The Haunted Forest: Daruka Van
The Haunted Forest: Daruka Van
Tales of haunted forests and woods have been an integral part in supernatural folklore since ages. Many of us have grown up stories about allegedly haunted forests and trees where malicious entities reside like the ‘Brahma- Rakshas’; an evil entity who possesses and haunts its unwary victim for a long time. The legend of ‘Brahma-Rakshas has been told a countless number of times to children who were not amenable to discipline since ages. We have also heard the story and it was told in a dramatic way to create the maximum fear amongst us when we were young. On a more serious note, the enigma and mystery of haunted forests are still unexplained all over the world. Now, that can be ‘Hoia Baciu’ Forest in Romania, ‘The Aokigihara Forest in Japan’, or even the ‘The Black Forest’ in Colorado, U.S.A. etc. The amount of unexplained paranormal activity that takes place in these forests is still a puzzle to many researchers, scientists, and paranormal experts. India too has its share of tales of haunted forests and trees deeply embedded in its collection of unexplained and supernatural phenomena.
This particular story is about a haunted forest in the state of Gujarat, India, which is based on a legend that has its roots in Indian Mythology. It is believed that long time ago, there was this demon king named Daruka, who had got a boon from Lord Shiva that enabled him to be the king of this forest and also gave him powers that made him invincible in this forest that is no one could defeat him while being in the forest itself. This newfound power made him arrogant and brutal. In his bloated ego, he started kidnapping innocent people from nearby villages and torturing and tormenting them in the forest. This went for a long period when one devotee of Lord Shiva pleaded him to intervene and end all their miseries and suffering which Lord Shiva did by killing Daruka.
From that day, it is said that this forest is haunted and whosoever enters this forest does not return or even if he/she returns, then is not in a normal state of mind, that is that person becomes crazy. Although there is a Lord Shiva temple right at the entrance of the forest, surprisingly no one ventures into the forest after dark and not too deep even in daylight.
This legend was told by the villagers to a group of adventure seekers (Rohit, Abhay, Praveen & Asif) as they wished to explore the forest and debunk the myth of this haunting. Although all four of them were bold and adventurous, Praveen believed in these things and was a bit hesitant to enter into such a venture; but was overwhelmingly subdued by his friends and forced to accompany them. The villagers at first were too scared when they heard about the proposition; but money overcame all fears, yet, they also warned them about the dangers but still the four friends chose to ignore their warnings and went ahead with their plan. The villagers had given each of them a holy Rudrakshas for their protection as these four were adamant with their plan. From the moment they set foot in the forest something was amiss. All of them could sense that something or someone was closely watching their every move. However, they were so excited that they were oblivious to the very real danger about to befall them. So on a dull morning, the four of them went into the forest and that was the last that was ever heard from either one of them.
After a few days, when the family members of the four friends started growing worried and asked the police for help in finding their children. The police launched a search party with police dogs in the forest, but they could not find anything except Praveen who was laying unconscious deep in the forest clutching the Rudrakshas. When they brought him out and helped him regain consciousness, it was of no use as he had gone completely crazy and started screaming and saying that” he is going to kill us all” and then lost his consciousness. The search continued for 3 days for the remaining boys Rohit, Abhay & Asif but unfortunately, there was no sign of them and the search had to be called off. The families of all the boys were completely devastated and went into deep grief for losing their loved ones.
One such family was that of Rohit, his parents were completely grief-stricken and his mother had a nervous breakdown. Their daughter Diksha who studying in Delhi was informed of this tragedy and she too was grief-stricken as she and Rohit were very close. So Diksha decided to go back to her house in Gujarat, and when her friends come to know about this, they too are saddened by this and want to come with her to pay their respects and give solace to the family. So when Neetu, Prerna, Sanjay, Varun & Raman express their desire to accompany Diksha; she is overwhelmed by feeling that she reluctantly agrees. When they arrive at Diksha’s house, they find that everyone is so depressed and in mourning and her mother’s condition is okay but not normal, so when she pays a visit to her mother, she cries looking at her condition but her mother shows strength at a time of weakness like this and says that there is still hope for Rohit as the police have not found anybody till now, so there might be a chance that they might be still alive.
This though seems strange to Diksha but it gives her an idea to go look for her brother in the hope that he might still be alive with the others. As she outlines her plan to others and especially to her father, the first reaction she gets from is that of absolute shock and surprise and he rejects the idea on the ground that he has barely come out of depression from losing one child and cannot bear to lose another one to that wretched forest, even her mother pleads to her to not harbour such crazy ideas. Her friends are also stunned at first but they reluctantly agree except Neetu, who says that she will rather stay here, and look after Diksha’s parents and wait for their safe return. Diksha has a hard time convincing her parents about her plan but then she says that “what if Rohit is still alive and waiting to be rescued”, this argument somehow turns the tables in her favour and her parents reluctantly agree.
So while Diksha’s friends make all the arrangements for the trip, Diksha pays a visit to the police station and makes enquiries about the search party’s report, what she hears seems so bizarre to her that even one moment she also thinks of dropping the plan, but then the inspector says that there were areas that they could not search as the dogs were very frightened to go deep in the forest and one strange thing was there was not a single animal or bird in that forest. Upon hearing this Diksha’s resolve bolsters as there were places in the forest where her brother could be still alive.
Finally, the day arrives when Diksha and her friends arrive at the village from where her brother Rohit and his friends had entered the forest. Again the villagers tell them about the story behind this haunting and plead fervently that they should not enter this wretched place, but Diksha had her mind made up and convinces the villagers that she will be all right and she will try to bring the others out. So villagers seeing her determination and courage bless her and give her and her friends the same Rudrakshas for their protection. This time one thing was different from the last time that one of the villagers Bhola along with his sycophant Ramu offer to act as their guides in the forest. So Diksha along with Prerna, Sanjay, Varun, Raman, and Bhola& Ramu enter the forest.
Here also, it’s Dejavu all over again; as now also the same sensations creep into the group from the very beginning of their entry into the forest it seems that someone is watching them every step of the way. Even Prerna feels this and conveys this to Varun and Sanjay who just laugh at her. As they keep on proceeding, they find it is really strange that there are no signs of any animals or birds in the forest. Anyways they move on, and as night falls they decide to camp for the day.
Here during the campfire, as all of them resting in their tents, Ramu who was of lecherous type tries to peek into Prerna’s tent and is caught by Rohit who then gives him a good thrashing and calls Bhola and tells him about this. Bhola, upon hearing this gets very angry on Ramu and asks him to leave the group and go back to the village. When Ramu tries to protest, Sanjay gets angrier and just literally picks him up and throws him to the ground which enrages Ramu and he tries to fight back but fails, so he leaves them and wanders off in the forest. As he is returning, he can hear soft footfalls behind him and they stop when he stops. So he thinks that it might be Bhola who has come to apologise to him and when he turns back, he sees something so terrible that he is unable to utter a sound and this is the last we hear from him.
Meanwhile, the search party is unaware of this and they keep on searching forest when suddenly Bhola can see something in the distance and advises the group to stay there while goes up and checks. As the group is waiting for his return, they hear a loud screaming like an animal which jolts them and they rush towards the sound, they find Bhola is lying down on the ground with all his intestines taken out and is bleeding to death. This horrible sight scares the whole group and Bhola tells them to run for their lives as” he is not going to spare anyone, he is going to kill all of you”, and dies. The whole group panics and starts running and it is now that they see a strange mist towards all directions. They feel trapped inside and Sanjay and Varun in their fright forget to take their Rudrakshas out and run in different directions but the mist which now has a hideous face that anybody will die of a heart attack if he/she merely looks at it, and it envelops them and kills them instantly. Prerna who was a bit faint of heart seeing this horrible apparition dies of a massive cardiac seizure. Diksha and Raman seeing their friends die in front of their eyes are very scared and they run as fast as they can to save themselves with the apparition following them.
After running for quite some time Diksha and Raman find a small cottage deep inside the jungle which surprises them that who would live in such a jungle and that too in such interiors.
Meanwhile back home Diksha’s family and Neetu along with other friends’ families have gathered in the village and are anxiously waiting for their loved one's safe return, not knowing that the spirit has already claimed five lives. On the other hand, Diksha and Raman enter the cottage in the hope of finding refuge from the danger outside. It is here that Diksha finds her brother Rohit’s handy cam which she had given to him on his birthday. Seeing this Diksha becomes hopeful and starts the camera where she finds a video of her brother who is speaking in front of the camera that “We had come here to debunk the haunting but we have ourselves fallen prey to this supernatural being and his friends are dead except Praveen who is missing and now there is no escape so he has accepted his fate and is waiting for his death.” Then Diksha can see the same mist in the camera which envelops her brother and he screams for one last time and there is nothing.
This breaks her down completely and she starts crying uncontrollably realizing finally that her brother is no longer alive and now it is her turn. But Raman gives her support and courage and tells that “If now you breakdown, how will you support your family?” with that she gets some courage and they wait for the appropriate time to get out of the cottage. To help themselves they take out the sacred Rudrakshas and carry it with them, the mist tries to prevent their escape; but with the blessing of Lord Shiva, both Diksha and Raman somehow manage to escape from the forest and break the tragic news to everybody that no one else is alive. Although everyone is saddened by the tragedy, Rohit’s family get closure after seeing the video and pray that now his soul would be in a better place. Diksha, though could not bring back her brother but managed to save Raman was comforting to her. Although the authorities did not believe of such things as paranormal they could not privately disprove the video which Diksha had made online. So they took down the video and to this nobody goes near that forest ever again.