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Most bizarre unsolved historical mysteries

-Riya Ganguly

How did D.B. Cooper vanish into thin air? Do the Indian Charama caves actually bear testimony to alien life?

Mystery stories have been a staple since childhood, from Enid Blyton’s adventure mysteries to Agatha Christie’s whodunnit enigmas. But what do you do when History writes even more bizarre and perplexing mysteries? Mankind has since centuries borne witness to some of the most intriguing incidents which seemingly bear no logical explanation. Over the years, these enigmas have sunk further into ambiguity while history remains the silent witness to the paradoxical events. If you enjoy speculating and debating on such curious events of the past, here are some of the most bizarre unsolved historical mysteries of all time:

Who were the ‘Nine Unknown Men’?

Nine unknown menMuch like legendary western secret societies such as the Freemasons and the Illuminati, Indian legend dictates that King Ashoka had commissioned the formation of a society of nine men over 2000 years ago for the preservation and propagation of sacred knowledge. Each man was designated a discipline of knowledge such as alchemy and cosmology, along with controversial and “forbidden” sub-disciplines such as extra-terrestrial communication and the “touch of death”. Unknown to the masses until Talbot Mundy’s 1923 novel, this secret Indian society is supposed to have survived over millennia through successors, and several conspiracy theories have presumed influential visionaries such as Isaac Newton and APJ Abdul Kalam to have been members of the ancient Mauryan society.

What is the Bermuda Triangle?

Bermuda triangleThe Bermuda Triangle has mystified people over the years with the consistent accidents and disappearances in the north Atlantic region. While reports claim that the frequency of Bermuda Triangle accidents are no greater than those in any other Atlantic regions, the recurring disappearances, failure to find wreckages and reports of inexplicable events make it a popular topic of debate. Reports about the “Devil’s triangle” originate as far back as Christopher Columbus’ account of a flame of fire crashing into the waves, while the region garnered global attention with the inexplicable disappearance of the USS Cyclops along with its 300 crew members in 1918. From scientific theories such as electromagnetic interference and tropical cyclones to mythological and paranormal explanations, the Bermuda Triangle remains one of the most popular geographical enigmas in the world.

Was Subhash Chandra Bose really dead?

Subhash Chandra BoseOne of the most clandestine disappearances in Indian history, Subhash Chandra Bose was reported to have died of third-degree burns following the crash of his Japanese bomber in Taipei. However, the legitimacy of his death is widely contested as some reports claimed the plane crash was only an orchestrated ploy to enable Bose’s safe passage to the Soviet Union, where he was rumoured to have been jailed and subsequently murdered. Some also claimed the patriot was living in the disguise of a saint in Uttar Pradesh owing to the remarkable similarity of Bose and this “Gumnami Baba” and the discovery of letters purportedly written by Bose after his death. Even 125 years after the revolutionary nationalist’s disappearance, the case is murkier than ever, as several popular shows and books such as Alt Balaji’s Bose: Dead/Alive (2017) and Anuj Dhar’s India’s Biggest Cover-Up (2012) have attempted to propound a suitable explanation of the almost-mythical figure’s dubious death.

Rome in Brazil?

Rome in BrazilThe discovery of roman relics in 1982 in the Brazilian Guanabara Bay led to widespread confusion, as the 100-feet deep excavations the size of three tennis courts puzzled historical accounts of Brazilian and Roman interactions. The Romans were reported to first arrive in Brazil in the 16th century. However, the discovery of over 200 Roman ceramic amphorae (storage jars) 15 miles off the Brazilian bay counters the official history of Portuguese being the first Europeans reaching Brazil. As the Brazilian government decided to suspend historical research of the remains in 1983 to prevent looting, the discovery of Roman artifacts in Brazil still remains an unsolved enigma, the historical anomaly throwing the historical timeline into serious question.

Charama cave paintings- a testimony to alien life?

Charama cavesWhile the thought of aliens in ancient Indian caves sounds absurd, the Charama caves in India suggest otherwise. Discovered by archaeologists in Kanker, Chhattisgarh, the prehistoric caves dated over 10,000 years ago feature strange rock paintings depicting humanoid figures wearing headgears and bodysuits, surrounded by what seem to be flying saucers and wormhole-like paintings. Locals of the region attributed the paintings to “rohela” people, conveying the ancestral legends of the “small-sized” people landing and abducting villagers. The Chhattisgarh archaeology department had invited ISRO and NASA to study the paintings in 2018, but the unusual silence from NASA on the case has only resulted in intensifying the suspense and conspiracy surrounding the Charama rock paintings.  

Who was D.B. Cooper?

D.B. CooperD.B. Cooper’s mysterious disappearance makes for one of the most infamous FBI unsolved cases in history. On November 24, 1971, a nondescript man identifying himself as Dan Cooper hijacked the Boeing 727 aircraft to Seattle, threatening the flight attendant to comply with the threat of his bomb in his briefcase. Demanding $200,000 as ransom, the man chartered a flight to Mexico City, where he jumped out the aircraft mid-flight with the ransom money and parachutes but was never discovered in person. The numerous unsuccessful manhunts over 45 years of investigation have only deepened the mystery, as the case garnered widespread attention and has had several popular culture references in works like Without a Paddle, Loki, Prison Break and 30 Rock.

The Mary Celeste- a ghost ship?

Mary CelesteOn December 5, 1872, the Canadian ship crew Dei Gratia spotted an abandoned ship adrift full-sail on the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The ship’s hold was waterlogged, the lifeboat missing and the 1700 alcohol barrels surprisingly undamaged, while the captain Benjamin S. Briggs, his family and eight-person crew were nowhere to be found. Thus began the legend of the “ghost ship” Mary Celeste, as its history of name changes, the sudden and bizarre death of its captain and a series of mishaps following it make the truth about the American merchant brigantine even more mysterious. Popularised by Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous 1884 short story “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement”, the legend of the “ghost ship” has only grown in popularity as conspiracies related to mutinies, sea monsters and pirates shroud the inexplicable nautical mystery.

Also read: Temple treasures of Tamil Nadu

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