India is the land of gods. The Sun, everything under the sun and beyond are worshiped here. But when I first read about Jodhpur’s Bullet Baba temple in Lonely Planet’s India guide, I just couldn’t believe it.
Bullet Baba temple had all the characteristics of a typical Hindu temple – the only peculiar thing was the idol which was a bike
This temple was built in 1989 and is very young compared to numerous other places of worship found in India. While covering the distance of 50km on NH 65 from Jodhpur to Chottila village where this temple is located, my cab driver was kind enough to explain the story of Bullet Baba, affectionately called Om Banna.
Om Banna’s real name was Om Singh Rathore. He was neither born with supernatural powers nor was he an incarnation. He was just like any other Indian youth who loved his bike – a 350cc Royal Enfield. Like any other day, on 2nd December 1988 too he started his journey on his bike to explore places. Sadly, he was not aware that later that day he would depart to a world without bikes. In the evening while returning to his home, he met with an accident – he somehow lost control of his bike and fell on the ground with his head hitting against a tree. Unfortunately, he died due to the fatal head injury.
The police arrived on the scene and completed the formalities of registering a case; they also took the bike to the police station. That night the bike vanished from the station and was found at the accident spot the next day. This “phenomenon” continued for some days even after bike was chained and tyres deflated. The policemen felt the bike was possessed and decided to return it back to Om Banna’s family. The bike wouldn’t keep quite in Om Banna’s house too; Om Banna’s grandfather saw it starting on its own. He shouted at the “possessed bike” hysterically. The spirit of Om Banna appeared before his grandfather and expressed his desire to be at the spot of accident. His family decided to build a temple for him at the accident spot according to his wishes and the bike was made the deity.
Those passing through NH 65 halt at this temple to pay homage to Om Banna before continuing their journey. They believe the roads will be safer due to Baba’s blessings. Before bidding goodbye to this unique temple, I bought a saffron thread and tied it along the tree and got another one tied to my wrist as part of the custom, hoping all our journeys will be safer.