The valley of saints and dragons. ~
Pakistani heritage is full of rich history and culture.
Tales of tradition and folklore include songs of lovers, of fighters and conquerors, detailing the path of our country. And though you may have heard it all, we just stumbled upon a stretch of land in the north that has a story behind it. Oh, and friends, you’re going to want to hear it.
The Chipursan Valley in Hunza is known as the valley of Saints and Dragons, to inhabitants.
That’s right, I said dragons.
Nestled in the upper area of Hunza, in the Gojal Valley, Chipursan’s natives all know of the stories that outline the ‘true’ history of the area. The myths are mostly used as a source of entertainment, however, upon hearing them, you may want to question that fact after all.
Though a number of tales are spread in the region, we are going to stick to the two most popular; of Saints and Dragons. Sounds like an episode of Game of Thrones, doesn’t it? Legend has it, the area of Chipursan used to be densely populated 500 years ago. Muslims and non-Muslims both occupied the area and most were quite wealthy, obtaining their livelihood through livestock and agriculture.
Now, let’s begin with the story of a Saint.
A saint by the name of Baba Ghundi made his way to Chipursan from Afghanistan in efforts to spread Islam. His aim was to appeal to the people of Chipursan and spread the message of Shia faith to the people. Ghundi approached the people of a large living scape, near present-day Shitmirg. Around 300 households were in the area yet no one would listen to him, in fact, the only person that offered Baba Ghundi some mercy was an elderly woman who gave him some milk. The rest of the town drove out the Saint and showed no concern whatsoever.
Extremely angry with those who offered no assistance, the Saint asked the woman to gather her things and flee the city as fast as possible. Once she was gone, torrential rains flooded the entire settlement, destroying the entire city and according to tradition, leaving behind the moraine that is there today. Everything was gone except for a strip of cultivation and the home of the old woman who showed mercy to the Saint. You may know this spot as Kampir Dayor or translated, the village of old women.
Pretty cool right? Now let’s talk about a nine-headed dragon.
Another popular tale in the region concerns the same Saint as our previous story, but with a twist. Legend has it that near present-day Ziarat, there was a lake in which a dragon lived in. A NINE-HEADED dragon Casual. Apparently, whenever the dragon was hungry, it would eat a person from the village. People in the village lived in fear and would offer a man or woman from the village to the beast. One day the saint from Afghanistan, Baba Ghundi, was passing by the lake and saw a young man standing by frightened. The Saint asked the man why he was so scared to which the man responded by telling him of the dragon and how it would feast on the people of the village.
Upon hearing this, Baba Ghundi told the man to gesture when the dragon would appear. The man agreed and when the dragon came out, Baba Ghundi used his sword to tear the dragon into pieces which subsequently gave him another urban legend name, the ‘Dragonslayer.’ Once the village heard of the defeat, the inhabitants of the area threw celebration upon celebration, which included certain activities that the Saint did not approve of and he cursed them with the destruction of the town. It is said that till this day, the remains of the lake and bones of the dragon can be seen on the way to the Ziarat of Baba Ghundi.
If you were to go to this area in Hunza, locals could tell you stories about the area that have been shared through generations of inhabitants. Of course, there is no way of confirming folktales such as this one but knowing that the possibility of a whole other world in our very own mountains possibly once existing is both exciting and extremely terrifying. A nine-headed dragon? Flying around town? No thank you.
Have you heard this story before? Know any other urban legends? Tales of tradition? Stories of our people? Let us know in the comments below. Love you.
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Cover photo source: Lost with Purpose