Address: Mauli Nagar, Shirdi, Maharashtra 423109
Contact Number: +91-2423-258-500
Timings: 4.15am to 11pm
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. Sai Baba seemed to like growing plants and in his early days he cleared and levelled this land, which had been used as dumping ground. Using seeds that he had brought from Rahata, he planted it with jasmine and marigold. For about three years Baba would water the plants every day and distribute the flowers to the local temples. Now that his tomb is here and Baba is receiving so many devotees, it seems that he is nurturing plants of a different nature – and still sowing seeds.
The shrine was built by a wealthy devotee from Nagpur, Gopalrao Booty. The Sri Sai Satcharitra describes him as a “multimillionaire”. He was introduced to Baba by S. B. Dhumal about ten years before Baba’s Mahasamadhi.
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.
Excited by his vision, Booty immediately woke up and pondered its significance. He noticed that Shama had tears in his eyes and asked him what the matter was. It transpired that Shama had just had the same dream and was deeply touched by it. He told Booty, Baba came near me and said distinctly, “Let there be a wada with a temple so that I can satisfy the desires of all.” Together then they drew up some rough sketches, showed them to Dixit for approval, then took them straightaway to Baba to ask his permission to go ahead with the plan. Baba responded warmly and gave his blessing to the project.
The work was begun around 1915. It was built in stone and was therefore known as dagadi (stone) wada. Shama supervised the construction of the basement, ground floor and well. Later, Bapusaheb took over job of supervising the work.
When Baba passed the site on his way to Lendi, he would sometimes offer suggestions. As the building progressed, Booty asked Baba if he could include a temple on the ground floor with an statue of Murlidhar (a form of Lord Krishna). Baba readily gave permission, and said, “When the temple is built, we shall inhabit it and ever afterwards live in joy.” Shama then asked Baba if that was an auspicious time to start the work and Baba replied that it was. Shama immediately fetched and broke a coconut as Mahurat (good omen) and the work was begun. The foundation was quickly laid, a pedestal prepared and an order placed for the idol. However, the significance of Baba’s comment was appreciated a few years later.
ACTIVITIES IN THE CURRENT TIMES:
At any given point, the shrine temple is full of devotees eagerly queuing up to have Baba’s darshan. People carry flowers, garlands, sweets, or fruit to offer Baba at his Samadhi. Some may have personal items- such as a shawl, book, key to new possession, etc, for which they want to get Baba’s blessing by offering it at his feet and having it touch his tomb.
“Sri Satchidananda Sadguru Sainath Maharaj ki Jai !” (Hail the great Sadguru, Lord Sai, who is being-consciousness-bliss!) is the chant on the lips of most of His devotees while most others may sing bhajan or whisper prayers.
At busy times, especially during festivals, the queue for darshan used to stretch for hundreds of meters along the village streets, though the recently constructed Queue Complex has changed this. People may wait up to eight hours just for the opportunity to pay brief homage to their Lord. The atmosphere of fervent and one-pointed devotion reaches its zenith here. “Attention one and all!” commands the noon arati psalm, “Come, come quickly and make obeisance to Sai Baba!” This is exactly what the devotees are hastening to do, and to be part of this torrent of emotion is a powerful experience.