Uttrakhand, the land of the gods, is where I was born. Even though I was born and raised in Uttar Pradesh, I have been a frequent visitor there for many years now.
Anyhow, this particular story has a long and illustrious history in my homeland. It’s been around for about ten years, and since I was a young awkward teenager when I first heard it, it still scares me. It was a time when tourism in Lansdowne was not as popular as it is today.
Lansdowne is surrounded by typical mountainous terrain, with lots of trees and dense forests. In the summer, markets would close at 8 p.m., and no one would be seen on the streets. In the past, a family friend of ours in the area worked as a guide and resort broker. Back then, there weren’t many rooms available, so resort owners preferred to book guests through a third party, like a travel broker. An entirely new type of criminal trend was responsible for the rise in violent crime.
It was common for people to gather in groups, such as when they went out to a party with so-called friends, and then kill someone over their personal issues. It was much easier to dispose of the bodies in the mountains because they were virtually impossible to find in the dense forest. Instead of being called “murdered”, these people were referred to as “missing”.
This guide was approached by a group of five students who were filming a low-budget documentary over Ashwatthama on a typical summer day. One parrot named Monty accompanied a group of three men and two women.
Lord Krishna cursed Ashwatthama to wander in total isolation from mankind and society, as per The Mahabharata. On his forehead, he was asked to surrender his Mani (a gem that was the source of his mystical powers) Blood and pus leak from the wound, which is said to be infected. Locals describe him as tall with a hollow forehead.
They had driven from Delhi in their rented Scorpio to Jairikhal Forest in the hopes that he could assist them in their endeavors. There were promises of good money and a great Monty impersonation show. He nodded his head in agreement. He regrets this decision to this day.
It was the safest and tiniest of all of the trees, but these guys weren’t playing around. As a result of their research, they had a good idea of what was in the area. They were well-prepared for the majority of situations. Then, after an hour, they realized that he wasn’t showing them the “real deal” and demanded to see the actual sites that were being shown.
Locals have reported a few strange incidents over the years. Ashwatthama became a sort of cult for some people. They lived exclusively in the woods and occasionally caused strange problems. However, the locals never perceived them as a threat and instead saw them as a group of people trying to get some attention from the public.
When he entered the dense part of the forest, he told me, they heard a strange song. They knew it was coming from a long way away, but they couldn’t pinpoint its exact location. The grass was uneven, with dry leaves covering white stones on the ground. Their own heartbeats were audible in the forest. Literally! There are no birds, no toads, and absolutely nothing! Despite its quietness, the atmosphere was anything but tranquil. Because the trees were so dense, it already felt like 3 p.m.
He kept his distance and tried to memorize the paths as they continued for two more hours and took some shots that had nothing to do with the guide. When he noticed something, he was surprised. Those white stones, however, were not actually stones at all. Most of the skulls were crushed into small granular pieces, like small stones. He told me, and I quote, “I’ve never felt so frightened in my life! It sent chills down my spine.” It was a secret he kept from anyone, and they didn’t even notice it on their own.
Day 2 of the challenge
Because he wasn’t feeling well, he decided to stay home. He spoke to locals about the cult’s followers. Because Ashwatthama is so tall, his followers believe he cannot stand up and be among mortals. A trail of blood is left behind as he crawls through the woods with blood streaming from his forehead. By doing so, his disciples are aware that he is present with them, and they celebrate by offering sacrifices of animals to him. Considering that goats are easier to obtain, they were not as fortunate.
In the evening, the students rushed up to him, full of anticipation. Apparently, they had discovered a small temple in the woods, which had been abandoned. Just a little bigger than a kitchen. Just a single, extremely red stone was all that was visible. Still to this day, Mr. Guide tells me that he has never seen a stone more reddish in color. Despite being small, it was absurdly heavy for its size and bright red color. He asked them with a heavy heart if they had touched it or not.
But they didn’t do so. There was nothing they could have done to make the situation any worse for themselves They took it along with them on their journey. That’s all there is to it. “I can’t help you anymore,” he said. “I’ll see you in my hometown, where I’ll see my mother.” Though surprised, they all kept their word and gave him his share of the money. His final words were “good luck” and he was gone. Afterward, they shot for two more days before packing up and heading home. Or at least, that’s what he thought.
A body was found in the forest after four days, and the local police asked him a few questions. I prayed to God that it wasn’t about them as soon as he got the call. But it was in the same forest, so it couldn’t be a coincidence. When he arrived, he found that there was nothing unusual about the situation. In the landscape, there were no more heads or skulls, and the forest was no longer dense.
As soon as he laid eyes on the body, he was frightened. He said, and I quote, “The body was infused into the tree upside down. It was like it was half in and half out of the tree at the same time. It was as if it “grew from within the tree”, and burst forth. Given its condition, the police told me it was at least six months old However, it had not decomposed to that extent either, despite its appearance. A contradiction existed between the body’s condition and the environment in which it was found.” A few questions of a more routine nature were asked by the group. They said no other bodies had been found.
They went through their rooms and looked for anything that might help them. However, they did not find any evidence of anyone breaking in or a body to be used as a source of the blood they had found. Not that the police were aware of any stones, but their camera had vanished. Props, storyboards, and scripts they had written were nowhere to be seen. Everything went smoothly, poof!
Monty was all that was left. We were alone, afraid, and starving when we arrived. He has sung that strange hymn over and over again.
(Fun part was, Monty had never been to those woods with them before. After that incident, Mr. Guide left Lansdowne for 5 years. As a result of this, he still has nightmares about it. Since the cult was never mentioned in any official reports, it was never considered a suspect.)
Four of her friends were officially reported missing after they failed to return home after a few days. They never made it back home.
Originally published at https://vocal.media.