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Duronto Thero

by Syed Arabi Khalique 6 months ago in supernatural · updated 11 days ago
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The lost Temple of Sundarban

"The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window."

As a kid, I remember sitting down with all of my cousins, waiting for grandma to start telling her wonderful stories. Especially on winter nights, when it was all warm and cozy inside. Winter was always an amazing time for us youngsters, holidays would be right around the corner, after one big hurdle ( end of year exams). After the exams, our parents would take us to our village home, so that we could play outside and enjoy the outdoors, all while they relaxed and chatted away with cups of tea.

I wasn't good at any sports but I loved reading, so most of my vacation at our village would be spent reading my favourite novels and comic books, while sipping on a glass of Tang. I remember those days fondly, maybe it is the golden covered veil of nostalgia that is masking my mind to make them seem more magical, or maybe they were magical. I still remember a lot of those stories grandma used to tell us, especially since she would repeat many of them, which was understandable because you do run out of things to narrate after the thousandth story. From ghost stories to recollections of pranks, she told us a lot but there was one that I still remember vividly, a tale about my grandfather.


On a stormy winter night 12 years ago, the entire family was in the village for the holidays. Me, my two sisters and my 27 cousins. Also my father, with his 5 brothers and 7 sisters, and mom. My father and all the elders were at one of their uncle's house, which was 5 minutes away from grandma's. Since it was raining furiously, they decided to stay the night there. There was no need for them to come through all that rain and thunder. On our side, it was me and the cousins, along with grandma and some of our servants (We were a rich family) It was a perfect setting for some fascinating tales, and we knew it. All us kids surrounded the grand old lady, sitting on the carpeted floor, begging her to narrate one of her tales for us. It took us some pleading but at the end she sighed.

I don't think I can do her justice if I retell the story verbatim, since I know I can't capture the whimsical tone of the whole narration. What I can do, and will do, is try to write it the way it was, and has been, etched in my mind. I will start with putting down some actual known history surrounding the story, which grandma didn't tell us.


About 56 years ago, when my grandfather was a young dashing man and had just married grandma, a mysterious artifact was discovered in the tiger laden greenery of the Sundarbans. Interest peaked all over the world upon the unearthing of this artifact, which was an ornate piece of clay pot. A very distinct style was on the pot, and even the making of it seemed different than the methods traditionally used. However, it wasn't the design of the pot that scoured the curiosity of the public and the educated, but the fact that after tests were done, it all pointed to the pot being made 3.2 million years ago.

There were several questions raised about it. First, was the dating correct? 7 different and seperate tests were done and all of them put the date roughly around 2.8 million to 6 million years, with the consensus being 3.2 million. Second, how can a clay pot survive that long, especially in the wet, humid conditions of the largest mangrove forest? It was made of clay but the method used was unlike any other. It was this unknown technique that made the pot last that long. But why such a fuss over a piece of utensil? It was because the ancestors of modern human that existed in those times were not thought to be capable of producing such crafted work, surpassing those of even modern times.

So the question that it raised was this. Had we underestimated the intelligence of ancient man? or was it that perhaps a civilization of men, separate from the rest of the world, advanced to being a intelligent civilized society, of which that pot was a relic of? Both theories had substantial claim, and the implication of either of those would have had a massive impact of our knowledge of this world, and the understanding of our own history on Earth.

Many acclaimed scientists and experts of the field didn't take the artifact seriously. One piece of clay doesn't just change the entire history of civilized mankind, that which took years and decades of study to build. They needed more data, more evidence, hard evidence that could challenge the established history.

On the other, more controversial side, folks were pointing out that the extraterrestrial might have had a hand on that. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't entirely out of question, for one only needed to take a look at the object and they would realize that the designs and patterns on it were alien to us. They told of strange happenings, of eerie tales that vaguely resembled any human experience. It was chilling even, when one could faintly understand what was being said through those peculiar patterns but couldn't put them into human words. It wasn't supernatural but the feeling was odd. Alas! Science and its upholders didn't count that as an evidence, even if it was impressive.


One of the foremost proponents of the separate civilizaton theory was the noted Italian explorer and historian Ikar Alessandro Assante. He had ,for a long time, been putting forward the hypothesis that the progression of the human intellect on Earth was not a rising, inclined line but an irregular one, similar to the Manhattan skyline more so than anything else. Upon the discovery of the clay pot, Ikar dropped all that he was doing and boarded a flight to New Delhi. There he met with the famous expressionist and scholar Raj Banna Qureshi, who he was friends with. Both of them then flew to Dhaka, which was then the administrative capital of East Pakistan.

The duo had a plan. The clay pot presented for them an opportunity, an opportunity to gather proofs for the theory and also to cement their name in the annals of anthropology, and perhaps history itself. With that intention, they set forth for Sundarbans, going through the present day Khulna. They were not proceeding for that expedition all alone obviously, nobody would last long in that death trap of a forest without the proper preparations. About 13 people went with them. A doctor from the Johns Hopkins university was in the group, since it was a risky venture, along with a botanist from the University of Milan. Two archaeologist, brothers Allen and Noel Fleming from the Oxford university, joined out of their own curiosity. A local expert boatsman, who was more than familiar with the area, was hired to take them around the forest through the Bay of Bengal, and also to guide them through the mangrove forest. Two of the Fleming brothers' students were brought along . They were expert drivers as well, since driving those 1964 Jeep CJ-5A on rough terrains was no easy matter. Two honey gatherers, who went in and out of the forest for their daily living, were hired as guides, since Sundarbans was a treacherous place for the ill experienced.

My grandfather, whose name Syed Qadir Chowdhury, was the last one in the group. He was the youngest son of an influential zaminder of Sylhet. A Cambridge educated man, he was also a reputed marksman, said to have been the one of the best in the entire Indian subcontinent. Grandpa was a classy man, he dressed fashionably and always liked to be in the midst of people, having their attention. However, when it came to hunting, he would become a different man. Disciplined, silent and courageous, it was he who took down the one eyed Man-eating tiger of Chandannagar. The tiger was ruthless and vicious, killing people for what it seemed like pure morbid joy. Someone had in its younger days shot it in the eye, which left it partially blind but no less dangerous. What made my grandpa join the hunt was when it got into a school and dragged a little boy to the forest. That incident made the village and its surrounding cities put a bounty on the blind tiger. The story of how my grand old man hunted down the man-eater is legendary and I will recount it on a different paper someday, but what the pursue did for him was that it made him famous, not only in the Indian subcontinent but all over the world.

Ikar was a very good friend of my grandfather, he even was invited to the wedding, which he couldn't attend since by the time the invitation reached him the wedding was already done. He knew his friend Syed, a man of natural intellect and daring curiosity. The perfect man for such an undertaking.


The year was 1965 and the month was February. Spring was in its full bloom, and the 13 set out on their expedition to the Sundarbans.

The place where the pot was found wasn't deep in the forest, so they reached that in quick time. Nothing was out of the ordinary in the area but nonetheless they set a camp there. Intensive field work had to be done as the Fleming brothers were very meticulous at their job.

The idea was to either find another artifact or to get an impression from the environment, signalling the existence of other artifacts or any clues. With that goal in mind, they worked for 3 day and and 3 nights. On the fourth morning they realized that the area didn't have any secrets, it was just plain luck that the old object came there.

However, since they were already in the great green forest of the Royal Bengal tiger , Ikar and the Fleming brother suggested that they might as well do some sight seeing and exploring. Qureshi agreed with them, so did my grandpa. The others followed cue, it didn't matter to them either way.

For the following four days, they explored the hellish scenery of the Sundarbans with amazement and at times horror. There was something very untouched about the forest, something raw and ancient, as if the old tales of those unnameable beasts prowling around were true . No life was visible, yet you could feel it teeming with it, the noise of those countless creature being an attestation towards that.

On the fifth day of exploring, ninth of the whole journey, the group made a revolutionary discovery. However, this is where the official account of the expedition sort of ends.


And this is where a certain letter will help us finish this whole picture. This letter was left to my grandma by her late husband ( my grandfather ). I recieved it when she passed away, with instructions to read it at a convenient time.

The nature of the letter is personal, written by a man to his wife who he loved the most. Even I, on instructions to read it, felt uncomfortable glancing over something that was private between two human beings. So because of that, I will refrain from putting it here verbatim, and will also exclude anything else from the letter that was not a part of this narrative.

Continuing from where I left off, the 13 had discovered something. A magnificient structure, which vaguely resembled a Hindu temple. They all stood still, about a mile away from the it. Adorned in numerous dazzling colours that the observers had no name for, it had a dome shaped top, with four pillars surrounding it. The pillars were garnished with idols of fantastic creation, and drawings of otherwordly minds. The temple itself was decorated with similar work, albeit in a more grand fashion, indicating perhaps that the beings in the main structure were more important. All these details were shocking to the group but what made it a feel like a fevered dream was its sheer magnitude. Nothing of that size could be hidden from the prying eyes of the civilized world, yet no one in the group knew anything about that behemoth, learned men they all were in their own right.

Without a moments notice, Ikar pushed forward, his explorer's spirit rejoicing amid the humid hell. Most of the group followed his lead instantly, getting of the cars and taking their rifles. Only two men remained still, one was the botanist from the University of Milan, whose name was Domenico Macioci, and the other was my grandfather, Syed Qadir Chowdhury.

Both men felt apprehensive, even though they were the farthest thing from a coward. Something was unmistakably wrong with that temple, and their courage, which had never failed them before, shattered completely. They knew nothing good was going to come out of senseless bravado, so instead of trying to fake courage, the duo listened to their innate feeling. Syed, being Ikar's friend, tried to explain to him and the rest of the group about the unknown peril that could engulf them by entering what seemed like centuries old temple.

But Ikar's adventurous soul couldn't be contained when the unknown lay right in their eyesight. The rest seemed to share the same spirit, the boatsman even recounting a tale of old where a defeated king hid his kingdoms riches in the safety of Sundarbans. Syed knew that Ikar couldn't be convinced otherwise, so he prayed for him, for all of them.

The eleven advanced towards the temple, while my grandfather and Domenico stayed behind with the cars. Twilight was almost on them, and before long the night's darkness had covered the sky. The two stood vigil, with they eyes not moving away from the temple even for a second. But soon exhaustion took over them and they felt into a deep sleep.


Morning came in and both men woke up. The duo glanced at each other, trying to make sense of things after an unusually deep sleep. Realization quickly hit them. The temple and the rest of their group!

However, the temple wasn't there. The two men examined the entire visible area but to no avail, it just wasn't there. They were in the same spot as the day before and nothing was missing from the cars, where they mysteriously fell asleep, it was surmised swiftly that the other never returned.

The following two days, my grandfather and the botanist tried searching for them, even going as far as lighting the red flares they had brought for emergency. Yet, at the end, it yielded nothing at all. The eleven couldn't be found.

The red flares, however, brought the park rangers. Their arrival triggered a far wider and more intense search for the missing folks, which eventually had the Indian park rangers, Italian Navy and Australian wildlife chasers join in. All those men were respected members of developed countries, which prompted the internation search, and with their mysterious disappearance , it just added fuel to the already burning fervor of the public.

After two weeks of intense search, it slowly started simmering down. The eleven were lost forever, the green humid abyss known as Sundarban had claimed its preys. On the 46th day the search was officially called over.


My grandfather and Domenico never told the public about the temple. They just stated that the team went missing overnight, cause who would believe their ridiculous statement about a mysterious, eerie structure right in the middle of one the densest forest in the world, with soft ground that doesn't support the afforementioned like structures, from which a bunch of folks never returned. So they never revealed the truth. But my grand old man couldn't leave this world without revealing it some other soul about that unfateful day's true identity. That was why Syed wrote the letter to his wife.

However, neither Domenico or grandpa ever found out what happened to the eleven, or even what inside of that temple looked like.

But as fate would have it, I got my hand in a piece of paper, which shed some light into this dark delirious fiasco.

A page from the diary of Noel Fleming, which was found in his duffel bag. The bag had some clothes and toiletry, the diary too, but long exposure to harsh jungle weather destroyed everything. Just one page was all that survived, which is luckier than one might surmise, since it was 56 years old.

I won't try to make much sense of it, or even the entire story, for now I am a family man, and I would rather not let my mind wonder to places where our reality might become an abnormal facade, so the page will be put underneath, verbatim.

" Light golden floors, with the ceiling being fiery red. The walls of unknown colour, an unnatural hue, which is not unpleasant but strange. No pillars in sight, which is weird since the interior is certainly large, maybe measuring 30 metres in height.

We are in a chamber now, and I believe we are lost. Ikar says to sleep here tonight, and maybe the morning light will help us tomorrow. I don't like it, especially in this room, which I believe used to a praying room, for idols of all sorts surrounds every corner of this chamber.

The idols creep me. Vaguely reminiscent of Hindu gods and goddesses, these statues have none of their holy feeling. I don't like sleeping with these inanimate beings looking straight at me, with their twisted shapes and colors. It is, however, that spine-chilling 9 handed monstrosity that will haunt my dreams tonight. If there are nightmares in hell, she is the one who would be in them.

Another uncanny detail is that even though most of our lights are off, barring my own flashlight, the chamber is still visible. A sickish yellow light still radiated in the air. I can't sleep in this temple, for if I do, I am certain that the horrible statue will become my demon of death."


About the author

Syed Arabi Khalique

I am a cyber security student who loves writing about the weird and the unusual, sometimes grotesque even.

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