Sunday, November 2, 2014

Monster of Kausar Nag

Gamera of Japanese Kaiju series
"One of our friends went to bathe in the spring and with little knowledge of swimming he went inside. Suddenly his two feet stopped swimming. We took his turban and tied a stone to it, and threw it over (the water). So he reached the bank by pulling it along with it. Then we saw that an animal had swallowed his feet in his mouth. However, much we tried to injure it with stone, stick and hatchet, it did not have any effect on it, until it swallowed the body of our friend to the knees. So we put wood on its head and lighted it. As it got burnt by the fire a sound like gun-fire was heard from the stomach of the monster. It jumped once into the air and flung itself into the spring. It was destined to die of its own food. The animal resembled a shield ('Alq). Its length was two cubits and its width at the lower side was one cubit, and towards the head 8 girahs. Its skin was hard and granulated and that is why striking with the hatchet did not have any effect on it."

~ An account of visit to Kausar Nag narrated by Moulvi Ghulam Hasan Shah (1832-1898) in his 'Tarikh-i- Hasan'.

I came across it in 'Historical Geography of Kashmir: Based on Arabic and Persian Sources from A.D. 800 to 1900' by S. Maqbul Ahmad, Raja Bano (1984) where the writer suggest Hasan must have come across an alligator. However, given that gangetic turtles are found in some other lakes in the Himalayan region, it is more likely Hasan saw a type of a turtle, probably a Snapping Turtle, a creature that is known to survive in icy lakes.

Interestingly, while most Kashmiris now would be able to write tomes about Kausar Nag, its religious significance, its environmental significance and its history, why the war over it is necessary, yet, none can tell if there is (or was) a species of turtle found in the lake, its breeding cycle and diet. We are still busy chasing monsters.
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