If you ever find yourself traveling through India, consider a detour through Pali, an industrial city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. About 15 miles out of town along National Highway 65, you’ll come across a curious shrine built around a Royal Enfield Bullet 350.
The shrine was erected at the site of an accident that took place on Dec. 2, 1988. Om Singh Rathore, the son of the leader of a local village, was riding his beloved Bullet home from Pali when he slid and ran into a tree, instantly killing him.
As legend has it, local police recovered the 24-year-old’s body and brought the Royal Enfield to a nearby police station for investigation. The next morning, the Bullet had reportedly disappeared from the police station and later found back at the scene of the accident.
As the story goes, police seized the motorcycle and returned it to the station only to have it disappear and return once again. The legend has it police made numerous attempts to keep the motorcycle in the station, going so far as to empty the fuel tank and chain it in place, but the Bullet inevitably returned to where its owner lost his life. Police finally gave up and returned the motorcycle to Rathore’s family.
Following these mysterious events, locals erected a shrine at the accident shrine, for the motorcycle and its dead owner, also known by the nicknames Om Banna or Bullet Baba. The Bullet stands on a concrete platform, draped in garlands and bits of red string. Even the tree Bullet Baba crashed into is decorated with colorful bangles and scarves.
Hundreds of villagers as well as travelers often stop at the shrine to add more offerings to decorate the shrine and pray for a safe journey, There’s even a full time priest who takes care of the shrine.
Are there mystical forces are at work here? Or is this just an elaborately planned tourist attraction? There are some discrepancies. Some tellings have the accident taking place in 1991 instead of 1988. Some say the mysterious return to the site of the accident took place over several days while others say it was over several months. Whether you believe it or not, it’s a neat story.