Shani Shingnapur

Shanaieshwar Temple at Shingnapur widely known as "Shani Shingnapur" houses the deity of Lord Shani (Lord of planet Saturn) and is the most revered temple of Shani Dev in the world. Its not a conventional temple architecture, but a single 5 feet black stone mounted on a raised platform of 3-4 feet in an open environment and I think this is the only Shani Dev temple in the world where he resides in the form of stone instead as a sculpt. 
This village lies in Ahmednagar district, a 2hour drive from Shirdi. There are no direct local buses as I know and is accessible by plenty of Qualis transporters near the temple. They charge around Rs 70-80 per head for complete return trip. You will cross a check post just around 10km before the village which will charge you Rs15 for four wheelers paid by the cab driver, Rs 2 will be levied per head on entering the village premises paid by you.

History says this deity self appeared in the form of this black stone which floated along with the flood which happened around 160 years ago in the village Shingnapur and got stuck in a tree around 150 meters away from the village. This was then spotted by a local shepherd who then tried to free it from the tree by poking it. To his surprise the stone started bleeding as a result of his act, frightened by this he notified villagers who also witnessed  this un-usual event. On consecutive days several villagers have had the similar dreams in which Lord Shani acclaimed the stone to be himself and instructed the villagers to consecrate this within the village and that too without any terrace/roof over the Idol. Villagers followed the instruction and laid down the deity on the place where it is today. Witnessing this divine event, villagers started worshiping Shani Dev and also decided to keep their home/shops doorless which is alike an open environment just like this temple which is in open environment. This become a dictate for all residents of this village to not to have any doors in any of their rooms and even toilets, be it a school, post office, shops etc none should have a door. Though for privacy they can have curtain but that too should be transparent. This dictate is followed followed only in this village, outside near by villages doesn't need to follow the same. Time has witnessed that none of the robbery has made to success though legend says that even if theft happened the culprit has become blind and the stolen articles were always came back to its place. These events has increased the belief/faith of villagers on this deity to manifold and today all of them have a singular faith in this God and are living in a belief that Shani Dev is protecting this village from any ill effect which seems to be true.

The presence of this God is felt immensely here as compared to other temples in India for the same deity. As per the stats over 25000 people visits here per day and during yatra days  this goes to over Lakhs on single day. I took a shared Maruti Omini and reached the temple in 2 hrs. 
One big market place (see pic right side) has been built for visitor where ground floors are occupied by shops and first are for lodging. As expected none of them had doors and even public toilets. These transporters have a dealing with the shopkeepers and always park their vehicle on their parking area. Shopkeeper will explain you the rituals to be performed. Rituals says, the Men if they want to pay obeisance to the deity then they need to be topless and to wear only  orange colored cloth in lungi fashion (wearing in form of Skirt, though they allow undergarments to wear). You need to take shower wearing this cloth and needs to step in the temple as wet, this market place has one public shower hall (they charge Rs 2 for that). Womens are not allowed to mount on deity platform and only can offer prayers from the distant. 
Now every regional place gives localities a tremendous opportunity for money making and this place is no exception. They have fixed puja items for Rs 100 and few others which is Rs 100+. They made it mandatory that the orange cloth only be given along with puja item and not separately. Here you are trapped since most of the visitors will not be carrying this cloth they have to buy the puja items for this cloth. The cloth will be returned back to the same shop. Mustard oil is the main puja item which is always offered to this deity and these shop keepers (who rent out the cloth) don't keep the oil, they are sold by separate shopkeepers who don't rent out cloth, so in nutshell you will paying for the cloth and the oil to two separate shopkeeper. A typical team work example in religious place.
You can keep your stuff/clothes in the cab on which you came, and yes don't worry about your valuables or wallets. None of the people in this area will dare to touch anything which doesn't belongs to them.

 

I took bath the wearing the lungi and headed for the temple. On left is the entrance to this temple and you can see people in orange lungi. Mobile and Camera is allowed to be carried but not photo shoot inside the premises. No entrance fee. Saturday is main day of this Deity and since I went on Friday so didn't faced much problem. Only mustard oil and flowers is offered to the Deity rest will have to be donated on the entrance itself, shown on the pic right side. There is separate queue for those who are going to offer Oil (orange clothed Men's) all others need to proceed through left most separate queue (both Womens and Mens). We proceed further and finally reached near the Idol. Offered my prayers, flowers and you need to pour oil over the Idol. Ritual has, one should not look back till you are completely stepped out of the platform. Once I stepped out, I spent few minutes starring the Idol and was looking for an opportunity to click the deity through my camera which is hanging in my topless neck. With my nervous hands I clicked few (see the first pic).

Completed the darshan and back to the cab, returned the lungi and headed back to shirdi. Maharastra is the biggest producer of sugarcane which you can witness along the route, both side of the road has sugar cane cultivation and so does local sugar juice shops.


Felt like an important accomplishment of my life. I headed back to Shirdi, spent night there and next morning head for Nasik.

This is after the main entrance.



2 comments:

Pune Travel

Yes its a very nice place to visit, great post - keep posting

Thanks,
Jyotika

Era Chandok

Helpful information. A must visit place too. For more information on Shani Dev check http://navagrahashanitemple.blogspot.in/

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