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Country  India
State  Maharashtra

Language spoken  Marathi
District  Sangli

Shirala also called Battis [32] Shirala is a small town in India, 60 kilometers west of the district headquarters, Sangli and about 350 kilometers from Mumbai, capital of Maharashtra state. It is particularly known for its Hindu festival of the snake god.


Map of Shirala

32 shirala nagapanchami vishal kshirasagar

32 shirala nagpanchami vishal kshirsagar


Shirala in the past, History of Shirala

Shirala is a small town located in western Maharashtra, Indias most prosperous state. During the Rashtrakuta period the region was ruled by Shilaharas. (from 765 to 1020)

Local Economy

Noted annual festival

Shirala Festival of Shirala

Battis Shirala is famous for its annual Nag Panchami Snake festival, which is attended by hundreds of thousands people.

Shirala Festival of Shirala

On Bendur, a day approximately two weeks before the festival, farmers clean their cows and bulls, decorate them and feed them with special food; villagers go snake-hunting, after getting kaul (permission) from Goddess Amba Bai by placing a flower on her head. If the flower falls, voluntarily on left side then that family is not allowed to catch snake that year. It is believed that only natives of Shirala are allowed to catch the snakes. Snakes (including the venomous Indian King Cobra) are tracked by their body marks in the soil. The ground is dug up carefully and the snakes are captured in such manner that they should not get hearted. A lot of care is taken so that snakes are not hurt as if they are hurt it is considered as a bad thing for that family. Hundreds of hours of searching produces seven or eight snakes per group if they are lucky. These snakes are then stored in a big circular earthen pot with a smaller circular earthen pot placed on the top opening. Finally a cloth is used to cover the top and is tied with a rope. These pots are usually hung outside house. Every morning till the actual festival, these snakes are taken out of their earthen pots and fed with a rat or frog. This feeding is called Dav Pajane or feeding dew to a snake.

On the day of festival, the snakes are displayed in a huge procession. The procession begins with the blessings of the village goddess Amba-bai. 70 to 80 groups and originations take part in this procession. Before this procession, in the morning, snakes are taken to few neighboring homes so that women in those homes can worship these snakes. Recently court has banned catching of snakes due to animal (snake) abuse cases as rough handling of snakes can result in their death.

The snakes that were caught before the festival, are released at the same place from which they were caught.

Myth is one of the families in Shirala use to worship snake murti. When one of the Navnatha (Gorakhnath) visited their place, he gave them permission and blessing to catch actual snake and worship it. Shirala also has Gorkhnath Temple. Once in 12 years all the followers of Nath panti (Nath Sampradaya) visit Shirala and leave one of them behind to take care of this temple for the next 12 years.

Shirala is also famous for one of the eleven Maruti temples built by Marathi saint Samarth Ramdas. This 17th-century temple is located about 200 feet away from main bus station of the town and is visited by many devotees on Saturdays. The town also has a fort build by great Maratha warrior, Shivaji. Currently, it is maintained by forest services office of town.


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