All around the globe and even in India, there have accidental sightings of creatures that science does not know about. Some sightings are merely the result of the illusion of the human mind but sometimes the eye witness accounts are too clear and reliable. It cannot be just dismissed. Then the researchers put categorize these unknown creatures calling them a cryptid.
A cryptid is the creature that has not been scientifically documented but cannot be denied. The study of cryptids is a branch called cryptozoology, referring to the research of these less known or unknown creatures on the basis of sightings and reports. Cryptozoologists try to make the unknown known for the world.
Many parts of the earth are still unexplored, especially the water bodies and the underground. Probably we only know of 30% or less about the creatures of the oceans. In India from time to time there have been many sightings of such weird and unknown creatures. Here are some reports of cryptids from India-
India is home to the reticulated python which is the biggest snake in the world sharing the top place with the South American Anaconda. The proof of the biggest reticulated python is 33 feet and is believed that this length is also a rare event. Snakes cannot grow bigger than this. But these cryptid sightings say something else.
There have been multiple eyewitnesses who have seen snakes that are fifty or even seventy foot long. Some of these people are from the Naval Forces and quite experienced crew who have spotted these giant pythons in the Indian Ocean. An apparent explanation could be that these snakes grow as long as they can eat and live.
The people of Sunderbans have also had unusual encounters with giant pythons. Maybe these giant reptiles live in the dense mangroves and delta regions of the Sunderbans which are absolutely inaccessible for humans.
Cynocephali seems like a creature arisen from the myths. A cynocephali is a man with a dog’s head and hairy body. Some believe that it is similar to a werewolf.
What is strange is that the cynocephali has been spotted through the ages in Europe as well as in India and China. In India, many people strongly believe that in the regions of Kamakhya, such creatures exist. They shape shift, i.e. they can change their physical body shape.
Researchers believe either this is a total myth or a distorted view of some early breed of wild canine. That is why there is not much interest to seek out this cryptid in India.
The Speaking Tree
Anybody would dismiss this as a fairy tale of India except that it has been recorded in clear words by two great leaders and travelers – Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. This is one of the most weird cryptid of India.
These trees were called the Oracular Trees or the Trees of the Sun and Moon in India and probably may still exist today. These trees were an open secret where people would come and worship these and ask questions about their life. Unbelievably these trees answered in a somewhat human voice and probably in Sanskrit.
Alexander the Great has written about this tree in a letter to Aristotle. He described that there were two parts growing from one tree. Each grew into a complete tree and was called the Sun and Moon. In the daytime the response came from the Sun part and in the nighttime, the Moon part answered. They looked somewhat like cypress trees and also bore fruit. Alexander asked this tree a question and the Sun tree had answered it in a masculine voice in front of many locals and Alexander’s soldiers. Not only that, this answer was a prophecy that foretold Alexander’s death and it did come true.
Marco Polo gives a more descriptive account of this tree. He had explained that this tree is tall and thick with a bark that is green on one side and white on the other. The wood of this tree is yellow and extremely strong. There are no trees near it for miles. The locals consider it holy and worship it.
Related: Top 6 Strangest Flowers in the World
Giant Eel of the Ganges
How about 300 feet giant eels that prey on oxen and elephants? Sounds too fantastic to be true, even for a cryptid. But things get more incredible when several well known naturalists report it in their journals.
Well known European naturalists and explorers like Pliny, Philostratus, Solinus and Ctesias and others have mentioned about the giant blue eels of the Ganges River. These blue coloured giants lived in the muddy bottoms of Ganges and other rivers in India and occasionally would rise to pound on land animals. However zoologically, creatures of this size cannot survive well in the rivers and seems like an exaggeration.
Gaius Julius Solinus was a respected Latin scholar who was the author of the famous book De mirabilibus mundi (The wonders of the world). In the 3rd Century AD, he has mentioned in his book about these giant eels. Solinus has stated that these giant eels of the Ganges were 30 foot long and did hunt on larger fishes and creatures. The closest animal that fits its description is the Strophidon sathete which grows up to 13 foot long, but still far smaller than the 300 foot giant. It is also true that many freshwater creatures of Indian Rivers are yet to be scientifically studied. Perhaps further exploration will reveal more about this cryptid.
It cannot be explained how a 30 foot eel can become a story about a colossal 300 foot creature except for human imagination and fear. Even if today a 30 foot eel does exist it is a wonder of the Ganges and we should search out for this cryptid.
In the marshlands of the Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, the Buru roamed around. The Apatani people shifted to Ziro and settled in this valley because the land was very fertile and perfect for growing rice. But before the tribe of Apatanis settled here, this was the home of the Buru, a reptile like creature that was spotted quite commonly in the Ziro Valley.
Buru and human confrontations did not go well for the humans. Burus were as big as crocodiles and would often prey on the humans. To get rid of them, the Apatani people dried the marsh area. As the Burus preferred water so they receded as well. It is believed that they went lived deep in the humid caves and went back. Since then Burus almost disappeared except for a few rare sightings.
In 1947 Austrial researcher Professor Christopher von Furer-Haimendorf went in search of the Buru but it is believed that the reptile was already extinct by then. After that only once was his cryptid reported to be seen by a girl as she went to get water from a spring. The locals sealed the spring after that since then Buru is titled as the cryptid from the North east India.
Descriptions of the Buru match the Komodo Dragon although Burus were supposedly bigger in size. The cryptid like the Komodo had a forked tongue. It also had a long neck. Scientists believe that the Buru was an unknown descendant of the reptile kingdom that was endemic to that region of Ziro Valley. Due to the man beast conflict, either the Buru has gone extinct or has receded deep into underground cave systems.
Kallana the Dwarf Elephants
How can elephants be cryptids! Strange as it may sound, there are the cryptids of Kerala, the Kallana. Kallana is the name of the dwarf elephants that have been spotted but never found, giving it the status of a cryptid.
In the dense forests of the Western Ghats of India, there is a new species of the pygmy elephant waiting to be discovered. Although right now scholars call it a cryptid but the Kaani tribals of Kerala are well aware of it. They say that two types of elephants are found in their forest. One is the conspicuous Indian elephant we all know of. The other is a species of small dwarf elephants that roam around in the jungle. They call it Kallana. Kallu stands for stones and Anna means elephant, building Kallana. They call it so because the Kallana elephant usually can be seen in rocky terrain. Unlike the common elephant, it can climb on to hills and rocks well. They usually prefer higher altitudes like hills.
Kallana eats grass, fruits and bamboo just like other elephants. They enjoy the water and their baths, as well the mud baths. But these pygmy elephants are very quick, surprisingly quick for an elephant. They like to stay hidden and upon a slight disturbance would run for cover between rocks and trees. This may be the probable reason why they have not been spotted yet.
The Kerala Forest Department has sent teams to search this cryptid out. They only found a somewhat lone dwarf elephant but it is not believed to be the Kalllana cryptid.
Related: Diamond planet found in space
Mande Burung translates to the Man of the Forest. It refers to the 10 foot tall cryptid which is believed to roam the Garo Hills of Meghalaya. Descriptions of Mande Burung sound similar to other cryptid hominoids like the Yeti of Himalaya, Bigfoot of the Americas and Chuchunaa of the Siberian regions.
The Mande Burung is seen to be as bipedal, that is it walks on two legs like humans. It has an ape like face with a hairy body. Locals have seen these several times in the jungle and mountains. Although the people in the villages and the tribals have multiple eye witness of this cryptid, forest department and researchers have dismissed the idea of its existence.
In 2008, a group of young explorers found a place what they call as a Mande Burung nest. They found few strands of hair and decided to test these samples. It was sent to well known British biologist Ian Redmond who examined these on a scientific basis. The results were surprising.
The hair did not match any creature known to man. Dr. Redmond also decided to compare these hair samples with the ‘Yeti’ fur that Sir Edmund Hilary had found in his Mt. Everest expedition and found they closely matched.
After DNA tests and more, researchers believe that this ape like cryptid may be a new kind of undocumented primate. The area should be explored more to study these creatures unknown to science.
Monopod has to be one of the weirdest cryptids ever. The monopod cryptid was believed to be found only in India and most of its accounts are done by European scholars and still exist in their writings.
A monopod is a dwarf with only one leg. It has one foot and it moved by hopping. But this one leg was extremely strong and broad. The rest of their body was same as human. The monopods were always dwarf like men.
The one legged man was surprisingly, very fast and an excellent jumper. Their single leg was so broad that when they rested, the leg provided cover for the whole body from the sun, sort of like an umbrella. In recent times, these weird beings called monopods have not been spotted nor have they been documented anywhere in India.
Kali River goonch attacks
From 1998 to 2007, the village people who lived beside the Kali River were terrified. Something was pulling their men and cattle in the river and devouring it.
The Kali River, also called the Sharda River of Kali Ganga, is a natural boundary between India and Nepal. But these attacks were taking place in a particular river area running for 5 kms. The river has been a source for fishing for generations but never has such a scary incident happened. The creatures and fish were small to moderate in size but could never have been a man eating monster.
But these incidents continued. One day a 150 kg water buffalo was attacked from the banks and pulled into the water and eaten away. At least three people had been reported to be killed by this man eating cryptid. Nothing could be found but people were still getting killed. It was believed that the so called cryptid was a goonch fish that was hunting people. The goonch is a large catfish found in the waters of the Kali River. But no goonch could be big enough to kill a full grown man or a buffalo.
Jeremy Wade, world famous angler and biologist who ran the TV series River monsters visited the Kali River in an effort to solve the mystery of the Kali River goonch attacks. He carried research on a scientific basis. He became almost sure that the Kali River goonch attacks were not caused by any species of crocodile or bulls shark as many biologists believed. Another intriguing thing about the Kali River goonch attacks was that none of the body parts were found. This showed that the victims were swallowed whole.
The locals told him that the goonch could have developed a taste for human flesh because sometimes the half burned funeral pyres were sunk into the Kali River. Over a period of time the goonch have started to consider man as their food. But to test this, Jeremy Wade wanted to see if there are goonch that are big enough to eat a man. He led an underwater investigation and found at least six goonch fish that had grown to the size of a man. These were capable of attacking and eating people. They made an effort to catch one of these giant man eaters, but the giant killers of the Kali River always evaded them.
They were able to catch a big goonch fish as seen here in the video but according to their investigation, this was quite small compared to the killer ones.
The culprits of the Kali River goonch attacks were never found. But the most possible explanation of this cryptid was the goonch fish which had somehow become a freak of nature.
Piranhas of the Godavari River
In 2014- 15, there was a strange news that people were being attacked by piranhas but this time, not in the waters of Amazon but in Godavari! They were biting off flesh from humans and cutting off nets. What was this unknown fish? Was it a cyptid? While scientists laughed at this news, one could even see these piranhas being sold in the fish market. They were selling it under the name of Roop Chand.
The case of the red bellied piranhas of the Godavari sounds like a horror movie from Hollywood. Among all the fishes in the world it is the red bellied piranha that is possibly the most deadly. It has razor sharp teeth and lives in groups. In the rivers of Amazon, these fishes can bite and tear off a live human to pieces. It is this lethal reputation that has made it so popular in films. This has led to its demand to be kept in aquariums. And that is how the deadly piranha reached India.
Either by someone’s callousness or by accident these red bellied piranhas were released in the Godavari River. Their population has increased and it is reported that these have been also spotted in the Krishna River. They are becoming what is called an invasive species – that means a species that does not belong to this area and if introduced will harm the ecological balance. The reason these piranhas were not spotted earlier was that a cousin of piranhas called the paku are also found in the same river. At first everyone thought it was the Paku fish that had attacked them.
The red bellied piranhas of the Godavari were first spotted in Dowleswaram barrage in Rajahmundry. This aggressive carnivore is spreading and the Wildlife Institute of India has issued a warning that these piranhas of Godavari have the capability to compete with the local aquatic life and dominate it. It could be possible that the piranhas of Godavari can become a dominant species and there are no more fish left to catch and hat would lead to an attack on humans and cattle.
The study of Cryptozoology
Believe it or not, cryptid sightings happen all over the world. Here are some caught on tape:
Although the academic world still has to recognize the importance of cryptozoology, it cannot deny that it is this search for the unknown that leads to the growth of science. Cryptozoologists spend their own effort and money to explore unknown and dangerous territories purely out of passion. Many creatures which were believed that either ancient or cryptid get discovered on the way. The fossil fish Coelacanth was believed to be long dead and the witnesses were dismissed until scientists found a live fish. The stories of the monstrous octopus were believed to be only a legendary cryptid until the explorers found the Collosal Squid in the waters of Antarctica. No one in Europe believed that a giraffe was real until they saw one. Till then giraffe was a cryptid and its reports were scoffed upon. The one-horned Indian rhino was believed by many in the West as an imaginary cryptid or a variation of the unicorn.
The study of cryptozoology and cryptids is not to get into superstition or storytelling but to find the actual cause. Cryptozoology keeps our mind open and what we call as a cryptid is just another species to be found. Go out and explore the world, there is so much more o be seen and known.
Credits: cryptidz.wikia.com, Wikipedia, deccanchronicle.com/150525/nation-current-affairs/article/dreaded-fish-found-godavari-river , wondermondo.com/Attractions/Cryptozoology.htm, walkthroughindia.com, karlshuker.blogspot.in/2014/12/giant-blue-eels-of-ganges-worming-out.html, independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/in-the-footsteps-of-the-yeti-the-hunt-for-mande-burung-890306.html