Top 10 Indian Legends and Stories that Actually Happened
We have heard many fables and legends during our childhood from our grandparents and parents that we used to enjoy a lot. Most of the stories were just passed on and recycled, but some of them though inane had truth in them. Here is a compilation of those top 10 Indian legends and stories that actually happened.
10. Bugs Living Inside Body
One of the most famous urban legends is insects and bugs infesting inside a human body. This legend came as a shocking truth for the parents of 13-year-old Chandan Goswami of West Bengal in June 17, 2003. Chandan Goswami began producing winged beetles in his urine after the eggs hatched inside his body. The information came directly from the state’s medical education director, Dr. Chittaranjan Maity. He told reporters insects appeared to be hatching in a fistula near the boy’s groin, where the doctors were focusing their efforts on killing the egg. A few days later, another boy in West Bengal was hospitalized with complaints of live dung beetles emerging out of his rectum.
9. Flaming Animals
We have heard the tale of monkey god, Hanuman setting fire to Lanka with his flaming tail. There are also other fables of animals on fire. One true stories of such real life incident is when Timur invaded Delhi in 1398. There he came face to face with the army of Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud. Sultan’s army consisted of 120 war elephants armored with chain mail and poisoned tusks. On seeing his soldiers fleeing the battlefield, Timur order all his frontline camels to be covered in wood, straw and be set on fire. As the flaming camels charged forwards towards Sultan’s army, startled elephants turned around and stampeded their own army. Timur victoriously entered Delhi after that, destroyed it and left it in ruins.
8. Hailstones the Size of Oranges
Hailstones are formed by ice crystals being tossed up and down inside storm clouds. Most hails measure between a quarter-inch to nearly 6 inches in diameter. In April of 1888, Moradabad in the present state of Uttar Pradesh experienced the worst hailstorm in the recorded history. People reported hailstones varying in size from pigeon’s eggs to the size of oranges. Larger hailstones fall at speeds exceeding 100 mph. About 230 people were killed in the hailstorm and there was extensive loss of livestock. Sixteen others died in the nearby Bareilly. The storm was accompanied by strong winds, which toppled many houses in the region. Most of the people who were injured or died were farmers of the community, who were working in their fields. By the time the storm had dissipated, there was accumulation of hail up to two feet.
7. Great Indian Famine
Famines are no longer a thing of the present, but in the past famines were so severe that due to non-availability of food, people were forced to eat even tree barks. Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on southwest monsoon. In pre-Independence India without adequate goods transportation, failure in monsoon was a major reason behind a lot of famines and droughts. There were two most notable famines in the 19th century, in 1870s and 1890s. The estimated death toll from the great famine of 1876 to 1878 is estimated to be anywhere between 50 lakhs to 80 lakhs. In the famine of 1890s, estimated 4 crore people were affected. It struck in the large portion of Norther India owing to failure of crops due to severe drought. Between the period of 1875 to 1900 there were a total of 18 famines with an estimated death of 2.6 crore Indians.
6. Worms Coming Out of Skin
In the 1980s, India had a witnessed torturous disease known as the dracunculiasis caused by guinea worm. Estimated 40,000 Indians suffered this disease. This disease is caused by consumption of water contaminated by guinea worm larvae. The worm has an incubation period of one year. The female worm can grow up to 2-3 feet in length and moves towards the extremities causing an intense burning sensation. One year after being infected, the worm creates a blister in the skin of feet or knees. The blister ruptures within 72 hours exposing one end of the worm. The worm takes can take anywhere from hours to months to come out of the body. In 1983, India launched the world’s first National Guinea Worm Eradication Programme and by 2000 India was certified guinea worm free by WHO. It can easily be solved by either drinking boiled water or fine filtering it.
5. Man-Eating Animals
We have all heard of man-eating tigers or bears as part of childhood tales. While it is not uncommon for ferocious animals to attack humans, man-eaters are those distinct class of animals, who develop a taste for human flesh. One of the most prolific serial killer in recorded human history happens to be tigress of Champawat town with an estimated 430 kills. She was shot by Jim Corbett in 1907. Tiger of Mundachipallam in Tamil Nadu killed 7 people. Tigress of Jowlagiri was responsible for deaths of 15 people in Mysore and was later killed by Kenneth Anderson. Tigers of Chowgar were a pair of Bengal tigers that were responsible for 64 deaths over a span of five years. Most of the reported cases are from pre-Independence era. There were also reported incidents of man eating leopards in India. The main reason behind the aggressive nature of wild cats towards humans is believed to be due to three factors, i.e., salinity of their drinking water, their habitat being in close proximity to human beings and consumption of human corpses during floods.
4. Country Divided by a Long Wall
Did you know India was once divided by a wall that ran from Punjab to Orissa? The wall was more than 4000 km long and was not built out of mortar or bricks. The wall was a hedge (row of shrubs) known as The Great Hedge or Inland Customs Line that had its beginning in 1803. The hedge was 12 feet high in some parts. The hedge was planted in place by East India Company to check on salt smuggling. Salt tax brought East India Company the biggest chunk of their revenue. In 1784-85 alone salt tax brought them revenue of 62,57,470 rupees. One big problem faced by the company was that salt was free to anyone who had access to salt basins or the ocean and salt was one of the most smuggled item back then due to high prices. The line consisted of a customs post every one mile linked by raised pathways to allow people cross it every 4 miles. The hedge was finally abandoned in 1879 at which point salt tax was applied at the point of manufacture, which remained until 1946.
3. Real Life Mowgli
Everyone has read or seen tales of Mowgli as they grew up. The character of Mowgli from Jungle Book was Rudyard Kipling’s best creation and everyone who grew up in the 90s has the song “Jungle jungle pata chala hai” imprinted in their minds. It is the story of a child who grew up with wolves and other animals of the jungle. There was been severe real life accounts of children who have grown up with animals from a young age. They are known as feral children. There are Indian case of Dina Sanichar of Sekandra (1867), Kamala and Amala (1920), Ramachandra (1970s), and a recent case of an unnamed boy in 2007. Dina Sanichar (pictured above) at the age of 6 years was removed from a wolf’s cave in 1867. The case of Kamala and Amala is one of the best documented and perhaps the most controversial. According to the diary of The Reverend Joseph Amrito Lal Singh, they were rescued from wolf’s den when they were 18 months (Amala) and 8 years old (Kamala). When they were brought to live in an orphanage, they walked on all fours and denied cooked meals or clothes to wear. They often bit other people. Ramachandra was found in 1970s in the Kuano River in Uttar Pradesh at 12 years of age and lived an amphibian lifestyle. Even after human contact, he spent most of time in the nearby rivers and lakes. He died in 1982 after being scalded with boiling water by a woman, whom he had frightened. Most of the feral children exhibit difficulty in acquiring normal human social and emotional skills.
2. Great Plague
There is a folktale in Western India that once an unknown disease gripped India and in rural areas, the causalities were so severe that there weren’t enough people alive to bury or burn the dead. Well, the story is true. The pandemic was worldwide and is infamously known as third plague pandemic. The bubonic plague began in Yunnan province of China in 1855. The plague came to India in 1894. The outbreak was sudden and had an incubation period of 4.5 to 6 days and on the onset of symptoms those infected had high fever often accompanied by delirium. Soon they had swollen glands and death occurred at the end of 48 hours from the onset of symptoms. The epidemic was initially reported in port cities of Mumbai, Karachi, Pune and Kolkata. By 1899, the disease had spread to other parts of India and rural communities. In Kolkata, 34,000 deaths were reported in a single week. English government took drastic steps to eradicate the disease by burning whole sections of towns and segregating the inhabitants from the infected patients. About 90% of those infected were dead. As the plague spread to famine-stricken districts, things went from bad to worse. By 1900, Chennai came under the purview of plague and by early 20th century, most of the world was infected. Over the next 30 years, over 1.2 crore deaths were officially reported in India.
1. Sky is Falling
While sky never fell literally, but that is what people really thought was going to happen in Indian villages when it was announced over radio and national televisions that Skylab was going to crash and India was directly in path of it re-entry on July 11, 1979.. Skylab was an American space station that was built and launched by NASA in 1973. In the panic that ensued, people abandoned their houses to move to destinations believed to be safer from the debris. How they calculated this however is unclear. There were mass prayers and pujas performed in Temples. People were preparing special delicacies for their last supper. In fact, a legislator from Bihar appealed to government to take off the ban on liquor, so that potential victims could enjoy their last drink. Prime Minister Morarji Desai asked U.S. Government to pay compensation for any Indian victims of Skylab debris. Insurances companies cashed in on the opportunity and profited heavily by selling risk policies. Hurtling towards earth Skylab finally crashed southeast of Perth in Australia and not a single human life was harmed. Many people in India believed it crashed in Arabian Sea and attributed this to the heavy rainfall during the same period of time, which isn’t true.