Part 16 -Shirdi and Panchavati -108 Famous Hindu Shrines in Maharashtra (Post No.12,017)


Post No. 12,017

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Part 16

71. Shirdi Sai baba Temple

Shirdi is located at a distance of 122 Km from Nasik in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, Shirdi is the home of Sai Baba. It is believed that Sai Baba arrived at Shirdi in 1858 and spent 60 years of his life here until he attained salvation in 1918. His Samadhi attracts a huge crowd all through the year.

Apart from his shrine, there are many small temples in the complex, such as Chavadi, Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai.

The temple offers different darshans and aartis throughout the day. The temple opens at 4 AM and has darshans during the morning, noon, and evening slots. The last Arti is at 10 pm.

The world’s largest solar cooker is operated at the Shirdi Bhojanalaya. It prepares food for thousands of devotees every day. The timings of Bhojanalaya are 10 AM to 10 PM.

Baba has promised, “I shall be active and vigorous even from the tomb,”

At busy times, especially during festivals, the queue for darshan used to stretch for long distance and People may wait up to eight hours just for Darshan.

The shrine which houses Baba’s tomb was originally constructed as a wada (large private house) during Baba’s last years in his physical body. It is built on some land that Baba had tended as a garden.

The shrine was built by a wealthy devotee from Nagpur, Gopalrao Booty. The wada was originally intended as a rest house and mandir. The inspiration for the building came to Booty in a dream, when he was sleeping beside his friend and fellow devotee, Shama, Baba appeared and told him to build a house and temple. The work was begun around 1915. But Saibaba’s health rapidly deteriorated and on 15 October 1918, he attained Samadhi.

A photograph of Sai Baba was placed on a throne on the platform of the tomb. It remained there until the statue was installed in 1954. There is an interesting story about the marble statue we see today.

The statue, which has become such a famous and well-loved image of Baba, was not installed until 1954. Some white marble arrived from Italy at the Bombay docks, but nobody seemed to know anything about it who it was for, or why it had come. In the absence of a claimant, the dockyard auctioned it and the purchaser offered it to the Shirdi Sansthan (temple authorities). Impressed by the quality of the marble, they wanted to use it for an idol of Baba and gave the commission to a sculpture from Bombay, Balaji Vasant Talim. However, the latter had only one black and white photo of Baba as his model, and was struggling to get the likeness. One night Baba came to him in a dream, remarked on his difficulties and then showed him his face from various angles, encouraging Talim to study it thoroughly and remember it well. This gave Talim the fillip he needed .


The Display of Baba’s Belongings in Museum

In the Museum some things associated with Baba are on display. These include three pairs of sandals (though Baba was almost always barefoot), his folded clothes in a glass fronted cupboard, cooking pots and a silver palanquin.

Many clay pipes and earthen vessels used by Baba are also seen here. The coins given by Baba to Mahalsapati, Khandoba’s temple priest, are seen. The idols of Muralidhar along with the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are seen here which were actually meant to be installed in Booty Mandir. But as per Baba’s wish this wada became baba’s Samadhi Mandir.



Chavadi means “village office”, and was the place where taxes were collected, village records kept and visiting officials put up. After Baba’s Maha samadhi the Sansthan acquired Chavadi, and until the late 1930s, used it for storing books and accommodating pilgrims. The village offices have long been relocated and Chavadi is kept as a shrine to Baba and is open to all.

Chavadi is also very significant to Sai devotees as it played a major role in the inception of formal worship of Baba. Once Baba started sleeping at Chavadi, the custom arose of offering regular arati to him on his arrival from the mosque. Inside Chavadi is a large portrait of Baba which was painted by Ambaram from Nausari in Gujarat after Baba had given him darshan in a dream in 1953. At the time, Ambaram was only eighteen years old.


72 Panchavati

Panchvati is situated on the left banks of sacred river Godavari in Nashik city.

Close to Kalaram temple there are some very old and lofty banyan trees which are believed to be sprung from five banyans which gave its name to Panchvati.The name ‘Panchvati’ is derived from the words Panch which means five and Vati which means banyan tree. This is the site where Sita Gumph or Sita’s Cave is situated . Kalaram temple , Kapaleshwar temple, Ganga Godavari temple, Sunder Narayan temple, Talkuteshwar temple,temple, NilkantheshwarGoraram mandir Murlidhar Mandir,Tilbhandeshwar mandir, Balaji temple, Sandvyachi devi temple, Vitthal temple, Pataleshwar temple,Naroshankar temple, Ramkund, Karthikswami temple,Dutondya maruti , Katya maruti temple, Panchmukhi Hanuman temple , Bhadrakali temple,Katpurthala monuments are located in and around Panchavati area. Nashik has earned name of the Banaras of western India due to large no of temples.

Panchavati is in the fiery forests of Dandakaranya along the flowing Godavari River.

Panchavati was the place where Rama, Lakshmana and Sita made their home while serving the exile. The trees could still be seen in the temple premises nearby Sita Gufaa.


73.Kalaram (Black Rama) Temple

Kalaram Mandir is situated within the Panchvati area of Nashik City.

This temple is supposed to stand on the spot where Lord Ram lived during his exile. It was built in 1782 by Sardar Rangrao Odhekar on the site of an old wooden temple. The work is said to have lasted twelve years, 2000 persons being daily employed. It is one of the finest modern temples of Ramji in western India. The temple has standing images of Lord Rama, Sita, Laxmana are of black stone and around 2 feet height. The temple is 70 ft high with beautifully sculptured idols of Lord Rama and Lady Sita, along with Lakshman in black stone, giving the temple its name.


74.Sita Gufaa (Guha=Cave):Panchavati

Sita Gufaa: Panchavati, Maharashtra The cave where Sita was staying when demon Ravana came to kidnap her, is located on the western door of the Kalaram temple. ‘Lakshman Rekha’ drawn by Lakshman for protection of Sita is located some one kilometer from the caves.

Sita gupha is situated in Panchawati area about 3 km away from the Nashik Central bus stand.

The deities of Ram, Seeta and Laxman are placed inside the first main gummpha. In the second small gupha there is a Shivling . The main reason attributed for the Shivling is that Seeta used to worship God Shiva and she never took her meals before worshiping him.

A room opposite to Seetagmupha is decorated with the scenes from Ramayana like Marich Vadha (i.e. Ram Killing Marich, the demon.), Seetaharan (the kidnapping of Seeta by Ravan).


75 Godavari River Sthala

River Banks of Godavari: The place is spot for the Kumbh Mela bathing and gets full of pilgrims from every corner of world during the occasion.

By Rail: After reaching Nashik Road Railway Station, passengers can take local transportation to North of Nashik, where now-heavily-populated Panchavati is located.

By Road: Nashik is connected to cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Nagpur, Mumbai, etc, thus easily reached by buses, cars and taxis.

( I visited Shirdi, Trayambakeshwar Temple, Panhavati, Kaalaa Raam temple, Muktidham temple, shin Shignapur Shiva and Sanaicharan (Saneesvar) temples in 2015- London swaminathan)

76.Khandoba Temple

This temple is situated on small hill in Deolali Cantonment area.

Shri Khandoba Maharaj is an incarnation of Lord Shiva and this temple dedicated to him is reportedly over 500 years (five hundred) old. Lord Shiva killed two demons Malla Daitya and Mani Daitya  and after killing them, Shiva relaxed on this hill and hence this temple is called ‘Vishramgadh’. The hill is popularly known as Khandobachi Tekadi.


77.Muktidham Temple

Muktidham marble temple is located at a distance of 9 km from Nashik Central Bus Station. It is one of the popular tourist attractions in the city of Nashik.

Muktidham Temple complex was built by Late Sri Jayram Bhai Bytco in 1971. An abode of most of the gods and goddesses of the Hindu religion, this splendid shrine displays the replica of all the 12 Jyotirlingas of India.

It is a magnificent piece of architecture, made with white marble from Makran in Rajasthan. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna .The walls of Krishna temple have paintings depicting scenes from life of Krishna and Mahabharata. These were painted by a noted painter Raghubir Mulgaonkar. Unique to this temple are eighteen chapters of Bhagavad-Gita written on the walls.

There are also idols of all major Hindu Gods and Goddesses like Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi, Rama, Lakshman, Sita, Hanuman, Durga, Ganesh. Further, the complex also houses a dharamshala, which can accommodate at least 200 pilgrims.

78.Tapovan Forest

Tapovana or the Forest of Austerities is located hardly 1.5 km on the downstream of Panchwati on Godavari river.

Once a part of the holy Dandakaranya forest, Tapovan is a pictorial spot and has a close association with the epic Ramayana. Lord Ram who is believed to have lived on fruits collected by Lakshmana from this forest. At this place Lakshmana cut the nose of Shurpanakha, the sister of Ravana . Therefore the city gets its name Nashik. This sacred place has temples of Ram Parnakuti, Laxmana. At the time of Sinhastha Kumbhamela majority of Sadhus camp at Tapovan .

Kapila Tirtha, Kushavart Thirtha, Panadava Caves with Buddhist sculptures, Jain temple, Mangi Tungi temple are all located near Nashik. One can spend a few days visiting all these places or even cover them in just 24 hours.

To be continued………………..

Tags- Nashik, Muktidham, Sita Gufa, Caves, Panchavati, Kala ram, Temple, Godavari, Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Five Banyan Trees, Shirdi, Sai baba, Samadhi

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