BENGALURU: When a 41-strong team of Sabarimala devotees alighted from the Ernakulam Express at Banaswadi station in Karnataka in the early hours on Tuesday after completing their pilgrimage, an unusual companion jumped on to the platform along with them.
It was ‘Bhairava’, a stray dog that took a fancy to the group and walked nearly 500 km to Sabarimala with them. As a special case, the station manager at Ernakulam and the TTE on board the train had provided the group permission to permit the nearly three-year-old dog on board with them, enabling it to reach Bengaluru with them.
It was on December 17, 2017 that a 16-member team from Halasuru commenced their Padayatra. “We went via Koramangala and Electronics City and touched Hosur. The dog tagged on to one of our friends, C Madhan Kumar, there. The two became inseparable,” said V Raj Kumar, a pilgrim.
The group christened him ‘Bhairava’. “Tragedy struck us on December 29 when we were near Sembatti in Dindigal district and a speeding car rammed into Madhan Kumar. He suffered critical injuries,” Kumar said.
One group stayed back at Sembatti and another rushed him to government hospitals in Dindigal and then Madurai. “Madhan succumbed to his injuries,” said Rajkumar. Meanwhile, Bhairava, who stayed back with the group at Sembatti, left them and latched on to another batch of pilgrims heading to Sabarimala.
V Arun, who was with Madhan’s group, said, “After overcoming our grief, we proceeded on our trip. When we reached Sabarimala, we were stunned to see Bhairava there.
It came over to us. He had literally walked 490 km and completed the Darshan of Lord Ayyappa before we could do it. The group it had joined had obtained permission for him to view the Lord in the sanctum sanctorum through a special entry,” he said. “The dog had only water and milk when it was with us and it continued the same, the other group told us,” he claimed.
After the Darshan, the Bengaluru group was wondering what to do with the dog. “A priest suggested that we must leave it behind there. We agreed.”
Meanwhile, the group reached Pampa to take a bus to Ernakulam and board a train back. “It was such a surprise to see a determined Bhairava standing there before we reached,” Rajkumar said. It was then that the pilgrims unanimously took a decision to take the dog with them.
Now the dog is sitting pretty in the house of G Murugan, employed as a vendor in a courier company. “Since I live in an independent house and all those who really liked him are nearby, I decided to adopt him. I took him to the Government Veterinary Hospital today and let him have drips and other medicines as he looked very weak,” Murugan said.