Ever Heard Of These Intriguing Mythical Creatures?

Photo of Ever Heard Of These Intriguing Mythical Creatures? by Yamini Iyer

Folklore and legends have always fascinated us as a race. Often these legends speak of mythical creatures, documented or mentioned by ancient travellers. Sometimes, such beliefs are born out of local or religious stories. Many such creatures have also found their way into popular culture often with occasional mentions or appearances in movies or books. Even though their existence has never been proven, it does not discourage people from believing in them. In fact, many travel-enthusiasts and folklore- aficionados continue to flock to such destinations in the hope of glimpses of these fantastic beasts.

Here is a look at such mythical creatures and the beautiful locations that are suspected to be their homes across the world:

1. The Loch Ness Monster

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Image Source: travelchannel.com

Fondly referred to as 'Nessie', The Loch Ness Monster is believed to have inhabited the Loch Ness (Lake Ness) in the Scottish Highlands for centuries. The earliest sighting was recorded in the sixth century AD describing the monster as a "Water Beast" that mauled and killed a man. However, in 1933, people actually started to believe the folklore when George Spicer and his wife claimed to have seen the monster gliding across the road and disappearing into the Loch. They described it as having a long neck and a huge body. When published in newspapers, this report triggered an increase in sightings and led people to take trips to Loch Ness in search of the monster. It was around this time; the creature acquired its moniker, "The Loch Ness Monster". Subsequently, many sightings, photographs and sonar readings also surfaced, further fuelling the myth.

Photo of Ever Heard Of These Intriguing Mythical Creatures? 2/8 by Yamini Iyer
Image Source: Pixabay

Loch Ness is a freshwater lake that connects to the River Ness and is known for its scenic beauty with many quiet picnic spots. The ruins of the Urquhart Castle adorn the banks of the lake and are famous for being featured in movies and TV shows. The castle serves as an excellent spot for Instagram stories and has an exciting history. You could also visit the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition for more information on "Nessie". The backdrop of the Scottish Highlands serves as the icing on the cake that is Loch Ness.

How to reach: 3.5 hours train journey from Edinburgh to Inverness and an additional 30 minutes by road

Best time to visit: Spring time

2. Yeti- The Abominable Snowman

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Yeti is a large ape-like man known to roam the upper reaches of the Himalayas in Nepal, with a furry body and sharp teeth. The legend of the mountain-man first appeared in the pre-Buddhist beliefs of the region where they worshipped a glacier-man as 'God of the Hunt'. However, the first modern reference of the mythical beast was recorded in Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard Bury's book, describing the footprints of a wolf-like man. He also coined the term 'The Abominable Snowman' after the local legend of 'The Wild Man of the Snows' or 'Metoh-Kangmi' (Tibetian). Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay also encountered such footprints when they made their famous journey and conquered Mount Everest.

Photo of Ever Heard Of These Intriguing Mythical Creatures? 4/8 by Yamini Iyer
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Yeti is purported to be roaming the Chamlang Mountain in the Makalu- Barun National Park in Nepal. The region is also known as 'The Yeti Trail', fondly named after Daniel Taylor, who has been searching for the Yeti for 60 years. The valley is famous for its gorgeous scenery and is considered ideal for trekking. The region also boasts of a rich wildlife reserve.

How to reach: Daily flights are available to Lukla, Phaplu, Lamidanda, Bhojpur or Tumlingtar from Kathmandu. After reaching any one of these locations, you can approach the park by road.

Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn

3. Big Foot or Sasquatch

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Image Source: CNBC

Similar to the folklore of Yeti, the legend of Big Foot or Sasquatch describes a large primate-like creature walking on its hind legs as per Canadian & American folklore. British explorer David Thompson discovered the first Sasquatch footprints in 1811. However, in 1958, Big Foot became a raging topic of debate when Jerry Crew, a bulldozer operator in California, found prints that were 16 inches in size at a construction site where he was working. Hence, the term 'Big Foot' was coined to describe this mysterious figure by the media of the time. In 1967, a video known as 'Patterson- Gimlin film' was released, footage of a creature akin to Big Foot shot near Orleans, California. Of course, there is no scientific data to prove its authenticity. Since then, Big Foot has become a famous cultural icon appearing in numerous advertisement campaigns, TV shows and documentaries.

Photo of Ever Heard Of These Intriguing Mythical Creatures? 6/8 by Yamini Iyer
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Although many American states have reported sightings of Sasquatch, Washington has the maximum number of sightings reported so far. You can visit Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state, which offers stunning views, great picnic spots, and two hiking trails to spot the Big Foot.

How to reach: 45 minutes to reach Mount Rainier from Washington by road.

Best Time to Visit: July to August

Watch the famous Patterson- Gimlin film showing the Big Foot here:

4. Mermaids and Mermen

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Ever since Disney's Little Mermaid introduced us to 'Merpeople', we have been smitten with the stunning aquatic creatures with half-human bodies. But do you know, ancient accounts of mermaids often describe them as hideous creatures who were considered to be harbingers of death? Such versions have existed in folklore for thousands of years; however, Hans Chris Anderson's fairy tale about a young mermaid in love prompted widespread interest in mermaids. Disney's gorgeous screenplay further romanticized mermaids to the level of crazy fandom. Other movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter have also presented varying interpretations of merpeople.

In 2009, a mermaid sighting was reported off the coast of Israel in Kiryat Yam. The mermaid was seen lounging on the sand and soon disappeared into the ocean. The town's tourism board offered a reward to anyone who could capture a picture of the said mermaid. However, no one has claimed the prize to date.

5. Dragons

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Image Source: Pixabay

From Game of Thrones to The Hobbit, dragons have played a significant role in our popular culture. The fire-breathing beasts primarily belong to Chinese folklore, although legends about them can be found in all cultures. Even though they are fictional creatures, many paleontologists compare dragons to the flying dinosaurs, Pterosaurs, due to the resemblance in their body structures. The fire-breathing aspect was probably added to the folklore to incite fear and respect for the creature.

Despite the lack of evidence proving their existence, the Chinese worship dragons for their religious significance. The Chinese Spring Festival, which celebrates the Lunar New Year, includes a mesmerizing dragon dance and a dragon tableau. Visit China during the 16-day festival to enjoy eclectic representations of the Chinese Dragon and other activities such as Temple Fairs & Flower Fairs.

Where: Guangzhou and Beijing

When: February (Lunar New Year)

If you have a scientific bent of mind, you will quickly dismiss the above as balderdash. If you are a dreamer and believer, you would be itching to visit the above places to see the wonders for yourself. However, even the harshest cynics cannot deny the attraction of the sites mentioned above due to their historical significance and obvious scenic beauty. So, find your inner dreamer and add these destinations to your bucket list.

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