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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

The Legend of Koh-e-Chiltan

Updated: Jul 22, 2023


Deep within the rugged mountains of the Sulaiman range, concealed by the mysterious allure of the landscape, stands a peak known as Koh-e-Chiltan. Its name is derived from Chehel-tan, meaning "Forty Bodies," an eerie tale that exists in multiple versions, passed down in both Balochi and Brauhi traditions, each with its distinct variations.

Legend speaks of a couple dwelling in the heart of the Sulaiman mountain range, whose hearts were burdened by the cruel fate of childlessness. Despite their enduring love, they remained devoid of offspring, and this sorrow cast a dark pall over their lives.

In one version of the tale, a miraculous twist of destiny suddenly blessed the couple not with one or two children, but an astonishing forty. However, another rendition, recorded by Harry De Wint in 1891, tells of the couple seeking the intervention of a saint. The saint's son performed a ritual, dropping forty pebbles in the woman's lap, and fervently praying for a child with each pebble.

Ironically, the couple, accustomed to their childless life, found themselves overwhelmed by the challenge of raising forty children, a number far beyond their means. Struggling to provide for them all, they devised a mischievous plan to leave all but one child in an empty neighbouring mountain.

Years later, the mother's conscience gnawed at her, her love for her abandoned children overpowering her guilt. Defying her husband's wishes, she journeyed back to the mountain, hoping to find her lost soul. To her astonishment, she encountered thirty-nine living children, playing and frolicking in the wilderness. Filled with joy, she returned home to fetch her remaining child, eager to reunite the siblings. However, when she revisited the mountain with her husband the next day, it was desolate—devoid of any children, living or deceased. The thirty-nine infants she had seen were not her own flesh and blood; they were the spirits of the children she had abandoned, seeking vengeance for their tragic fate.

Devastated, the couple faced the wrath of these vengeful souls, who led them astray in the treacherous mountains. No traveller can venture into Koh-e-Chiltan alone and escape unscathed. The haunting cries and child-like voices of the forty spirits torment and bewilder wanderers, driving them to the brink of madness.

 

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