January, 2003- Indian officials ventured into investigating several missing persons
reports from a nearby city. What they found was a "Tower of Silence," or dakhma. Zoroastrians use
these sites to dispose of bodies in the open air. While sites like these are not uncommon in certain
parts of India, several peculiarities hint at something more unusual:
I. None of the bodies depicted in the photograph were identified. Villagers from nearby, who were
initially surprised at the sheer number of corpses in the dakhma, proved unable to recognize the
bodies. The corpses also do not match the descriptions of the missing people.
2. There were no animals except for maggots and flies. Zoroastrians rely on birds such as buzzards
to dispose of the bodies in the belief they are contributing back to the Earth. Officials found the
corpses relatively untouched by any sort of animal.
3. There is no official count of the bodies. In fact, little work was actually accomplished at the site,
and perhaps this is the reason only one photograph has emerged. Officials avoided the spot not
only because they felt uneasy looking at it, but for the following as well:
4. The deep pit in the center of the photograph was filled with several feet of festering blood. Far
more than the bodies on the outside could ever supply. The stench was so unbearable many ofthe
officials began to get nauseous when they first approached the dakhma. The expedition was ended
when a villager accidentally kicked a small bone into the pit, penetrating the coagulated surface of
the pool. A massive burst of gas from the decomposing blood erupted from the pit, splashing those
looking into it, along with the photographer.
Those caught in the explosion were immediately sent to the hospital where they were quarantined
for possible infection. They became delirious with fever, shouting about "being tainted with the
blood of Ahriman (the personification of evil in Zoroastrianism)" despite never having admitted they
had any familiarity with the religion. In fact, many of them had no idea what the dakhma was when
they had found it. Delirium tamed to insanity as many began to attack hospital staff until they were
sedated. The fever eventually killed all of them.
When officials returned with HAZMAT gear the following day, the site was empty. All the bodies had
been removed and astonishingly, the pool of blood in pit had been drained. All that remained of the
incident was this photograph.