Conquering the witches in the folklore of Dainkund- Himachal
Conquering the untameable is often seen as the will of the mightiest. And, this holds true when we hear the innumerable folklore that sing the praises of the Mighty, making them – immortal among the mortals.
The mountains are always full of mystic folklore and the people here, have their own set of beliefs and traditions. A secluded hut in a corner, an eerie rock formation on the way, a lake out of nowhere, strange flora and fauna scattered all around not seen in the claustrophobic cities –all this and more, adds to the overall charm and mysticism. Add to this the unending floating clouds, ineffable greenery and woods, meandering trails and a temple revered by the villagers and you get a scenic place like DK aka Dainkund in Himachal Pradesh, India.
Dainkund is around 10-12kms from the Hill Station of Dalhousie. It is at a much higher altitude and one can literally get a 360-degree view of the Dhauladhars, Chamba valley and the plains of Punjab from here.
The first time I heard about this beautiful place, someone had mispronounced it as ‘Daynkund’. Like any other travel enthusiast when I visit a place, I am more interested in the etymology of the place name and its history. On interacting with a local shop-keeper on DK, I got to know that the place is actually known as ‘DainKund’ in which dain (in Hindi) is for witch and kund is for a pond.
Pond of the witches
Folklore has- that there lived a witch(may be more than one) in these mountains, who was troubling the villagers and resided in the pond. This was an inconvenience to the villagers as they had to walk and trudge long distances to quench the thirst of their cattle, fearing the witch. So, all the villagers prayed to their forest deity of ‘Pohlani/Pauloni Mata’ who was pleased by their religious fervor. She vanquished the witch and gave back the pond for the daily usage of the villagers. And since then it has been known as ‘Dainkund’.
The distance between the Temple of Pouloni and Dainkund is roughly around 6-7kms (varies with the path you take in the hills).The two are separated by an Airforce station. The kund area is not easily accessible as it falls inside the establishment. Only the military, shepherds and the villagers are allowed to traverse this path. Also, the folklore has imparted an eerie feel to this area, hence it is secluded and has become a forbidden place!
Being part of the armed forces, a group us- one day, did try to visit the Kund area in the evening after our trek to Pouloni mandir. However, we could not stay for long as the local people advised us to get back to our base before sunset as occasionally bears and snow leopards have been spotted there. The pond was dry with minimum water. May be, it gets filled during the monsoons. But what caught our attention was the scenic beauty of the place, untampered and intact, brimming with a carpet of white flowers. From afar, it looked like a sheet of snow!
By the time we actually reached the edge of the mountain, it was almost dusk and the crimson hue of the sun was gracing the rocks and barks of the trees.
The waters of the River Ravi flowing across the plains of Punjab was glittering and its banks could be vaguely seen under the twilight.The entire landscape looked surreal in saffron.
The sun returning back to its abode after a hard day’s work was indeed a sight to behold. The various colours it imparted to the sky indeed made Mother Nature look blissful!
We were a little disappointed that we could not capture the infamous pond of the witches.Something held us back from taking a photo. Were we scared or the pond looked pale in front of the setting sun? I am still unable to recollect why none of us have a photo of the pond! I would like to believe that the reason was the setting saffron ball.
Thanks to the folklore, this place is unexplored, serene, clean and neat.Hope it remains the same or else it might become too commercialized. With these thoughts, we returned back to our base with excitement, as if we had indeed conquered and vanquished the witches of Dainkund!
If the so called terrain of the witch can be so surreal and mesmerizing though spooky, how would the landscape look on the trail to goodness?! Read about this and more in my post tomorrow…Till then Ciao!