While traveling on the Manali-Leh highway in Himachal Pradesh, India at an elevation of 17,000 feet is situated a pass named Gata Loops. It is a series of twenty-one hairpin bends that takes you to the top of the 3rd high altitude pass on this highway, Nakeela. The place with its different kind of quieten sends a certain kind of creepy feeling to the on goers. It’s about a water-loving, beedi-smoking ghost who protects the drivers and travellers on this hairpin stretch of sandstone dunes and narrow twisty roads. As I looped through this winding stretch, the driver of our van spun this tale for the passengers. Legend has it that this man, now referred to as Khopdi was a devoted bus driver who saved the passengers from an accident by handling the bus with care, and lost his life in the course.
He slipped off the valley, bruised and crying for help in the freezing weather, unfortunately getting no help from anyone. Khopdi has a reputation of being notorious and messy with drivers, yet is very kind and protective towards good people and drivers on the road. Hence the locals built a small shrine for him, with the only remnants from his death – his skull and bones, to pay reverence to his soul. Now the drivers who pass this loopy stretch, offer Beedis, bottles of water and sometimes even branded cigarettes to the spirit of the driver. Now this place looks like a shrine adorned with Prayer Flags, Bisleri bottles, zen stones, Beedis, Marlboros and Goldflakes of the world and lots of presents for the this Samaritan of a ghost!
And those who are unaware of the legend associated with the place will be surprised to find that a small house situated atop a hill is dwelling to a surreptitious ghost. The people passing by, make it a point to shower gifts such as cigarettes and mineral water at this site.
It is regarded as the most treacherous pathway in the world. In winters, the road is blocked due to incessant Snowfall.
What legend says?
As per the popular legend, sometime around a decade back, engine of the truck died down while passing through the bend. As this happened, a light snow began falling simultaneously. The truck driver, leaving cleaner behind, jumped out of the truck and started moving towards the nearby village to seek help, which was situated at a distance of about 40 km. When the driver returned, the cleaner had passed away by then, due to hunger and severe cold.
Grieved by the death of the accomplice, the driver arranged his last rites. The corpse was cremated at that place.
As years passed, people passing through the same destination complained about hearing uncanny noises. Some even said that they saw a young man at this place who requested them to lend him something to eat and drink. And if they didn’t oblige to his wishes, something eerie happened with them. Whenever people offered him a water bottle, it used to slip out of his hand.
Many mishaps followed and the place earned an unnatural reputation all across the state. In order to silent the evil spirit, various ‘havans’ were organized here. Since then, people passing from the place began showering mineral water bottles and cigarettes at the landmark. Ever since, the ghost of the boy ceased to exist.
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