The famed pilgrimage centre of Shirdi in Ahmednagar is undergoing a major facelift as it prepares for the upcoming centenary year of the saint, Saibaba, to be celebrated for a year from October 17, top officials said here on Thursday.
The Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust will combine science and spirituality with a series of key initiatives taken for the benefit of several lakhs of pilgrims expected from all over the world for the centennial, SSST Chairman Suresh Haware and CEO Rubal Agrawal told mediapersons here.
Among these would a unique project to harness the 'foot energy' of over 50,000 pilgrims who visit the Saibaba Samadhi Temple daily, to convert it into power.
"This walking energy would be converted into power for which we have tied up with an innovator company on a build-operate-transfer basis. There will be energy pedals which would get pressed and come back to its position. This will generate power and in the first pilot phase we shall install 200 such pedals. The power will be supplied to the public areas within the temple premises," Haware said.
Another Rs 100 crore project will be a huge idol of Shri Saibaba and using modern technology, various incidents of the saint's life will be brought alive through audio, video, light, sound and special effects, he added.
The project would include a Sai Planetarium, a wax museum with statues of great Indian religious leaders and 50 great Indian national figures, a sky-gazing gallery with 25 modern telescopes and a Science Park.
On the cards is a 'Virtual Reality' show where visitors could personally experience a 'darshan' of Shri Saibaba, view some of the great episodes from the Shri Sai Saccharit live through a 25-minute holographic show.
The small town in northern Maharashtra will go hi-tech from August with free WiFI services to be introduced, planting over 100,000 trees on the Shirdi-Nashik and Shirdi-Manmad roads, the two main thoroughfare to approach the pilgrimage centre, an art gallery and a library.
The SSST plans to put up large pictures and paintings of Shri Saibaba, different facets of his personality, major incidents of his life, paint house walls and compounds, rail and bus stations and other important landmarks.
Agrawal said during the year, the SSST plans public works of nearly Rs 3,000 crore, of which it would donate half from its own resources and the rest would come from central and state governments.
According to current estimates, around five crore people from all over the world are expected to visit Shirdi during the centennial for which the SSST is preparing with massive infrastructure and other requirements.
Taking a cue from the 'hair donations' at Tirupati Temple, the SSST plans to launch a daily 'blood donation' campaign in which at least 500 people will donate blood which will be sent to the needy across Maharashtra.