At a distance of 72 km from Shirdi and 44 km from Ahmednagar, Shani Shingnapur or Sonai is a village in Nevasa taluka of Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra. The village is known for its popular temple of Shani Mahadev, the Hindu god associated with the planet (graha) Saturn. This is one of the most popular Shani temples in India and also among the famous pilgrimage places to visit near Pune.
The idol of Lord Shanidev at the Shingnapur temple is swayambhu and the temple is believed to be a jagrut devasthan, meaning that a deity still resides in the temple. The idol is personified in the form of a black stone which is five and a half feet high installed on an open air platform. There is a trishul alongside the stone as well as a Nandi on its south. In front are the small images of Shiva and Hanuman. An east facing multi deity temple was built west of the Shani idol later. The premises also contain a tomb of Saint Udasi Baba and a temple dedicated to Dattatreya.
The entire village around the Shani Shingnapur Temple has no doors to the houses. The villagers believe that god Shani punishes anyone attempting theft. According to the legend, about 150 years ago, a huge black slab came floating on the water, which was noticed by the local shepherds after the water drained away. When one of them touched it with a pointed rod, blood started oozing from it. That night, Shaneshwara appeared in the dream of the devoted shepherds and stated that he wished to stay in the village in the same form without a roof above him. In return, he promised that there would never be any fear of theft in the village.
No theft or robbery was reported until 2010 when first theft was reported and again another one was reported in 2011. Some who have tried to steal have died vomiting blood within minutes of their act and before they could cross the boundary. Many others are said to have received varied punishments such as long sickness, mental imbalance etc.
The Shani temple is visited by thousands of devotees each day, which Saturday is the busiest day. Shani Trayodasi is considered to be a favorite day for the lord. Similarly Saturday falling on Amavasya is considered to be a favorite day for Lord Shanaishwara and devotees in large numbers throng to temple. Devotees are allowed to enter the temple premises after taking a bath. Prayers are offered by the devotees in traditional dhotis at the Shani Shingnapur Temple.
Timings: 24 Hours on all days.