Shani Shingnapur, also known as Sonai, is a village situated in Nevasa Taluka of Ahmednagar district. It is located 40 km away from its district headquarters. The village is popularly known for its Shani Temple. Shani is a Hindu God of Saturn planet.
This place is also famous for the curious fact that no house in the area has doors – only doorframes are there. Peoples residing here have never the need to keep their valuables under lock and key. Locals believe that Lord Shani punishes anyone who will attempt theft in this particular area.
The Villagers believes that the holy structure is a “Jagrut Devasthan” as the god is very active today also. The deity is a “Swayambhu” (a self-evolved deity) that has appeared by itself from earth in the form of a huge and colossal black stone. Although there is no real record, it is said that the “Swayambhu Shanaishwara” statue was found out in the ancient past by the inhabitants of the then local village. Pilgrims believe that it has been in existence from the start of Kali Yuga.
The tale of Swayambhu idol has been famously prevailed through generations by the word of mouth. It states that, once a Shepherd touched a stone with a rod, it began to bleed. All the shepherds were shell shocked. Soon, the entire village assembled around the rock to witness the miracle. That same night, Lord Shanaishwara appeared in the dreams of the most spiritual and religious shepherd among all.
Lord spoke to the shepherd saying that he is “Shanaishwara” and the unique black stone that was unearthed, is in fact his Swayambhu form. Then, the devout shepherd asked the lord if he should construct a temple over there. Lord Shani said that he has no need for a ceiling as the entire sky is his ceiling and he would rather prefer to reside under the open sky. He then solicited the shepherd to perform pooja daily and ‘Tailabhisheka’ on every Saturday. He also assured the shepherd that the whole village will never have to fear dacoits or thieves.
Till now, none of the houses, shops, temples and has any doors. Even the post office of the village does not have a door and there are no locks also. Out of admiration and faith to Shani, no structure situated within 1 km radius of the temple has either doors or locks. No robbery has ever occurred in the village of Shani Shingnapur. But in recent times, there have been reports of thefts in the year 2010 and 2011 of about Rs.35000 and Rs.50000 respectively. The few who have tried to loot have died vomiting blood in the very few minutes after their bad acts and much before they were able to cross the boundary. There are others who are believed to have received severe punishments like long sicknesses, mental problems and cancer to name a few. In 2011, the United Commercial Bank (UCO) opened a ‘lockless’ branch in the village, the first of its kind in the country, because of the near-zero crime rate in the region.
Lord Shani shrine consists of a fifty six inch tall black rock, which has been installed upon an open platform. A Trishula (or trident) has been kept alongside it and there is a Nandi (bull) statue positioned to the south. In front of it, are residing the small statues of Lord Shiva and Lord Hanuman.
Shani Shingnapur is generally visited by 3500-4000 pilgrims every day. This place is the busiest on Saturdays as this day is believed 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 devotees seeking their blessings. At times, the number of pilgrims has also rose up to 3 lakhs on this day.
On this day, the village basically arranges a large fair to honor the deity. An even larger festival is organized on the new moon days falling on Saturdays. Shani Jayanti is also the other significant festival celebrated here.
Shani Shingnapur Temple
Sonai Post, Nevasa Taluka,
Taluka: Nevasa Area: Ahmednagar
Website: www.shanidev.com Phone: 02427-238110
Timings: 5 AM- 11 PM (Open on All Days)
State: Maharashtra District: Ahmednagar
Languages : Marathi, Hindi, English Weather: 15°C to 38°C (Max.)
Best Time to Visit: October-April
STD Code: 02427 Pin Code: 414105
Pune Airport is the nearest one, 150 km away and is well connected to major cities of India and abroad.
The nearest railway station is at Ahmednagar, which lies on the Manmad- Daund rail route and is well connected to all the major cities of India.
MSRTC and various private travels operate regular buses that ply to Shirdi from the major cities of state. From there, you can reach Shani Shingnapur through mini bus or jeep. The best way to here is by your own means of transportation like car or private taxis.
Shirdi – 73 km
Nashik– 144 km
Pune – 161 km
Mumbai – 288 km
Surat – 370 km