The “Bullet” brand of the motorcycle of Royal Enfield is a cult figure. It has an ever-growing fan community all over the world. The diehard Bullet fans would say, “There are only two motorcycles in the world - The Bullet and the non-Bullet.”
The brand name Bullet remains for 88 years since the first Bullet motorcycle was released in 1931. Bullet is the longest standing brand name in the motorcycle history of the world.
This coveted brand came to India in 1955 when the government placed orders for 800 motorcycles for army and police duties in the country. The British company Royal Enfield created a partnership with Madras Motor Company of Madras (now Chennai) and assembled the motorcycles in India.
From 1962 onwards all components were made in India by redesigning it to suit the metric system of measurement. (India adopted the metric system in stages between 1958 to 1962). Subsequently, the British manufacturer closed shop and now Royal Enfield motorcycles are manufactured only in India and are exported to more than 50 countries including Britain and the U S A.
This note is not about the history of Enfield; but about an interesting event of one single Royal Enfield bike.
About 50 kilometers from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, on the Jodhpur-Pali highway, there is a small spot known as “Om Banna Sthan” or “Om Banna Mandir”. It has got a very interesting legend.
On 2 December 1991, Mr. Om Sigh Rathore, subsequently known as Om Banna was travelling from the town of Bangdi of Pali, to Chotila on the way to Jodhpur on his 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet bearing registration number RNJ 7773.
Drunk Rathore hit a tree. The bike fell into a nearby ditch and Rathore died instantly. The police took the vehicle and kept it at the police station. The bike disappeared at night and was found at the accident spot the next morning. The police thought it was a prank. They took it back to the station. They emptied the fuel tank, chained it and punctured the tyres. Amazingly, it was again found on the accident spot the next day! The story goes that the motorcycle kept returning to the same ditch every time the police tried to keep it at the police station.
The local people took it for a miracle and news spread to nearby villages. They named the spirit of Mr. Rathore as “Om Banna” and built a temple to worship it. They erected a concrete dais and placed the bike in a glass enclosure. This temple is known as "Bullet Baba's Temple." It is believed that Om Banna's spirit helps distressed travellers.
Every day hundreds of passersby stop to bow down to the spirit of Om Banna, the Motorcycle God. Locally they call it “Bullet Baba.” They believe that the spirit of Om Banna protects the travelers. People leave flowers and bottles of liquor the deity’s blessing. The temple even has its own priest who conducts the morning and evening rituals and maintains the site.
The tree that Om Sing Rathore hit still stands there. People festoon it with garlands, bangles, scarves, red threads, etc.