If I had to spend time out of Pune on a long weekend, I would choose to spend it in Shirdi. Shirdi is a small town near Kopargaon and Ahmednagar and is widely popular as the home of Sai Baba. While most people visit Shirdi on or near festivals, I have taken trips to this holy abode several times.
We started our trip on Tuesday morning and reached by 11 AM. The best travel option is to book cabs from Pune to Shirdi. On the way, I saw many lush greeneries, hilly terrain and small villages – all of which make for a memorable road trip.
Here is the itinerary for my two-day trip to Shirdi
Day 1: Sai Baba Temple
While the temple looks very ordinary from the outside, the decorations inside are ornate which show the spiritual wealth that the saint had. The temple is always decorated with a wealth of flowers, which also surround the beautiful stone idol of Sai Baba.
This main complex is divided into various zones that should be visited. The main attraction is the Samadhi Mandir. This is the burial site of the saint carved in marble and covered in a beautiful mantle.
The temple’s daily schedule is fixed, with a morning aarti at 4 AM and closes at 10:45 after the night aarti. I was able to attend the midday aarti at noon after which, we adjourned to the Gurusthan. This is the spot under a large neem tree where Sai Baba was first seen meditating.
While the outer premises of the temple are small, it also includes the Samadhis of all the villagers who lived at that time. The complex also houses a museum that includes all the personal belongings of Sai Baba.
The temple holds a Pothi reading in the mandir at 4 PM and a Dhoop Aarti at sunset. The timings of other aarti and readings can be found on their website. When you’re creating your itinerary for the Sai Baba Temple, plan to attend at least one aarti and one reading.
I stayed for the night aarti before adjourning to the room I had booked in a nearby hotel.
Day 2: Dwarkamai and Chavadi
Dwarkamai, the famous mosque, is the place where Sai Baba often meditated. Chavadi was originally a village meeting place or court. However, the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust has acquired the premises where visitors can sit and meditate.
It is believed that meditating here can bring forth Shri Sai Baba’s face and his smile. People often meditate for weeks on end. While I didn’t have the time, I meditated for half an hour and have never felt so peaceful or close to God in my entire life.
I spent two days in Shirdi before using a cab booking app to book my return trip to Pune. While you can squeeze your trip in a day, I recommend spending at least two days in Shirdi to understand the place’s spirituality and see the simple, quaint life that Shri Sai Baba led.