Once upon a time, a climber set off to scale Nanga Parbat. Much to his surprise, he made his way up without much difficulty. He climbed further and further up, all the way to the summit. At the top, he came across a breathtakingly beautiful castle made of crystal glass. He went around it, and on seeing a door, he pushed it. By luck, it was unlocked.
He walked through it to find himself in a magnificent chamber. Through the clear walls, and huge windows, he could see outdoors. The open space seemed to be the castle garden. However, it had only a single, humongous tree planted in the centre, made out of coral. Pearls hung from the tree like fruit.
Delighted, excited, and perhaps a little greedy, he decided to pick some for himself, planning to sell them after he goes back home to make quick riches. He whipped out his sack in which he carried corn and filled it up with pearls. As he was making his way out of the door, he saw countless serpents following him. Panicking, he shouldered the sack and broke off into a run.
As he ran, a pearl fell out. A serpent swallowed it, and disappeared into thin air! Desperate to get rid of the unfriendly pursuers at all costs, he threw one pearl after another to make the serpents disappear. Each pearl he threw did exactly what he hoped it would do.
As he neared his village, Tarsing, just at the foot of the mountain, he ran out of pearls, with one serpent still at his heels. Perhaps it was a fairy, who appeared as a snake, but who knows?
When he reached his house, he became horrified to see that his family was distraught and distributing bread around the poor amongst the village. The serpent followed him, stopping right at his doorstep. In his despair, he threw the corn sack at the serpent. And lo behold! A pearl slipped out! The serpent eagerly swallowed it and vanished.
However, the man was never quite himself after that. He became very ill and had a high fever. No herb and no doctor could cure him, no tea would help him. After nearly a fortnight he passed away, for fairies never forgive men who steal from them, and those who stumble upon their secrets.
Distributing bread to the poor is a custom followed at funerals, in the story, it implies that his family had given him up for death.
Nanga Parbat, the Western anchor of the Himalayas lies in Pakistan. The name of the ninth-highest peak in the world translates to the “naked mountain”.
The locals believe that at the summit, is the “Shell-battekot”, which literally means, “The Castle of Glass-Stone”. The famed castle is said to be constructed from crystal in its entirety. It is also said to shield itself from view for outsiders, and those who disbelieve in its existence. The palace is said to be the home of the barai and the pari’s, the fairies. It is their home, this castle, which also gives the mountain its nickname, Darmyul, which means inaccessible, for the fairies do not take kindly to visitors invading their space.
The peak remained unscaled till 2016, till the late Ali Sadpara, Simone Moro and Alex Txikon conquered it, followed by the Polish climber Tomasz Mackiewicz and Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol. Sadpara was the legend who passed away while trying to scale the K2 in winter, along with Iceland's John Snorri and Chile’s Juan Pablo Mohr. He is also known for his attempt to scale the K2 without oxygen.