Mystery is interpreted as a concept which has many hidden & unsolved chapters leading to creation of superstitions and hence fear in humans in some cases. Ideally, chapters are often unsolved because they are hidden or rather hidden because left unsolved giving rise to ‘Mysteries’.
However, even amidst the unique characterization of the term, there are a collection of evidences which have proved beneficial to humans in understanding the essence of the Nature and her beauty, in realizing the vitality of her incredibility and in appreciating her wonders beyond credibility. Marie Louise beautifully quoted – “Rather like Goethe’s ‘God nature’, Jung referred to nature as ‘God’s World’ which is nothing but an overwhelming mystery all around us, full of the most wonderful and awesome events and forms” and aligning with the same quote, emerges one of the magnificent mysteries of the universe – “Magnetic Hill of Ladakh”!
Located in the western Himalayas of Northern India in the womb of River Indus and extending from the Himalayan to the Kunlun ranges is situated ‘The land of high passes’ – Ladakh, the highest plateau of India. On one hand, while the snow city mesmerizes us with its dazzling mountains and breath-taking scenic beauty, on the other – its cultural significance corroborates glittering sublimity. This miraculous city not only surprises us with its irresistible wonders but has also provided for another awe-striking spot which has mystified people for long and still continues to do so.
Before we head onto the enigmatic phenomenon, let’s recollect some high school science where we dealt with the laws of motion. As rightly stated by Sir Isaac Newton in his first law that – “for any object to change its mode of operation i.e. from state of rest to state of motion/movement would require external application”. ‘External’ often relates to human intervention. But, wouldn’t it be strange to hear that there are places which defy the law too? Apparently one such astounding place exists in the town of Leh in Ladakh popularly known as ‘Magnetic hill’.
Magnetic Hill is situated along the Leh-Kargil Baltic National Highway in the Trans-Himalayan region at a distance of 30 km from the town of Leh at an elevation of around 11,000 ft above the sea level. It is this place which shelters Mystery by making people witness a magic! There present is a small stretch of road with a steep hill ahead which supposedly pulls vehicles towards it even with the vehicles in a neutral state and without ignition. It just happens without any outside force or eye tricks! These stationary vehicles are pulled upwards at a speed of 20 km per hour even with no engine turned on and what’s more flabbergasting is the fact that even helicopters and airplanes tend to get jerked when they come inside the radius of the hill because of which the Indian Air Force Pilots are advised to fly to higher altitudes such that they escape the interference of the magnetic hill and avoid accidents.
Welcomed by a yellow board put up by the team of ‘Border Road Organization’, this particular place and signboard helps us spectate Nature’s amazing wonder! All we need to do is to ‘Park our vehicles in the area marked in white paint and turn off our engines’ and watch the vehicle moving upwards on its own. Silver sands on road sides and mystic stretch of road in the middle leading to magnetic hill would leave no stone unturned in impelling in us a cryptic feeling yet a hypnotizing experience undoubtedly!
Does the striking prodigy limit only to Ladakh or could be found elsewhere too? Well, there are several such places in India and world-wide where similar peculiarity is observed. To name some could include – The Kawardha Magnetic Hill and Ulta Paani Gravity Hill in Chhattisgarh, Tulsishyam Anti-Gravity Hill and Kalo Dungar Magnetic Hill in Gujarat and the Morgan-Lewis Hill in Barbados, ,the Electric Brae in Scotland, Anti-Gravity Hill in Australia, Anti-Gravity Hill in Ariccia, Rome, Mt. Penteli in Greece, Mt. Halla in South Korea, Malveira da Serra in Portugal, Gravity Hill in Washington, USA are some of the places around the world which defy gravity.
Having understood the mystic matter, it is inevitable to surround ourselves with multiple questions regarding the reasons behind it and hence we now arrive to an interesting part – The possible reasons for the nascence of the Magnetic Mystery. There are a few different theories behind it as explained by scientists and researchers. One postulated and rational theory suggests a strong magnetic field emanating from the hill in the particular patch of land, which is so strong that it can pull vehicles uphill on its own. However, another widely accepted explanation much closer to the truth is a neuroscientific concept of Richard Gregory namely optical illusion. The topography of the surroundings is aligned in a manner such that it makes the area seem like a steep uphill terrain, but the road actually goes downhill. In simple language it means that you either see something that is not there at all or you see things different than how they actually are. Magnetic Hill in Ladakh is a consequence of the same concept. This illusion is caused by the specific layout of hills obstructing the horizon. These are naturally laid in such a way that they deceive your mind to believe that you are going up. The illusion is similar to the Ames room which is a distorted room that creates an optical illusion, in which balls appear to roll against gravity. The third outlook to this matter comes from the localists who claim to state that there once lied a pathway that led straight to heaven & people who deserved it would automatically get pulled up while the undeserving ones never made it to the path, no matter how hard they tried. Nevertheless, while some stories are more than anecdotes or riddles, others are parables and allegories which are believed by few and waived by others! The strange occurrence has been experienced and testified by travellers from across the world. This Himalayan wonder has rightly become a major tourist attraction and a perfect pit-stop for riders moving on the highway.
Irrespective of ample of postulates for abundant mystics of Nature, it ain’t untrue that “Science cannot unravel the ultimate mystery of Nature because in the last analysis, we ourselves become a part of the mystery that we try to solve” as stated by Sir Max Planck.
I would now like to conclude the essay by stating that “Behind the infectious cheerfulness and skirmishes over flowers and fountain in gardens of the Nature, reside more profound lessons of life” where every little candid behaviour of human seeks magnitude of Nature’s fury and where respecting and taking care of coronated Nature keeps him in the orbit of longevity and assists for this better world to become the best. Let us all embrace the pleasant scent of Nature’s soil and dive deep into Nature’s culture, enjoying her beautiful gifts and rewards and help it reach our heart’s content by rejoicing the Nature’s walk together.
By Ashlesha.S. Bhalare, Bengaluru, India