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A large number of spiritual sights and pilgrimage centres are located in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Home to historic temples, beautiful churches, gigantic mosques, and ashrams, the state caters to people of various beliefs and religions. By Upasana Singh

1. Shirdi Sai Baba Temple

 

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Known as the home of the late 19th-century saint Shri Sai Baba, this temple in Shirdi is a popular pilgrimage attraction. It draws people from all walks of life who believe in the power of the venerated saint for their wishes to get granted.

Although Sai Baba’s origins are unknown, several legends and beliefs suggest that he was born not far from Shirdi. According to locals, a mysterious fakir (religious ascetic) visited the city in western India and left villagers wonderstruck with his magical abilities. With a simple style of dress that was typical of Sufi clothing, he led an ascetic life and used to sit motionless under a neem tree, meditating and sitting in an asana (a body posture). He treated the sick as a local hakim (physician), delivered spiritual teachings to his visitors, and recommended the reading of sacred scriptures of the Hindu and Islam religion. Currently, all the places where Sai Baba used to reside have been turned into pilgrim centres. A trip to Shirdi is a must to know more about this spiritual master.

2. Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir

 

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This is one of the richest temples in India that is located in Prabhadevi, Mumbai. With a small mandap (porch-like structure) and a shrine for Siddhi Vinayak (Ganesha who grants your wish), wooden doors of the temple are carved with images of Ashtavinayak—eight manifestations of Ganesha in Maharashtra. The inner roof of the sanctum is plated with gold and the exterior of the temple consists of a dome, which lights up and changes colours in the evening. It is especially beautiful to see this temple during the annual Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

People across the globe have been known to visit the temple including famous personalities such as Apple CEO, Tim Cook. So, next time you are in Mumbai for a spiritual retreat, add this temple to your list of must-visit places.

3. Mount Mary Church

 

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The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, commonly known as the Mount Mary Church stands on a hillock, overlooking the Arabian Sea. Although the current church is around 100 years old, the history behind the statue of the Virgin Mary dates back to the 16th century when Jesuit priests from Portugal brought the statue and constructed a chapel at the current location. In 1738, a raid by the Marathas destroyed the church. However, it was later rebuilt and restored.

The best time to visit the church is during the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary that is celebrated on the first Sunday after September 8 in honour of the Virgin Mary’s birthday. The feast is followed by week-long celebrations, locally known as the Bandra Fair.

4. Hazur Sahib Gurudwara

 

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Hazur Sahib depicts the soul of the city of Nanded in Maharashtra. It is from here that the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji left his earthly life. Stretched over a wide area, the temple is made of white marble, decorated floors, and a dome adorned with gold. It is one of the holiest of the five Takhats — places that are of primary importance in the Sikh religion. Located on the banks of river Godavari, one can spend hours in its serene ambience. This place of Sikh worship is also different from others as here all ancient customs are still practised. Sandalwood tilak is applied to the foreheads of priests and local devotees who come to visit the gurudwara. Moreover, Asia’s second-largest laser-ray show has been started at Gobind Bagh near the main gurudwara, which showcases the lives of the 10 Sikh Gurus. Such an experience must be witnessed once in your lifetime.

5. Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga

 

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Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the town of Trimbak, Nashik. One can see the extraordinary feature of the jyotirlinga here, depicting the three faces embodying Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Rudra. There are various popular myths and legends behind the history of the temple. One of them is that the jewelled crown which covers the lingas (a votary object that symbolises God Shiva) and is placed over the gold mask of Tridev (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh) is from the age of the Pandavas. Every Monday, the crown is displayed from 04:00 pm to 05:00 pm. It is also believed that Peshwa Nanasaheb lost a bet on whether the stone surrounding the jyotirlinga is hollow from the inside or not. After the stone was proved to be hollow, the Peshwa built the marvellous temple out of it. Whether you are a believer in ancient sagas or not, a spiritual trip to Nashik city is incomplete without visiting this renowned temple.

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