Situated in Chennai’s Mylapore neighborhood, this temple was constructed in 1952 by a devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba, a 19th-century saint who preached compassion, love, and religious tolerance. It's but one of many temples to the saint across India and the oldest Sai Baba temple in Chennai.
Beloved by Hindus and Muslims alike, Sai Baba of Shirdi preached religious tolerance and encouraged compassion and fraternity across castes and communities. He's best known for the saying "Sab Ka Malik Ek," which translates roughly to "everyone's lord is one," emphasizing the idea that no matter how you pray, you're praying to the same divinity.
The Shirdi Sai Baba Temple interiors are modern and simple compared to the more ornate temples for which the south of India is known, with white marble and a large statue of Sai Baba in the center. Supplicants leave offerings and drape the saint’s statue with flower garlands.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Don’t forget to remove your shoes before entering the temple.
- Out of respect for local tradition, wear clothing that covers your knees and shoulders.
- The temple can get crowded, particularly on Thursdays, which are traditionally associated with the saint.
How to Get There
The temple is located in Mylapore, less than 10 minutes on foot from the Mundakakanniamman Koil commuter railway station. It's within easy walking distance of many of the neighborhood's religious and cultural attractions, and both the Kapaleeshwarar Temple and the Ramakrishna Math are within a 20-minute walk. Chennai Central Railway Station is about half an hour’s drive north of the temple, while getting to Marina Beach takes around 10 minutes.
When to Get There
It's best to visit either early in the morning or later in the afternoon, as the temple closes for a few hours in the middle of the day for lunch. It's at its busiest on Thursdays, which is associated with Sai Baba, and Sundays, when a special fire ceremony is performed.
A Tale of Two Sai Babas
When you hear people referring to Sai Baba in India, they’re often talking about Shirdi Sai Baba, the 19th-century saint. However, the name can also refer to a popular 20th-century spiritual teacher and philanthropist, Sathya Sai Baba, who claimed to be a reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi.