Shani Shinganapur is a small village in the state of Maharashtra, where the famous temple of Shri Shani Bhagwan is located. It attracts thousands of devotees daily from all over the country and abroad and one can witness a bee line of tourist buses, cars and share auto-rickshaws plying on the high way leading to this village. The lord Shaneshwar, who is considered all powerful among the Navagrahas, is the presiding deity of this temple.
The image of the Lord is a self manifested (swayambu) one in a rectangular bar like shape in black stone, representing the formless nature of the deity.
Astronomical significance : Saturn, the slow moving Planet takes 30 years to go round all the 12 Rasis in the Zodiac or it takes two and half years to move from one Rasi to another. Normally, a person passes through three cycles of the planet Saturn in his life time.
There is a mythological story for the slow movement of the Lord Shani Bhagwan.
The Sun God or Surya and Sandna (the daughter of Daksha Prajapati) are Shaneswara’s parents. Sandna and Surya had two sons, Yama Dharmaraja and Shaneshwar and four daughters, Tapti, Bhadra, Kalindi and Savitri.
Sandna, finding it difficult to live with Surya because of his intense heat and light, created her own image Sanvarna, to replace her and to perform the duties of a faithful wife to her husband. Sandna then left for Himalayas to perform a penance.
One day, Shaneswar was very hungry and he asked his mother to give him food. Sanvarna asked him to wait for some time till she made her first offering of food to God. But Shaneswar insisted on serving him first and in anger kicked his mother Sanvarna. She in return cursed him that he would become lame. By her action, Surya found out that she is not his real mother for, no mother would curse her son this bad. Sanvarna accepted her guilt and pleaded for mercy. However Surya said, a curse is a curse, and Shaneswar became lame and started limping.
About the Village Shani Shinganapur: A unique feature of Shingnapur is that there are no doors or door frames or locks for the houses and the people believe that it is due to the presence of the temple of Shaneswara, there are no thefts or crimes taking place in this village. In January 2011, the United Commercial (UCO) Bank opened a ‘lockless’ branch in the village, the first of its kind in the country, taking note of the near-zero crime rate in the region. The bank has doors but they will always remain open. However, it was reported that the bank officials had taken adequate measures for the safety of the lockers and important documents to fulfill the mandatory legal requirements.
.About the Temple: The shrine of Shani Bhagwan is open to the elements of weather and the idol is kept on a raised platform, where the devotees themselves used to touch and perform abishegam to the deity earlier. But now, they can only circumambulate the image and offer the oil for abishegam in a tank kept for the purpose near the platform from where the oil is sent continuously to a dripping vessel hanging above the image of the deity.
It is for this reason that the shops near the temple are selling ‘til thel’ or gingili oil in various containers of different shapes and sizes with the puja items for the Lord Shaneswar.
Also, there is a shrine for Lord Dattatraya and a tomb for Saint Shri Udasi Baba in the temple.
Location: Shani Shiganapur is in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra state. It is about 35 km from Ahmednagar and 84 km from Aurangabad. Shinganapur is well connected by Road and Rail. The nearest airports are Mumbai, Aurangabad and Pune. From any of these airports, one can hire a cab or van to Shani Shinganapur.
The nearest airport is at Aurangabad, which is 90 km from Shani Shinganapur and the nearest railway station is Srirampur.
Distance from Mumbai is about 330 km by road. It can also be accessed from Shirdi, another important religious place in Maharashtra, and is about 65 km by road.
A travel tip: Generally people visiting, Shiidi or Shani Shinganapur combine Ranjangaon also in their trip. where there is a temple for Maha Ganapathi (Ashta Ganapathi) is situated.
Pune is the well connected by air, rail and road with the rest of the country and one can plan the trip starting from here and go to Ranjangaon Mahaganapathi temple and then to Sriridi, and stay over night after the darshan of Sri Saibaba and return via Shani Shingnapur and reach Pune in the evening
Additional Information: A small reference is necessary here about the other prominent temples of Shaneshwar. One such important temple is at Tirunallaru, Tamilnadu, 5 km west of Karaikal, where a large number of devotees throng daily for darshan. The number increases to several thousands at the time of the transition of the planet Saturn. This temple at Tirunallaru is dedicated to Lord Siva, where he is known as Shri Dharbarenyeswarar and Shaneshwar is worshipped in a separate shrine in the temple. Here Shani Bhagwan is facing the Eastern direction, which is not a common orientation as he usually faces the Western direction in most other temples. It is for this reason he is considered as a benefactor and not dreaded as an evil doer, as portrayed in several stories of the scriptures. Also, another specialty of this temple is, there are no Navagrahas.
Om Nilanjana samabhasam Raviputram Yamagrajam I
Chaya martanda sambhutam tam namami sanaiscaram II
(This writer visited the Shani Shingnapur temple on 31st Dec 2011)