My wish to visit to Shirdi was fulfilled on 27th Oct 2018. The train from Delhi reached Manmad station at about 5.30 AM. Reached Shirdi at 7.00 AM. Booked our accommodation at Sai Ashram managed by Sai Trust. The accommodation was neat and clean. Inside the Ashram lot of facilities provided to devotees by Sai Trust like subsidised food, free dharshan tickets and free distribution of prasad almost throughout the day. Separate queues for Senior citizens and for those booked through online. It is the most organized temple I have ever seen.
Sai Baba of Shirdi, was an spiritual master who is regarded by his devotees as a saint, a fakir, a satguru and an incarnation of Lord Shiva. He is revered by both his Hindu and Muslim devotees during, as well as after his lifetime.
According to accounts from his life, he preached the importance of realization of the self, and criticized love towards perishable things. His teachings concentrate on moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, and devotion to the God and guru. Sai Baba also did hate distinction based on religion or caste.
We also visited Shani Shingnapur. The village is known for its popular temple of Shani, the Hindu god associated with the planet Saturn. Here the deity is installed in in the open with no roof over it.
Shingnapur is also famous for the fact that no house in the village has doors, only door frames. Villagers believe that god Shani punishes anyone attempting theft.
The deity here is “Swayambhu” (self-evolved deity) that is self emerged from earth in form of black, imposing stone. Though no one knows the exact period, it is believed that the Shanaishwara statue was found by shepherds of the then local hamlet.
After our visit to Shirdi, we visited Nashik, an ancient holy city of Maharashtra situated on the banks of Godavari River. Nashik is a city of its own distinction as the whole city is surrounded by beautiful mountains. The Kumbh Mela is celebrated here every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad and Maha Kumbh takes place every twelve years at four places in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. According to the Puranas, it is believed that Kumbh derives its name from an immortal pot of nectar, which the devtas (Gods) and demons fought over. The four places where the nectar fell are at the banks of river Godavari in Nashik, river Kshipra in Ujjain, river Ganges in Haridwar and at Triveni Sangam of Ganga, Yamuna and invisible Saraswati River in Allahabad
In Nashik we first visited the Pandavleni Caves which is at the top of a hill. It was amazing to see the beautiful as well as artistic caves at the top of the mountain.
Next we visited Saptashrungi temple situated 60 kilometres.. According to Hindu traditions, the goddess Saptashrungi Nivasini dwells within the seven mountain peaks. (Sapta means seven and shrung means peaks.) There are 510 steps to climb the gad.Devotees visit this place in large numbers every day. The view from this temple is really awesome.
River Godavari flows through Nashik and its Northern part is called as Panchavati. It is said that lord Shri Ram and Sita along with Laxman stayed at Panchavati for some time. Thus Panchavati has gained holy importance. There are five Banyan (Vad) trees and hence the area is called Panchavati.Nearby is Sita Gumpha (cave) where Sita is said to have stayed for some time.The sages used to meditate in close proximity with the lush green nature. Laxmana – brother of Rama – used to stay here and cut the nose of Shurpanakha – sister of Ravana. This place has temples of Laxmana and Hanuman. The most important place in Panchavati is Ramkund. It is so called because Lord Rama is believed to have taken bath there. We also visited the Kala Ram temple.
After visiting Panchavati, we proceeded to Triambakeshwar Temple, Nashik. It is a beautiful temple with architectural excellence. As per the Shiv Purana, once Brahama (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of preservation) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiv pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiv appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshiped till the end of eternity.