This happened to my and a close friend back in 1987. We were at college in Bangalore city, on Karnataka district of India. We are both from the Kerala Dist and were staying at the college hostel. One late night my friend's father who at that time was working in Kuwait telephoned him and asked if he could handover his passport to his brother before his departure to Kuwait early next morning.
Bangalore is around 850 kilometers from Trivandrum Airport so getting there within that time with the available transport was not possible. My friend came to me and asked if we should go by using my bike to Trivandrum and I agreed. The next morning we started out to Trivandrum. The way to Trivandrum covers some remote places and forest regions such as sathyamangalam forests in Tamilnadu district, however we passed those places without any trouble since it was daytime and we reached Trivandrum around 9p.m. We handed over my friend's passport to his brother and decided to start back to Bangalore early morning the next day since our exams were not until next week. With the long journey in a two wheeler, we were very tired and needed to sleep so we decided to make our return journey after noon the next day.
The journey back was not a smooth one. We were both still tired and had to make several stops on the way. We eventually reached a place called Salem around midnight; we decided to continue the journey knowing it was very dangerous to travel through Sathyamangalam Forest
Now I'll explain why Sathyamangalam Forests are dangerous at that time. There was a cruel bandit named Veerappan. He was an elephant hunter and sandalwood smuggler. He use to make money by selling the sandalwood and elephant trunks. Records show he killed almost 140 people. He even troubled the Indian army for almost 15 years. He killed several commandos and high ranked police officials. He never stayed in one place and would travel through the forest day and night only stopping to make food. The uneducated villagers near the forest region even consider him as a God, and have had a temple built after him now. His wife Muthulekshmi even fought assembly elections; He was shot by a commando operation 5 to 6 years back. 1987 period was his golden time.
We were very tired and sleepy when we started our journey from Salem. We kept talking so we would not fall asleep. We talked about different subjects and at one point our conversation came to the topic of Veerappan, his cruelty, our commando's inefficiency etc. We had almost reached mid way of forest. By now we were both very frightened even though we were both looking brave. Our conversation turned into an argument of who is braver and finally we decided to stop and have some coffee which we had in a flask with us along with a cigar. It was only we stopped we realized how dark it was. We couldn't see each other, we could not have a coffee as we could not see where we were pouring but did not dismiss the having the cigar and we both lit one.
We had parked the bike on left side of the road, beside a huge tree. We had just had three or four puffs from the cigar when we saw 10 meters in front of us on the right side of the road a huge light of fire appeared behind something very dark but solid (we did later establish that the dark thing was in fact a huge rock on right side of the road) on the road it was only 4 to 5 meters wide, from behind that huge rock in a row six lanterns came out and we both muttered with fear its Veerappan, the whole area lit up. It was then we realised that the light was not from the lanterns but what appeared to be lanterns. We held our hands tight as there was nobody there and the lantern like fire was hovering just above ground level at about one meter and moving at a walking speed and then slowly hovered across the road to the left side, halted for few seconds and combined into a single light and very slowly vanished.
We couldn't move, we were paralyzed for at least for 15 minutes. My friend suddenly jumped on to the bike I followed him and we speed away at the speed a 100cc Yamaha bike can have.
We reached next town and stopped at a small tea shop where there was some factory workers having tea after their last shift and waited there until the sun rose. We are both very certain that what we saw was very real and upon arriving at the hostel we told everybody what we saw. Nobody believed us they all assumed we had fallen asleep and dreamt it up. We are certain, as two people can't have the same dream while smoking.
After a week or so our canteen manager happened to have heard what we experienced he said he had heard the same story from someone else. There was an accident of a family of six members who died on spot while they were returning from a pilgrimage. The lanterns lights may be the ghosts of those six family members who died in that accident.
I am very sure that we will not ever forget our experience in this life time.