In northeastern India, there is a city with a mythological history even deeper than the Brahmaputra River that runs through it. Nicknamed “The Land of Black Magic,” the untouched, secluded village of Mayong holds one of the oddest magical backstories on the planet.
While some villages pass down the skills of farming or craftsmanship to the next generation, the elders of Mayong pass down sorcery and magic to the town’s youth.
Many speculate that the name “Mayong” originated from the Sanskrit word “maya”, which means “illusion”. This certainly seems to be the case in Mayong, where, according to legend, people have been morphed into animals, monstrous beasts have been tamed, and men have disappeared into thin air by uttering “Luki Mantra.”
Mayong has been India’s center for witchcraft and wizardry since its inception many centuries ago. In the early days of Mayong, legend has it, if you chanted “Uran Mantra” you would be able to fly through the air and land directly beside your true love.
According to legend, witches and the saints of black magic took shelter in the Mayong woods years ago. In 1337, Muhammad Shah’s army of 100,000 horsemen perished at the hands of witchcraft in a location near Mayong, evidence to the village’s locals of the high prevalence of black magic in the area. Excavators have even found swords in Mayong that resemble those used to sacrifice humans in other parts of India.
Mayong today is just as dark and eerie, but slightly more open, with the occasional traveller passing through town. The locals of Mayong offer palm reading to these visitors and claim to be able to predict the future with the help of broken glass and seashells.
Witch doctors are also abundant in Mayong. Local healers treat pain by placing a copper dish on the source of the injury and wait for the dish to “eat away” the pain. If the pain is too severe, the dish will overheat and shatter onto the ground. The witch doctors also serve as a lost and found in the town. If someone loses something, the witch doctor will place a flower in a metal bowl. According to the locals, the bowl will then move along the ground, completely on its own, until it reaches the location of the lost or stolen items.
There are a countless number of spells in Mayong, but, according to mythology, none of them have the power to change the weather. Says Naba Deka, a local to the area, “there are spells to turn a leaf into a fish, or an evil man into an animal, but magic cannot fight against nature’s fury, so there is no spell against the annual floods.”
Every year, a handful of Indians travel to Mayong either to practice dark magic and learn the secrets of witchcraft or to visit the adjacent Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, which hosts the world’s densest population of Indian rhinos. In fact, the animals and magic of Mayong often go hand in hand. This can be seen at the Mayong-Pobitora Festival, which celebrates the fusion between wildlife and sorcery.
Visit India with Atlas Obscura Trips
Northern India’s Colorful Cities, Villages, and Celebrations
Visit towering forts and palaces, explore local villages, experience Diwali with an Indian family, wander centuries-old ruins, learn to cook in a family home, and witness the sunrise over the Taj Mahal and the River Ganges on this immersive tour of Delhi, Rajasthan, and Varanasi.