Tag Archives: Travelling in Rajasthan.

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.


Experience of Having a Car and Driver in Northern India
Experience of Having a Car and Driver in Northern India

Let’s start by saying that not all cars, drivers and roads are equal!

India Someday has offered me a broad spectrum of travel for getting from city to city in Rajasthan. For a few of my journeys, I’ve had the opportunity to sprawl out in the backseat of a car, taking in the street scenes around me. I’ve had mixed feelings about these car experiences but hands down, my recommendation is mix it up – try getting around every which way you can in this country!

At first, the idea of having a car to myself felt amazing. From reliable AC to bathroom breaks on my own schedule, I was stoked to sample another flavor of luxury travel I’m not quite used to as a backpacker. As with other aspects of higher-end style, I savored in the indulgence and enjoyed feeling pampered – but also started feeling as if I was gazing out at Indian life from a bubble. I would stare out the car window and see the beautiful wind-blown hair and saris of the glowing women sitting sideways on the back of motorbikes and would dream of traveling with the wind in my hair instead. I of course thought about pushbikes as well – and how amazing it would be to properly gear up and cycle these long stretches.  

At Chandleao outside of Jodhpur, where I was excited to hop on some wheels and cycle around the villages one evening, I sweat bullets and found myself working much harder than usual on pretty flat land. Needless to say, I chuckled at the thought of riding in the beating sun and toting my gear – and once again felt quite grateful for the private car!

For the car journeys between cities, I find myself going back and forth between enjoying the solitude and break from the noise – and longing to be fully immersed in it. It can feel a bit lonely or isolating, far removed from the commotion of the public transportation scenes and even other tourists who can be fun to speak with and learn from. Understanding the distances and limited public transportation between some cities, I can surely say that the car/driver combo makes a lot of sense.

Within cities, especially Jaipur, where things felt spread out, it was quite ideal to have a driver and I truly appreciated the demeanor of the sweet man who shared lots of information, was incredibly accommodating and struck up some decent conversation.

I must say that the car/driver experience is very much shaped by the driver himself (so far, I’ve only had men). My first one wasn’t my favorite (he was definitely not bad) it was just that I didn’t connect with him. But I absolutely trusted him and felt safe, however he was not someone I would rate as the best driver on my journey. When I think of it now, all of my other drivers have been incredibly friendly, quite knowledgeable and good in English, which makes a lot of difference

The roads themselves likely make a difference too! While trains are steady and smooth, I found some of the car rides to be incredibly bumpy and somewhat nausea-inducing. Some drivers handled the terrain far better than others – or perhaps their vehicles were better equipped.

The scenes out the windows however, never ceased to excite me. Whether we were passing lush green mountains, small villages or entering bustling cities, I loved watching life outside the car.

The roads were full of people walking, many carrying flags, all heading on a pilgrimage to a temple near Jaisalmer. Some barefoot and some piled high in rickshaws, they all looked thrilled with their journey, unbothered by the extreme heat. I loved seeing them.

If I knew about a site along the way, my drivers were always happy to stop for me. We enjoyed a quick break at a temple devoted to motorbikes which was a fun scene.

One of the best parts, after a late night, very early morning or full day in the heat, is that the backseat of a car makes for an ideal bed, with no need to secure bags or worry about anything else. I should also add that all of my drivers have been incredibly punctual, never leaving me to wait anywhere. They also seem quite experienced at managing the INSANE traffic situation – cows, trucks, buses, cars, bikes, people, goats, camels and more – all moving in every direction possible.

Bottom line, getting around by car/driver can be incredibly helpful, time-saving and pleasantly chilled (this country is HOT!)  As with any other situation, having realistic expectations and putting forth positive energy will help make a smooth ride.

Looking forward to more scenes from the road!