Environment Magazine

Disembodied Hands and Other Residents of the Shencottah Gap

By Adityagangadharan

So I have already written about the poochaandi that used to haunt the hairpin bends and sit next to me in the jeep while I was driving. But there are lots of other ghostly experiences that occur in the Shencottah Gap. One common complaint that people had was being strangled by ‘entities’ at night. Sometimes, I used to wake up to find 3 or 4 people sitting together all huddled up and nervously looking around, and on enquiry, they would tell me that there had been strangling attempts on them.

And then there was the time when someone was attacked by a disembodied hand in his sleep – yes just a hand – at night, which tried to pull him off somewhere. There was a tug of war between the other people nearby and this hand, and the hand eventually lost. Visiting that building a couple of days later, I eagerly stayed awake to see this hand with DSLR camera ready, but sadly it didn’t show up. Maybe it was too ashamed by its defeat in the tug of war.

On the subject of mythical animals, there allegedly exists a species of elephant called the ‘kal-anai’ in the Agasthyamalai region. This elephant is apparently much smaller than average, and very aggressive. Seems like a good description of any young male elephant that is becoming independent! Personally, I think the muntjac-roo is more creative. It basically looks like a muntjac, slightly longer tusks, but can hop on two legs like a kangaroo. And it is purple. The hopping skills are very useful because its main predator is a tiger variant that can jump over 100 metres in one bound.

A more rational fear is that of murderous lion tailed macaques. In one camp site there was a troupe that lived right next door. They usually came for a supervisory visit in the mornings while you were brushing your teeth. There was one that was particularly magnificent:


One day this guy started jumping around on the tree branch above me. I then realized he was staring at me and shaking the branches vigorously. Next thing I know this big, heavy branch comes crashing down and just misses me by inches. I thought maybe this was just by chance, but it happened again the next day. After that I treat all lion tailed macaques with suspicion.

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