This article does not cite any sources. (September 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Pichal Peri (Persian: پیچھل پری) or churel (Hindi: चुड़ैल, Urdu: چڑیل; meaning back footed in the Hindi-Urdu language) is an unexplained entity that is a popular topic for ghost stories in Central and South Asia.
Little is known or established about the Pichal Peri. Sightings are usually reported in the Northern Mountain ranges of Pakistan and the Himalayan foothills of India. In Pakistan, such sightings are usually reported in the rural mountainous regions of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, however sightings in the Punjab province are also occasionally reported. People who claim these reports are usually elders of rural villages who are known to hold superstitious beliefs, it is possible that people in Punjab have taken inspiration from their Northern neighbours and made their own versions of the legend. The characteristics of the Pichal Peri also vary depending on region.
It is believed that the Pichal Peri has two forms. In most stories, the Pichal Peri appears as a beautiful woman and targets vulnerable men. She is able to disguise everything about herself except her feet, which point backwards. In some stories, witnesses claim that they have seen the female transform or morph into a demonic creature that is twenty feet tall with a long face, long fingers, hunchback, bloodied clothes, large circular eyes and messy hair that covers most of her face.
The Pichal Peri appears in deep isolated woods after dark and targets a man who is by himself. The legend does not specify whether the Pichal Peri is malicious or not. Most stories about her involve the victim escaping, as these are usually told by people who claim to be first hand witnesses. In many villages, elders will claim that locals and tourists go missing every year when they go into the woods alone and that they are never found. They suggest that a Pichal Peri is a likely explanation. In Naran for example, many mountain climbers have died attempting to climb Malka Parbat due to the harsh, challenging nature of the mountain's terrain, altitude and temperature. Locals of Naran believe this is due to supernatural entities such as the Pichal Peri that inhabit the mountain.