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Travel Secret #1043: Bull in a Chikan Shop, Lucknow

“Twenty-five years ago, a bull walked into the Lucknow Chikan Shop, a cloth store tucked away in the dusty folds of Varanasi. It stayed on for half a day. Paramanand Chhugani, the shop owner, rubbed his eyes and scratched his head.

The next day, the bull returned and stayed put till the lights went out at 9 pm. Chhugani’s surprise took on the form of devotion. A devotee of Lord Shiva, the supreme deity of Varanasi, Chhugani decided that the bull’s visit was a sign from the Lord. By the third day, the bull had a name—Nandi Baba.

The bull arrives at the shop at 9.30 am, except in the summer, when it waddles in half an hour later. The shutters are opened only after the bull reaches the shop. It walks in first and everyone else follows. Then, it walks up to the idol of Lord Shiva, licks it and sits down at its feet. Chhugani ensures that it gets a sumptuous lunch. Fearing that the bull will be inconvenienced if the shop is closed, Chhugani keeps it open every day of the year. Shoppers in Varanasi are used to Nandi Baba’s presence.

In fact, the shop has become a tourist attraction. People in Varanasi have anointed Nandi’s visits to the shop as a miracle. Sometimes, they flock there only to worship it. The Chhuganis do not turn back anyone who is keen to worship their Nandi Baba.”

– Sanchita Guha Dhali, Delhi based journalist

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