Shirdi- the city of Sai Baba is visited daily by a large numbers of devotees. Drive 74 Kilometers west to the city passing by the sugarcane fields and you will reach a town which is famous for its very own peculiar reasons. Shani Shingnapur is the village where stands erect an iron and stone slab out in the open, worshiped daily by a large number of devotees.
What makes the village even more bizarre is that the village has no doors.
Why? The curiosity is what puts this place on your Must-See List.
Apparently, the iron slab and no door situation have a connection. Shani Shingnapur, a village inhabited by population of 5000 odd people, is blessed by the iron-stone slab to protect the place from all the dangers. The iron stone slab is the manifestation of Lord Shani, the lord ruling Saturn. Any person who tries to steal in the village will be cursed with Saade-Saati, an inauspicious period of seven years. If someone tries to put doors on their home, bad things are bound to happen to the people of house. Even the banks do not have any doors here. Unbelievable, isn’t it? But the place does exist.
The legend somehow goes like this.
About 300 years ago, an iron and stone slab washed up in the nearby river during the flood. When the cattle herders poked it with a stick, the slab began oozing blood. In the vision of a villager that night came Lord Shani who revealed that the slab was his manifestation. He told him to put no doors on their houses anymore as he would protect the villagers from any ill-will or danger.
Ever since then, the custom has followed and the significance of the place has increased with time. The 5-foot iron slab stands erect in the open. There is no roof above the idol because mighty Lord Shani is so powerful that he cannot be contained in a shelter. There is a lamp beside the idol that burns 24/7 and a tree whose branches do not grow over the idol.
What is also unique about the temple is that women are not allowed to worship the idol, a custom that has been followed ever since the slab was erected. Men are supposed to take bath before they enter the temple premises.
Encounter with god here will make you feel safe and feared at the same time, a belief in Lord Shani that is so strong and also uncanny. Shani Shingnapur is a place where houses have no doors, there are trees but no shadow, there are gods but no temples, there is fear but no enemies.
Local Food Tip: After you are done with the prayer and offering, head to the local tea stall for some local staple breakfast vada pav served with hot chili garlic dip. And dhakkan chai, the tea cups that are as small as a bottle cap. You might end up taking enough tea shots to get high on nicotine. Also, enjoy sugarcane juice fresh from the fields and coconut water on your way.
“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled.”
A fervent writer with soul of a gypsy.