Located in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, the hamlet of Shani Shingnapur is famous for the temple dedicated to Hindu god Saturn. A quaint custom of not locking doors of their houses followed by the locals; has also made it a popular tourist destination. The villagers believe that the temple is a ‘jagrit devasthan’ which means the temple is alive and god safeguards the temple and the nearby region. It is believed that god punishes anybody who attempts to steal. So potent is the fear of God Saturn that despite the absence of doors, there are no reports of thefts in the village.
There are no idols in the shrine. A black rock, 5.5 ft high, stands on an open platform symbolizing the god. Shrines to Lord Shiva and Hanuman are also present. Due to the nearly crime free record in the region the country’s first ‘lockless’ bank branch opened here in 2011. The bank doors remain open at all times.
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The temple is visited on a daily basis by almost 50,000 visitors but this number increases by six times to over three lakh people on ‘amavasya’ (new moon day), which is believed to be the most auspicious day to please Lord Shani. The temple authorities organize a fair to honour the god, which is a big affair if the full moon day falls on a Saturday. Saturday is the day dedicated to the Saturn god. An image of the deity is placed in a palanquin and a procession taken out with great pomp and show.There are no accommodation options but you can get a wide variety of options in Shirdi, located about 70 km northwest.
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There are a few food stalls that serve snacks and tea but there are no restaurants or eateries. The best tome to visit Shani Shingnapur is between January and March.