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Shani Shingnapur

Shani Shingnapur or Sonai is a village in the state of Maharashtra. It is situated in the Nevasa taluka in the district of Ahmednagar. The village is most well known for its temple of Shani - the Hindu Deity of the planet (or graha) Saturn. Shingnapur is around 35 km from Ahmednagar.

Shingnapur is famous for the curious fact that no building or house in the area has doors - only doorframes are there. In spite of this, there is no theft in the village. Villagers have never the need to keep their valuables locked.

History and Mythology

The Villagers believe the holy structure is a "Jagrut Devasthan" (alive temple) as the god is very active. Their belief is that Shanidev punishes anyone who may be attempting theft. The deity is a "Swayambhu" (a self-evolved deity) that has emerged by itself from earth in the form of a black but huge stone. Although there is no real record, it is locally believed that the Swayambhu Shanaishwara statue was discovered in the ancient past by the inhabitants of the then local village. Devotees believe it has been in existence since at least from the Kali yuga.

The tale of Swayambhu idol has been handed down through generations by the word of mouth. It states that when a Shepherd touched it with a rod, the stone began to bleed. All the shepherds were shocked. Very soon the entire village gathered around the rock to witness the miracle. During the night, Lord Shanaishwara appeared in the dreams of the most spiritual and pious of all the shepherds.

He spoke to the shepherd saying that he is "Shanaishwara". He said that the unique black stone that was discovered is in fact his Swayambhu form. Then, the pious shepherd asked the lord if he should build a temple. The Lord Shani said that he has no need for a ceiling as the entire sky is his ceiling and he would rather prefer to sit under the open sky. He then requested the shepherd to perform pooja daily and 'Tailabhisheka' on every Saturday. He promised the shepherd that the whole village will never have to fear dacoits or burglars or thieves.

Hence, Lord Shanaishwara is seen even today out open in the yard without a roof of any kind. Up until this day, none of the houses, shops and temples has any doors. Even the post office does not have a door and there are no locks as well. Out of reverence and faith to Shani, no structure situated within a one kilometre radius of the temple has either doors or locks. No burglary has ever occurred in the village of Shani Shingnapur. The few who have tried to steal have died vomiting blood in the very few minutes after their acts and much before they were able to pass the boundary. There are others who are said to have received severe punishments like long sicknesses or mental derangement etc.

The Shrine

The shrine consists of a fifty six inch tall black rock, which has been installed upon an open platform. This represents Lord Shani. A Trishula (or trident) has been kept alongside the image and there is a Nandi (bull) image positioned to the south. In front of it are small images of the Lord Shiva and Lord Hanuman.


Shani Shingnapur is generally visited by 3500-4000 pilgrims every day, seeking Lord Shaneswara's favour. The place is the busiest on Saturdays as this day is considered to be the best day to worship Lord Shani. The Saturdays falling on the day of the ‘Amavasya’ (the new moon day) always sees tens of thousands of pilgrims seeking his blessings. At times, the number of pilgrims swell up to 3,00,000 on this day.

On this day, the village generally holds a large fair to honour the deity. An even bigger festival is organized on the new moon days occurring on Saturdays. The Devotees bathe the image of Lord Shani's using water and oil. They offer flowers and pay homage to him. Palanquin processions of Shanidev are also held during the fair on this day. One other significant festival celebrated is the birthday of Lord Shani - Shani Jayanti.

The shrine of Lord Shani has gained a lot of popularity due to the old film ‘Surya Putra Shanidev’ which was made by the noted film producer Gulshan Kumar.

How to Reach

Shani Shingnapur is only about 35 Kms (or 22 mi) from the city of Ahmednagar.  It is about a 160 Kms (99 mi) northeast of the city of Pune and is 84 Kms (52 mi) away from Aurangabad. The closest airport is the one at Aurangabad which is about 90 Kms (56 mi) from Shani Shingnapur. The nearest railway station is Srirampur Station. Its distance from Mumbai is 265 Kms (165 mi) by road. It can be reached from Shirdi, which is another religious location in Maharashtra. It is 65 km away from Shani Shingnapur by road.

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