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Far inside the mountains of Kashmir are tales of creatures of pure malevolence hiding in its forests and caves. Creatures who only creep out of their dark abodes as the seasons shift to the bleak autumn and winters.

Of the Rantas, Banbudhi, and the legend of the Zoji-La crossing.

In the folk beliefs of most of Pakistan and the valley of the Kashmir, one can find a multitude of tales of female creatures of vile nature who prey on unsuspecting men.
For every Gor, Rui, Pichalpehri, Churail, and Jalpan of Pakistan, an equal lies in Kashmir: the Rantas.

The Rantas are creatures of Horrid proportions. Gigantic and much taller than any mortal human, they appear solely as women who are frail and gaunt in their physique. With their eyes sunken deep in their sockets they look at their prey, waiting for the right moment for them to pounce. The gigantic creatures appear covered with hair, with not an inch left bare. It runs from the head to their feet and helps in covering their most prominent feature: their backward feet. For every Rantas can be identified solely by God’s curse on her, a curse which appears in the form of her disfigured feet.

The creatures are fond of men and any man that is of their liking can hardly ever evade the long fingernails of a Rantas sinking deep in him. Any man walking alone at night during the rough Kashmiri winters would have her on his mind for it is said that once a Rantas achieves adhulthood, she is gifted a comb which holds all of her powers but also makes her vulnerable for love. So she roams to find and abduct her suitor, to take him away to her cave to increase her progeny. Her disdain for men is to the point that she is willing to kill her male children, for the Rantse are always female. It is not known what happens of the men. The Rantse can kill her own offspring and in the pangs of hunger attack villages to carry and eat children and women but does not harm her suitor. The suitor it appears bids a live of slavery in her den, slowly awaiting death.

A similar creature is known to the Gujjar Bakarwals of Kashmir. Creatures of darkness known for causing anarchy and mischief due to a peculiar ability of shape shifting on their own whims!

These creatures, which are both males and females, are known as the Banbuda and Banbudi. They transition between various beings and can very much take the appearance of a human as they can take the appearance of an animal or such.
They are also known for trying to seduce humans. Of course their ability to change form always helps them in this regard.

The Rantas and Banbudi exists everywhere in Kashmir but it is said that the greater majority of them lay in the Shamshabari mountains of Kashmir. However perhaps the greatest tale narrated to us of the Rantas comes from the far way land of Baltistan.

Within the Historic Zoji-La Pass upon the Balti side lay a narrow passing known for housing faeries. But as time marched on, the pass was possessed by a Rantas and so every traveler who entered that passing met with a horrible ordeal. The innocent travelers would either never be able to cross the pass and somehow die within it or would appear on the other side completely insane with not a semblance of human sanity left in them.

As the terror of the Rantas grew with her victims dying and losing their senses, a Kashmiri man of high piety named Sheikh Abdullah of Guzriyal appeared in the pass and summoned the fairies. After a long exchange it was decided that neither the fairies would harass any traveler nor would they allow anything else to as long as travelers left them a gift. So for centuries and till recently coolies, porters, and travellers could be seen reciting prayers of safety as they put down a loaf of bread for the fairies and marched on through the Rantas’s lair.

It does not matter if one considers these as folk tales, stories used to scare children, or mere fantasies of the human mind. One thing is for sure, only the Ill-advised walk alone after dark in the mountains of Pakistan and Kashmir.

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