The Mystery of Van’s Monster

The Mystery of Van’s MonsterVan is the largest drainage reservoir in the territory of Western Armenia. It was covered by several legends. The Assyrians called it “the sea of the Nairi country”. The Kurds avoided the site, telling horrible stories about the Van Monster.

With the development of tourism in the region, rumors arose about the existence of a formidable plesiosaur in the lake, allegedly, a relative of Nessie. Designer and traveler Arman Davtyan visited the home of Van Monster.

“At the Surb Khach church, we met a Kurd guarding the church. After a small incident, he became sympathetic and decided to show some interesting places. “Do you want to see Dev’s house?” He asked.

This made us very amused, because my grandmother, who was from Western Armenia, often told tales of the Van Monster and mentioned the village of David. There was a monster’s house there.

Local residents guarded this nest. They fed the monster. They made sacrifices. And Dev guarded their peaceful existence in this territory, not allowing any army to capture the village.

For those who do not know, “dev” means a monster, a dragon. I am essentially a skeptic, but I love fairy tales, so I was still wondering what this Kurd fellow would show us. And he immediately offered to show not only the house of the monster but also acquaint us with… Dev himself.

We were intrigued to set out on our journey. The territory of Van, despite the fact that this lake is more than twice as large as Sevan, is practically uninhabited. We came to a completely deserted place on the shore.

When we got out of the car, we heard a terrifying animal roar, which shook the ground. Definitely, we were intimidated. Being people of the 21st century, we were still frightened, because we could not immediately explain the nature of this sound. The Kurd smiled and led us in the direction of roar.

And so we passed the rock and saw… a “real” monster. The “dragon” looked very aggressively towards us, opening its huge “mouth”. Of course, the spectacle is not for the faint-hearted! The rock, similar to a dragon, about 300-400 meters in size, covered with green-gray moss (which created the skin effect), just growled. The earth was shaking.

We started to climb to the top of the rock, the “dragon’s” head, in order to understand where this sound comes from. When we climbed to the top, we realized that we had to climb into the “jaws”.

The rock was steep, but we did not have any ropes or other equipment. I went down there with great difficulty, and the guys on the rope handed me a camera. Inside the “mouth” were several huge man-made halls, columns, and arches.

All rooms were connected to each other and were positioned in a way that closer to the entrance, the “mouth”, a very strong draft was felt, which could simply knock you down. But outside, there was no wind. Warm external air interacted with the internal cold and created the air flow.

I studied the halls. The very last one, right near the exit, was decorated with columns of different sizes, which descended from the ceiling and did not reach the floor.

It’s amazing how an engineer-mechanic-acoustician was able to calculate the arrangement of rooms and columns so that they, vibrating, would emit such a tonality of sound! This is how you need to be an expert!

What surprised me even more is that in the place where the “dragon’s” teeth should be, there was a bath in the shape of a horseshoe. The stone was charred. And I realized that it was because people had put firewood there, which simply shut the openings and stopped the draft. That way, the growling stopped so the villagers could live without the terrifying sound.

Whenever there was a danger of any invasion, villagers climbed in the “mouth” and set some wood on fire. As a result, the convection of hot and cold air increased tens of times, the fire began to spill out of the mouth of Dev, issuing a roar. And if we, people of the 21st century, were afraid of the sound and sight of this animal even without fire, then imagine what happened to people many centuries ago!”

by Elena Shuvaeva-Petrosyan

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