Tag Archives: Travelling In India

Highway Tales : That time we visited the bike temple.
Highway Tales : That time we visited the bike temple.

 

The bike temple near Jodhpur The bike temple near Jodhpur

”We will be visiting the bike temple on the way.” Said our driver.

“What temple?” I responded, shocked. I thought I had heard temple. My faith in my ability to pay attention, even when I was sleepy was restored. It had been a long and comfortable drive since our last halt at the temple in Ranakpur, I could be forgiven for falling asleep. However since the minute I’d heard of the ‘Bike Temple’ I wanted to know more.

India in general is a very religious country; you will find a lot of pretty temples, mosques and churches. Some of the most beautiful sites in the country are somehow connected to religion. Majority of India’s population is Hindu, and Hindus believe in a lot of gods (every deity being a form of the original holy triumvirate that Hinduism is based upon).

I knew of the Tirupathi Temple in Andhra Pradesh, where people (men) shave their heads (hair is considered as a sign of pride, shaving your head off would mean giving up on pride for God). I have also heard of the rat temple(Jaipur and Bikaner), the monkey temple (Jaipur and Hampi, I visited the one in Jaipur more on that later though), I would never have imagined that I would be visiting a temple devoted to a bike; a Royal Enfield to be precise.

I have always been intrigued by highways; the bike temple had promised to be what I had hoped for at the start of the journey but forgotten about in the process of travelling. I was going to visit a temple, which was in its own way a highway legend; a story that I would go back and share with my friends. The mention of the bike temple had done just that.

I learnt that the official name of the bike temple was Om Banna(the name of the bike owner). It is also known as Bullet Banna or Bike Banna (Banna is generally a term used to address a person of the male gender in Rajasthan). Our driver confirmed the story that the bike was owned by an Om Singh Rathore; A bullet enthusiast, he was travelling from Bangdi; a small town near Sanderao in the Pali district to Chotil, when he met with an accident and rammed his bike into a tree. The impact killed him instantly and the bike fell into a ditch closeby.

The police took the motorbike to the police station the next day only to find out a few hours later that the bike had disappeared and somehow magically appeared at the spot of the accident. The police are reported to have tried various things to keep the bike from disappearing; like emptying the fuel from the petrol tank, locking the bike in chains, but only to find the bike again magically reappear at the accident spot.

The locals started to consider this a miracle advised the police to leave the bike in the accident spot. They built a temple around the bike which is now popularly known as the “Bullet Baba’s temple”.

Almost all drivers who know of this story, make a stop at the shrine to pay their respect to the helpful spirit, it is believed that a driver who does not visit the temple is in for a dangerous journey.

Like all other temples in the country, a lot of people offer incense sticks, flowers, coconut and a red thread when they visit. There is one more thing I noticed the people offer here. Alcohol! Alcohol is considered a taboo in Hinduism, and India in general does not have a drinking culture. Even though there is no restriction on drinking, Alcohol and Religion don’t go hand in hand. It was odd to see people offer alcohol at the shrine.

This was one place I had not seen coming, I wasn’t even sure a place like this would even exist. But what an experience it was! For the rest of my journey to Jodhpur, I couldn’t stop thinking about the bike temple, and the Bike God that had watched over me the time I was on the highway.


My first nights in India: Staying at the Travellers Inn
My first nights in India: Staying at the Travellers Inn

 

The Journey Begins..

I made it to India!  A lifelong dream finally realized, thanks to India Someday and the amazing contest called #YouWanderWePay, which basically has my name on it! A social worker from New York City with a deep passion for all things local and an insatiable zest for experiencing life around our globe, I devoured my delicious Indian food aboard my Jet Airways flight and eagerly awaited the adventure of a lifetime.

ramblinarium, flying to india, #YouWanderWePay Ramblinarium, flying to india, #YouWanderWePay

After a smooth landing, I donned my well-traveled backpack, and exited the air-conditioned terminal to experience my first dose of the hot, astoundingly humid air, immediately feeling my curls become frizz.  I connected with Harsh, one of the India Someday founders and his exceptionally warm and friendly wife Arpita. They pampered me with good water, my first late-night veggie roti, and a fun drive orienting me to the layout and design of Bombay.  Driving alongside the sea, scores of people lined the walls overlooking the water.  Streets were mostly empty but the size, sounds and shapes of the various vehicles (and animals on the street) quickly reminded me that I had almost magically entered this mind-stirring land.

First thoughts on Mumbai and Travellers Inn

Harsh dropped me off at my first accommodation, the Travellers Inn, a clean, basic, well-located hotel in the Fort neighborhood. Not yet having any perspective on accommodations in India, I was pleased with the smooth late-night check-in and the helpful staff. My air-conditioned room had a full-size bed, en-suite bathroom (with showerhead basically right above the toilet) and cable television, which provided the perfect background (who doesn’t love an Indian cooking show!) while I settled in and used their strong Wi-Fi network to connect with family and friends back home, both to confim my safe arrival and to share excitement for some epic travel.

My bed was adequately comfy (though anything horizontal probably would have done the trick at this point.) I enjoyed a solid night of sleep and loved the tasty breakfast of eggs, fruit, deliciously buttered toast and Indian tea, delivered to my room in the morning  (included in the room price).  Getting ready to venture out into the streets of Bombay (seems to be the name used by many folks here) I had hoped to run into some fellow backpackers. Aside from a couple of computers and a book-swap shelf, there didn’t seem to be much common area for socializing. The very sweet owner however, brought me to the roof to show me the great work in progress for a new community space and even sought my ideas for what would make it best.

 

ramblinarium, breakfast at travelers inn, mumbai Ramblinarium, breakfast at travelers inn, mumbai

Not having seen other accommodations in Mumbai/Bombay to compare it to, but knowing how important a safe, well-located, clean establishment is, I would definitely recommend Travellers Inn to my fellow budget travellers. Ambience might not yet be its strong point (does seem like it’s on its way,) but helpful staff, cable TV, strong AC and good Wi-Fi (that never failed) surely enhanced my first experiences of India.

Huge thanks to the India Someday team, to the “clean” food vendors whose flavors I loved (and I haven’t yet gotten sick from), to the cows and goats on the streets, to the beautiful people and amazing banyan trees, to Harsh’s family for their wonderful Indian hospitality and to the fun characters like my friend Aditi’s friend Joseph. What a fabulous welcome to India you have offered.  Next up…train to Ahmedabad. Can’t wait for more! #YouWanderWePay

ramblinarium, banyan tree, mumbai ramblinarium, banyan tree, mumbai

ramblinarium, joseph in mumbai ramblinarium, joseph in mumbai

ramblinarium, vada pav, street food, mumbai ramblinarium, vada pav, street food, mumbai

ramblinarium, sweet lime juice in mumbai ramblinarium, sweet lime juice in mumbai

ramblinarium, thali lunch in mumbai ramblinarium, thali lunch in mumbai

ramblinarium, indian hospitality ramblinarium, indian hospitality

ramblinarium, train station, mumbai ramblinarium, train station, mumbai