Some say that God is a formless, omnipresent entity that resides in every corner of this universe. Taking this belief to heart, the people of Ropar district Rajasthan offer their prayers and tributes to a 350cc Bullet motorcycle. Yes, you heard it right!
Numerous believers from near and far throng to NH 50, some 50km-odd from Jodhpur to pray for a safe journey because “Bullet Baba” is believed to be the guarding angel of travellers who ensures their safe journeys.But what would you offer a mechanical deity as a prayer offering? Petrol, maybe…but ironically enough, people sprinkle bullet Baba with alcohol, which also is one of the foremost reasons for road accidents.
Morning and evening rituals at this strange temple includes beating of a traditional set of drums, the main priests chants and a long line for the darshan. In fact, most travellers on the Pali-Jodhpur highway would experience a steady jam around the Om Banna temple at any time of the day.
The legend behind “Bullet Baba” dates back to the year 1998, when the son of a local village leader Om Singh Rathore met with a fatal accident. He died on the spot, while his motorcycle fell into a ditch. The local police had the motorcycle removed to the police station but the next day, it was reported to have magically vanished from the station and reappeared at the site of of the accident.
The police once again took the motorcycle back to the station, emptied its fuel tank and chained it, but the next day the motorcycle again ‘teleported’ to the site of the accident. And, thus, a new faith was born. Akin to the movie, ‘Tarzan – The Wonder Car’, Om Banna’s spirit is believed to reside in the motorcycle.
According to several accounts, Om Banna still rides across the road, sometimes even helping those in need. One such story is of a driver whose vehicle skidded and fell into a ditch not far from the Om Banna temple. Reportedly, the driver was injured and bleeding, when he swore than Om Banna came and helped him out. Stories such as these increased the popularity of the temple.
The temple features a bust of Om Banna, with the motorcycle encased in glass behind it, which is decked with garlands and tilak lending an almost ethereal quality to what most bike enthusiasts consider a feat in mechanical and motorcycle engineering (possibly enough to inspire reverence even in the sceptical?!).
The place – besides being a religious site – is also a major tourist attraction, ranked 17 on the list of major landmarks on TripAdvisor.
And for the true Royal Enfield enthusiasts, a visit to “Bullet Baba” is considered no less than a pilgrimage.