bank, Industrial Training Institute, Supply of drinking water, etc.
Shirdi is in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra and 300 kilometers from Mumbai. The population of Shirdi is 36004 as per 2011 census, and the number of tourists remains 25000 a day. The railway stations to reach this place are Sai Nagar Shirdi, Manmad, Ahmednagar, Kopargaon or Nasik. The buses of Maharashtra tourism and private buses, private taxis are also available to reach the place. Aurangabad airport is 125 kilometers away from Shirdi. It is best to visit Shirdi is from October to March.
The places to visit in the Sai temple complex are Khandoba temple, Gurusthan, Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai, Chavadi, Lendi Gardens and other temples like Maruti Mandir, The Three Temples, Mahalaxmi Temple, Narsimha Temple and Jain Temple. The darshan of Sai Baba, aarti, bhajan, puja and prayer to Sai Baba in Sai temple are the main activities of the Sai devotees.
The three main festivals of Shirdi are Shri Ram Navami, Shri Gurupurnima, and Vijayadashami. These festivals celebrated with grandeur in Sai temple. Puja, Bhajan, qawali, reading devotional texts, the procession with palanquin and rath are the main programmes on these festivals. This number of Sai devotees increases to more than a lakh on these special occasions.
In case of accommodation, all kinds of rooms are available in Sai Ashram Dharmasala, Dwarawati, Sai Prasad Niwassthan and Sai Bhakta Niwas facilitated by the trust. The Non-AC rooms and AC rooms are available at reasonable rate. There are also other good hotels and resorts to stay in Shirdi.
Among the variety of facilities provided by the Shri Sai Sansthan, food arrangement is mention worthy. Shri Sai Prasadalaya has been set up to provide breakfast and meal arrangements to the Sai devotees. Meals are available at affordable prices between Rs 10 and Rs 40. In Shri Sai Prasadalaya 27000 Sai devotees can have Sai Prasad Bhojan on a daily basis, and the meal served to 4500Sai devotees at a time. Other than this there are several restaurants offering veg and non-veg food in Shirdi.
There are also many places for visitors to see around Shirdi. They are Shani Shingnapur, Triambkeshwar, Bhimashankar, Ramkund, Alandi, Shegaon, Muktidham, Coin Museum, Pandavleni Caves, Kalaram Temple, Ellora caves, Daulatabad, etc.
Shirdi is Shopping paradise for Sai devotees. There are shops in Shirdi with the big collection of Sai Baba effigies, trinkets, pictures, statues made of marble and fiber, religious books of Sai Baba’s life and his philosophies. Sai devotees also buy shawls to offer to Sai Baba. There are headbands for meditation, laminated portraits, key chains, lockets, finger rings, rosaries, garlands, dry fruits, sweets, and pedas to gift the near and dear ones.
The Sai Complex Mall is also in the development stage with other offerings for religious as well as non-religious shopping. These shops are open from morning 7 am to 10.30pm at night. The visitors get enough time to shop apart from visiting Sai Temple Complex and other places.