India is a land of culture and mystery makes its way through it. The mysteries in India have intrigued tourists from around the world and it doesn’t disappoint.
The Himalayan ranges are home to several religious places, beautiful valleys, astonishing summits, and incredible wildlife. However, the youngest mountain ranges in the world have uncountable mysterious things within it. It is often said the beauty of the mountains and valleys isn’t everything.
One such place in the Himalayan ranges is a mysterious lake surrounded by snowy mountains called Roopkund (also known as Mystery Lake or Skeletons Lake).
Yes, you read it right! The skeleton lake.
Roopkund Lake has some stories from ancient India which speak about the formation of the lake. There also have been researchers from renowned universities who have conducted biological tests on the skeletons found near this lake.
Let us understand the formation, the stories, the research tests, and results obtained from the samples, and what the locals say about the lake which gives it an aura of mysteriousness like no other lake in the world.
About the place and Location
Roopkund is a high-altitude glacial lake in the state of Uttarakhand, North India.
It lies in the foothills of a group of mountains known as Trishul.
Due to its tedious location and the altitude, there is no habitation around the lake. It is situated at an altitude of 16,470 feet (5,020 m). It is moreover surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and thick snow, owing to which it is also a popular trekking destination.
It is a pretty difficult climb and requires days to reach the lake with many basecamps along the way.
The depth of Roopkund Lake is around 3 meters or more when the snow melts.
The most fascinating and eerie part about the lake is the human skeletons lying all around. More such skeletons can be seen on the banks and in the lake as the snow around it melts, exposing the ground.
As far as tourism is concerned, it is an attractive place because of its location which is right between two Himalayan summits; Trishul and Nanda Ghunti.
A religious event takes place at Bedni Bugyal every autumn with a huge number of locals participating. An even larger festival, Nanda Devi Raj Jat takes place once in 12 years at Roopkund Lake as a salutation and worship to Goddess Nanda.
The lake is completely covered with snow but sometimes the snow melts due to a rise in temperature.
Roopkund formation stories
There are many legends about the formation of Roopkund Lake, one being that of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Goddess Parvati had fought demons on her way to Kailash (also known as Trishul) and was feeling dirty.
Lord Shiva created this lake by using the Trishul which then resulted in the formation of Roopkund Lake. Goddess Parvati took a dip in the lake and could see her reflection clearly in the blue water of the lake. Therefore, it is known as Roopkund.
The mysterious human skeletons
The first story comes from an old era when a local legend King of Kanuj, Raja Jasdhaval with his pregnant wife and his associates was on a pilgrim heading to Nanda Devi shrine.
They were supposedly caught up in a heavy hailstorm which resulted in killing everyone near Roopkund. There were remnants of more than 300 individuals around the lake which was a matter of astonishment.
The remnants were first discovered by a ranger named Hari Kishan Madhal in the year 1942. The British thought it might have been a secret Japanese invasion but later on, the skeletons came out to be much older than that.
In 2003, the International broadcasting network, National Geographic, was successful in retrieving 30 skeletons with flesh still intact on it.
In 1950, The Archaeological Survey of India carried out a research operation of scrutinizing these remnants. After the research, it was said that the skeletons had several head injuries that were caused due to a round object, possibly a hailstorm.
Recently, Oxford University conducted a radiocarbon dating and found that the skeletons belong to a group from the Mediterranean or South-East Asia somewhere in 1800.
Some more researches found countering the previous research by saying the South Asian remnants are older than the South-East Asian or Mediterranean remnants and that they have been diseased in two different events.
Environmental and Conservation concerns
On hearing about the mysterious discoveries at Roopkund Lake, a large number of tourists started flocking and there have been cases of tourists hampering the skeletons due to which soon there can be no skeletons. It is also reported that the tourists carry back these bones on a large number.
The locals have expressed deep concern due to the actions of the tourists. A need to protect the place has emerged a necessity for shedding light on the mysterious presence of the bones. The government officials have made efforts to develop this area as an eco-tourism spot for strict regulations.
How to reach Roopkund Lake?
Reaching Roopkund is itself a trek that has been preferred and attracted a large number of tourists from all around the world. It is one of the most preferred treks in the state of Uttarakhand. The trip starts from a small village called Lohajung from where the trek starts.
From thereafter crossing Didina village, Ali Bugyal, Bedni Bugyal, Patar Nauchani, and Baguabasa to reach Roopkund, which is at 16,470 ft. The names mentioned are the different base camps one has to cross to reach Roopkund Lake.
Recently, the trek has been banned by the government due to an increase in conservation and environmental issues.
The country of India is full of such mysteries and exciting features. As a tourist, it is important to respect and let things be as they are because that is what makes it stand out.
The Roopkund may not be accessible now but someday when it is, one has to understand its importance. It helps you find a reason to visit challenging places like the Himalayas and teach a lot of things on the way.