Legends are only as real as you believe them to be.Me.
Back in 2009, a peculiar sight brought my car to a halt on the side of National Highway 62. A bike, A Royal Enfield Bullet 350, stood on a makeshift pedestal with a havan kund near it. This little stopover was my first experience of the shrine of Om Banna, also affectionately known as Bullet Baba.
My most recent visit was in 2019 when I realised that over ten years, the makeshift shrine had transformed into a full-fledged pilgrimage with a proper temple, dedicated aartis and pujas. What amused me, even more, was that buses from Gujarat and Even Punjab had “Jai Shree Om Banna” written over them. The place has assumed a cult status and is pretty much a sensation presently.
Time for a little story. The date is 2nd December 1991. Om Singh Rathore is returning from his in-laws’ house and meets with a fatal accident near his village of Chotila. The local police confiscated Om’s vehicle, a Bullet, and took it to their station. And this is where the legend starts. The following day, the bike was missing from the police station. After a bit of tracing, they found the bike at the accident spot. It was deemed as mischief at first. This time the bike was chained, and the fuel tank was emptied. The result – The vehicle was found again at the accident spot on the following day. The story of the ghostly bike soon started to spread to the adjoining areas.
The collision spot soon was labelled as cursed due to a vast amount of mishaps that followed after Om Banna’s death. Sometime later, Om’s father had a vision of his son’s wish of planting the bike at the accident scene. Shortly, the motorcycle was seated on a makeshift pedestal, and the offering of prayers began.
With the progression of time, the faith of the place developed and the minimal construction transformed into a full-fledged temple. Now, it has its priest, prasad shops, guest houses and even annual fairs. The bike is now in a glass case with a statue and photographs of Om Singh nearby. The offerings made here involve beer, bangles and coloured cloth, besides the usual flower garlands. The roughly 20 to 25 shops nearby all provide you with needed stuff and also souvenirs like photos and booklets.
The locals believe that offering prayers here to ensure safe and fast travel. They say that the spirit of Om Banna protects and watches over all those who pray at the shrine. It is a somewhat familiar sight watching entire biker gangs stop to pay their respect and prayers to the legendary bike. People also vow to make Om Banna the destination of their first visit with new vehicles to ensure their safekeeping.
Bullet Baba is one of those Urban Legends that may not be true but will grab your attention and attract you. The aura surrounding this place has no match, and the tale is just so unique. The location is a must-visit for those commuting to and around Jodhpur and Pali.
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