The temple of Shri Sai Baba at Shirdi is the most popular among Baba temples in the country and quite rightly so. The temple contains the Samadhi of Baba and is visited by millions of devotees each year. Bhagwan Shri Sai Baba is believed to bestow happiness on his devotees and each year lakhs of devotees, especially from the south, pay a visit to Shirdi upon fulfillment of their desires. The most interesting aspect of this temple is that people of all faiths worship the Lord here. As a matter of fact Shri Sai Baba cured people of their sickness and granted them freedom from worries. The fact that the Lord lived here as recently as the last century only adds to the religious fervor.
History & Legends associated with the temple:
There are no historical records about the birth place and other personal information regarding Shri Sai Baba. He came to Shirdi in his teens and soon started his teachings and many scholars were astonished to know the depth of his knowledge. The teen apparently stayed at Shirdi for three years before suddenly disappearing one day. There are records that date his arrival to Shirdi to 1854 AD.
Shri Baba stayed with the family of a village officer named Chand patil in Aurangabad district after impressing him with his mysterious knowledge. One day, the family of Chand Patil, started for Shirdi for the marriage of his wife's nephew and Baba came along with them and stayed back at Shirdi ever since. Upon reaching Shirdi, the family and relatives of Chand Patil got down at a banyan tree near Khandoba's temple. Bhagat Mhalsapati, the owner of the land, on seeing Baba getting down there shouted "Ya Sai" mysteriously and somehow the whole party started to call him Sai. Thus the fakir came to be known as Sai Baba.
Baba's popularity spread like a wild fire from then on soon there were many people visiting Shirdi to seek the blessings of this mysterious saint. He cured many of their ailments, solved their problems and fulfilled their desires. Baba is said to have met many saints of his time around 1865 AD and did invaluable service for the benefit of his devotees until his Maha Samadhi in 1918 AD. Legend has it that Baba still continues to look after those that come to seek his blessings even today. The place under a Neem tree where he used to teach became popular as Gurustan. The present temple was built at the site after some enhancements in 1941 AD. Gurustan literally translates to Guru's place. Baba later moved to an abandoned mosque just outside the village which went on to become the popular Dwarakamai. At the turn of the twentieth century, Baba shocked Nanasaheb Chadorkar with his knowledge of the "Gita" and continued to display great humanitarian acts and impossible feats until his Samadhi. It is said that Baba appeared to Das Ghanu in his dream and asked him to cover his mortal remains with flowers. Bapusaheb Jog performed some of Baba's rites on the banks of the sacred Ganges at Prayaag.
Many of Baba's personal belongings like the vessels he used to cook food and drink water apart from the famous Udi stone can still be found in Shirdi.