Golden Baba, who is famous for participating in Kanwar Yatra wearing gold ornaments, has added a gold chain weighing two kilograms to his collection. Baba aka Sudhir Makkar is well known throughout the 200km yatra route from Hardwar to Delhi.
The addition of the chain has taken Baba’s gold ornaments to about 14.5kgs which include a collection of 21 gold chains, 21 lockets of deities, armlets and even a gold jacket which he wears sometimes during the yatra sitting atop his SUV which is one among the cavalcade of 16 vehicles that accompany him.
“The new chain weighs two kgs and has a locket of Shiva. I am not wearing much gold on this journey as its weight has affected my nerves at the neck and also affected vision of one eye. This is my penultimate Kanwar Yatra and 2018 will be last ending with a silver jubilee,” Baba said.
Apart from his fetish for gold, Baba also wears a Rolex watch worth Rs 27 lakh and owns a BMW, three Fortuners, two Audi and two Innova vehicles which are part of his cavalcade. On several occasions, he has taken cars such as Hummer, Jaguar and Land Rover on rent for his trip to Haridwar.
“The love for gold and cars will not die. I remember it was in 1972-73 when gold price was Rs 200 per tola (10 grams). I started wearing gold items and had nearly four tolas that time. Gradually, the gold increased. I will keep the gold with me till I die. It will be handed over to my favourite disciple when I leave the world,” said the 55-year-old.
Before moving to spiritualism, Makkar ran a successful cloth and property business from the Gandhi Nagar market in Delhi. He now has a luxurious flat at a high-rise in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad.
The initial years of life were, however, difficult for him. He went to a gurukul at the age of six and went to Haridwar in search of livelihood. He sold rosary beads and cloth on pavements.
“Later, my business flourished with the grace of lord Shiva. I sold jeans, shirts and jackets with the brand name Bittu. Even the property business flourished as I got completely devoted to Shiva,” he said.
These days Baba travels along with a team of 18 bouncers and eight security officers who keep an eye on his gold while he is on the move. Popular also as Shri Mahant Ji Golden Puri Babaji, Makkar said that he still has a lot of property in Delhi. His disciples estimate that Baba, who has no children, owns property worth over Rs 150 crore.
Baba is a popular figure in the annual pilgrimage. Children, women and youngster wait eagerly for his cavalcade to arrive on erstwhile NH-58. They make his videos, click selfies with him and even touch his feet for blessings.
“It is out of affection that everyone loves me, more so as I wear gold. Throughout the route, people from all communities, including Muslims, shower love on me and cheer me up,” he said.
His participation, however, keeps the local police officers on toes.
“He often stops midway and we have to rush to make arrangements for his security. It is tough as he has a large number of cars and other vehicles in his cavalcade. Our arrangements are in place and we hope that his last yatra will also be successful and without hindrance,” said Atul Kumar, sub divisional magistrate, Modi Nagar.