I live in Kerala which is in the southern part of India. My town is known as Palakkad, situated in a valley surrounded by western ghat hills. These hills are subtropical rain forests having an average altitude of 1200 meters. We have monsoons 5 months of the year, and when I say monsoon its heavy rainfall for 2 to 3 months. Because of this the small streams in the hills are full of water throughout the year, even during summer (though shallow).
Summer season is very humid as my place is situated in a valley, the heat accumulates in the plains and because of the surrounding mountains it cannot escape. This makes the humidity level to shoot up in the months of March and April. A group of hills is situated near to my school known as Dhoni hills. Folks who live near to the forests of this hill make a living out by cultivating rice. They can be said as tribal as they do not mingle with the people living in town as they are happy amongst themselves and have their own culture and tradition. Most of them live near the little streams which is their main water source. Though these people follow the Hindu religion their deities include their forefather's spirits, goblins along with other Hindu gods.
My school was just 4 miles away from these hills. Me and my four friends used go to the stream and have a great time during summer season. Sometimes we used camp for the weekend near to this particular stream. During summer the stream was shallow and we could wade across easily.
One weekend me, Roshan, Pranav and Vivin planned a camping trip to the mentioned place. We were all pretty excited. In order to reach the mentioned place we had to trek 4 miles. And our path consisted of 1 mile of pappy cultivation and then 3 miles of forest area. Since this area was under Indian forest reserves we had to get permission from the forest department prior to our camping journey. I am a scout so it was easy for us to get the permission docs cleared. We had to give our address and emergency contact numbers to the officials as per the clearance procedure. This forest didn't have any wild beasts rather it included gentle animals mostly deer's, rabbits etc. But the vegetation is thick and dense in some part of the forest.
So on the day of our journey we loaded our camping equipment and food stuff on to our bikes and started from Pranavs home. Pranavs mother had made us food which would last two days of our camp trip. There was just one shopping store near to this forest which was located just before the paddy fields. Since we were on good terms with the shop keeper we parked our bikes there and started on foot. Even though we were burdened by the weight of camp equipment and other stuff but our excitement to reach the stream made us forget the rest of the troubles.
It was a pleasant day and in couple of hours we reached our destination. The best part was Vivin had sneaked in some beers in his backpack. The time was around 10 am and we started setting up our camp. Vivin and Pranav went to collect fire wood so that we could set a camp fire by the evening. Me and Roshan got busy fixing the tent. Things were set in an hour's time. Then we had some grub and started to explore the surroundings. We went to the nearby forest just to try our luck to catch a game. But unfortunately none of us are good hunters so we settled for a troll in the woods. On the way we saw a few huts of the folks who stay there. We didn't cross their area as we are aware that they never entertain kids like us as they thought that we are troublesome. Near to these huts there were a few idols placed at the bottom of trees which these people used to worship.
By the time we reached back it was almost 1 pm and we were a bit tired and wanted to cool off in the cold water of the mountain stream. We had the beers and were in awesome mood and we all had a great time swimming and fooling around in the water. It would have been an hour or so when suddenly Pranav shouted aloud which alarmed the rest of us. We were shocked to find blood in the water were Pranav was standing. We caught him bought him to the bank and when we checked he had cut his leg as he had hit an underwater rock even though the cut was small the blood was coming out in high pressure. We had stocked some bandages and med (we were well prepared as anything could happen in places like this) in our kit. I cleaned the wound and applied a covering over it. Then asking Pranav to rest we sat near to him and started chatting and playing cards. Time was around 5 pm, Pranav said he is feeling a bit pain in his leg. So I checked in the kit to see if there were any pain killers available. But there were none available so we decided that two of us would go to the store and get some painkillers. Vivin and Roshan started off immediately for the store before it closed for the day. The rest of the story is as per what Roshan told me.
On the way Vivin wanted to take a leak so he relieved himself near to a tree. But unfortunately he had not seen the other side of the tree was an idol of worship was placed by the local folks. He was very sorry after realizing what he had done. And when Roshan assured him saying since it was not intentional it's ok. And they shrugged their remorse and walked off.
By the time they reached the store it was almost 6 pm and luckily the store was still open and they purchased the med. Then Vivin insisted that Roshan buy some beers, even though he was reluctant at first but later he agreed. So they bought some beers which the store keeper used to sell illegally. They had couple of beers and since it was getting late they started their journey back to the camp. On their way back they decided to take another route as it was a short cut even though it was a not used much by other folks. It would have been around 7 pm by then and was dark as it becomes dark quicker in forests. They had flash lights with them so they just started walking. After a mile or so they reached a clearing in middle of the jungle a mile or so, both of them saw a fire burning in a higher altitude. Thinking that would be the hill where our camp is, these guys started heading towards the fire.
They walked for almost a mile towards the fire, but it was as if the fire was as far as it was when they had first seen it. Since they were a little high they didn't notice that they were walking away from the path. And they continued to follow the fire. After walking another mile they noticed the folly they did. That they had ventured away from the track and now they had lost their way. But they didn't loose heart as they could still see the fire and kept on walking towards it. Again they walked more than a mile and still the fire was burning as far as they had seen in the beginning. By then both of them started getting little scared. Roshan is the toughest among the four of us, he said not to worry and kept on walking towards the fire but now they were totally lost in the unknown area of the woods. After a while they started hearing some creepy noises. Usually in forest you hear all kind of voices, of crickets and other animals and birds. But as per Vivins details these voices were not made by animals or insects but were some really horrifying and strange noises.
It was almost 9 pm and still they had not reached anywhere. So they decided to leave trailing behind the fire instead use the tracks back to the camp. They walked away avoiding the fire, even though it lured them to follow it. After walking here and there for a while In-between they even dropped the plan to search for the path and follow back the fire, but then Roshan said to Vivin it is useless we need to find the path. Luckily after a while they saw a group of huts. They had reached the backyard of a small group of folks living there. They went and knocked at the door. An old man opened and gave them an unwelcome look. But later when they explained what had happened he quickly let them in and made them comfortable. They were surprised to the core when the old man offered them coffee. And asked them what exactly happened. They narrated what had happened, about Pranavs accident and the fire that had made them lose their track back to their camp. After listening intensely the old man his name was Choran asked whether they fooled around anywhere. Suddenly Vivin remembered about the folly that he had done earlier that evening. Then the old man said the idol where he had passed urine was of a fire spirit (its like goblin, in my language its known as thikolli pisachu). Some people who practice black magic use this spirit to get all sorts of wicked things done. Mostly the rituals are performed in front of these idols and Vivin had made the ritual premise dirty which had angered the spirit. Usually when a fire spirit wrecks vengeance it makes its victims follow a fire and make them loose their track. As and when the victims feel that the fire is near by the spirit will increase the distance and in the end people would go crazy and start running towards the fire source. Then the spirit would take them to the top of a hill and make them jump to death.
After hearing this both of them were scared like hell. Then Choran said as there are two of you that was the reason you were alive. If you were alone then you would have gone crazy and would have succumbed to the lure of light in the dark forest which would have resulted in your death. Charon then gave them Bhasmam (it's a holy powder that is applied on forehead by Hindus) that he had kept in his worship area and told them to apply it on their forehead. This powder is considered to have Lord Shiva's blessing, and Lord Shiva according to Hindu religion is also known as the lord of spirits and goblins also. Therefore no spirit can touch you if you are reciting his prayer. Listening to this they were relieved. Then choran lit a fire torch and lead them towards the path so that they could reach the camp. Once they reached the path Choran asked them not to follow anything else other than the path. As the fire spirit might try to lure them towards their death. They nodded in unison and thanked the generous old man and started walking.
On their way many times they saw fire burning here and there but they stuck to the track and walked forward without any diversions. They said they even heard the spirit calling to them in a female voice. This made them more scared but they recited Lord Shivas name and walked ahead. After walking for more than an hour they could hear the voice of stream flowing and could see our campfire upon the hill. They thanked heavens and rushed towards us.
Meanwhile I and Pranav were scared thinking about Vivin and roshan, but when I saw two flashlights far ahead below the hill I knew it was them. By the time they reached it was almost past 12 pm. When they narrated what had happened, we didn't believe them at first but when we saw their seriousness we understood it was something paranormal. Pranav got his meds and slept well. Nothing happened that night. Me and Pranav didn't feel anything spooky or unearthly but Vivin and Roshan had become believers on that day.
Next day we started early as Pranav couldn't walk as fast as others. After that we had couple more of camping trips in the same place without any trouble.